(Reuters) - Australian race walker Jared Tallent has said it would be a disgrace to have to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games in August against the man who cheated him out of London Olympic gold.
Tallent finished second in the 50 kilometer walk at the 2012 Olympics behind Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin, who was found guilty of doping last year and handed a three-year, two-month suspension by Russia’s anti-doping agency, backdated to the London Games.
Kirdyapkin was one of three Russian athletes stripped of their London medals by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday and athletics’ governing body the IAAF have said they will begin re-allocating the medals shortly. [L3N16W3E7]
“Sergey Kirdyapkin, the cheat from London, has returned to competition now ...and for him to be competing in Rio I think it would be a disgrace,” Tallent told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
“I am very strongly against Russia competing at the Olympics and hope the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and IAAF stand firm.”
Russian athletes are currently banned from international competition following a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency which exposed systematic state-sponsored doping and related corruption.
The IAAF have said the country still had “significant work” to do to have the ban overturned. [L4N16J492]
“There has been talk the ban might be lifted before Rio and I would be incredibly disappointed if they are there,” Tallent added.
Tallent, who will leave Australia on Saturday for training camps ahead of the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games, was pleased to have finally been awarded the gold medal though he felt Kirdyapkin’s doping had also cheated him of his Olympic moment.
“Definitely a bit hollow. You don’t get to stand on the podium at the Games in front of all the spectators who saw you compete,” the 31-year-old added.
“You don’t get to see the Australian flag go up to the highest point or sing the national anthem. That has all been taken away.
“I have missed out on so much that comes with being an Olympic champion and I’ll never get that back.”
However, Tallent said Thursday’s decision by CAS was “a great day for clean sport” and now being able to call himself Olympic champion “has a nice ring to it”.
“Now it’s finally been changed I’m now officially the Olympic champion and we can move on,” he said.
“It will make me more motivated and determined this year being that I’m going to Rio as defending Olympic champion and (I want) to cross the line first and to get the gold medal on the day.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Patrick Johnston