(Reuters) - Spanish weightlifter Lidia Valentin hopes to be awarded an Olympic gold medal from London 2012 after the athletes that finished above her all failed drug tests when their samples were reanalyzed.
Valentin, who will compete at next month’s Games in Rio, finished fourth in 2012 in the Women’s -75kg category.
All three athletes that made the podium ahead of Valentin -- champion Svetlana Podobedova, silver medalist Nataliya Zabolotnaya and Iryna Kulesha who won bronze -- tested positive for banned substances when their samples were reanalyzed.
“Although late, as it has taken four years, finally justice has been done,” Valentin told Spanish newspaper AS. “The important thing is that is has come out. It’s not a surprise.”
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) announced on Wednesday that Russia’s Zabolotnaya and Kulesha of Belarus had produced positive samples in a second wave of International Olympic Committee (IOC) retests.
The IWF said last month that the sample of Kazakhstan’s Podobedova had produced an adverse finding in the first wave of retests.
“I wasn’t able to enjoy the podium at the time but the important thing is that the cheaters have been caught,” the 31-year-old Valentin said.
The IOC stores samples for a decade in order to re-test using newer methods or to look for new drugs.
The results are part of the IOC’s re-testing of samples from past Games to keep cheats from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
Podobedova, Zabolotnaya and Kulesha have been provisionally suspended by the IWF and the Spanish Weightlifting Federation (Fedehalter) hope Valentin will be belatedly awarded the gold medal prior to the start of the Rio Games on Aug. 5.
“We are cautious as neither the IWF nor the IOC have ratified the disqualification of Podobedova after last month’s news,” Fedehalter said in a statement.
”We have asked the IWF to clarify as soon as possible the situation of the classification of the London Games.
”We hope that next week we have favorable news for Lidia and in particular, for the Spanish Weightlifting Federation.
“If the latest news (positive tests) are confirmed, Lidia would become the first Spanish Olympic champion in weightlifting.”
Valentin hopes that retrospective testing serves as a strong deterrent to athletes that may consider cheating in Rio.
“I hope this sends a clear message that in Rio all athletes should be clean and no one considers cheating,” she said.
Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by Toby Davis