At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Goldie Sayers was denied a bronze medal by an athlete who was subsequently shown to have doped. Eleven years later, she received her rightful prize from Sir Craig Reedie, in front of her home crowd at an international athletics event in London.
In London 2012, Anita Wlodarczyk came second behind an athlete who was later disqualified as part of the IOC re-analysis program. Two weeks ago, at a special ceremony at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, she received her gold medal from IOC President Thomas Bach.
The duo are among many athletes, who were initially denied the limelight by rivals, who had gained an advantage through doping.
Sayers and Wlodarcyk took center stage during the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) ‘Take the Podium’ program being held in conjucntion with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland.
They had received their medals through the medal reallocation program launched in 2018. The IOC had implemented a program that looks to give those athletes who were cheated out of medals at Olympic Games, their moment of glory and recognition.
Sayers said: “Sport has definitely shaped me as a person. It has taught me that you can achieve a lot more than you can imagine. When I was being presented with the medal in London, I stood at the back of the podium and said to myself ‘just take it all in, take it all in’, and then I got really, really emotional.
Receiving my medal the way I did was, of course, not how I dreamed it would be but it is important that athletes receive justice, no matter how long that takes.
“It’s a great privilege to give an athlete’s perspective on the medal re-allocation process and what it means to have justice finally served. The retesting program is an important aspect of anti-doping and I want to thank all those dedicated people who work hard for clean sport, people who made it possible for this to happen.”
Speaking directly to the audience, she added: “Sometimes in anti-doping you feel it’s a bit of an uphill battle, that nobody is grateful. But cases like mine show that it is worth it and I know that athletes really do value the anti-doping movement. You are all incredibly important and we need you. Please keep on fighting the fight.”
Wlodarczyk said: “At the time, in 2012, when I came second at the London Olympics, I was very happy because my biggest dream was to win an Olympic medal. I remember every detail of the ceremony and I was very proud to win a medal for Poland. But five years later, I received the news that the athlete who came first was caught for doping through re-analysis. The IOC informed me of the official decision and asked me where and when I would like to receive the gold medal.
“It was such a thrill and I was very happy to receive the medal here in Poland during a special gala celebration of the centenary of the Polish Olympic Committee. It meant a lot to me. I am very happy to have two gold Olympic medals now. Ultimately, it is the clean athletes who are cheated when other athletes take performance-enhancing drugs. I heard here at the World Conference about new methods of doping control and I am very happy that WADA is helping to protect athletes and always looking to improve the system.”
Reedie the outgoing WADA president said: “Individual cases like Goldie’s and Anita’s inspire us. This Conference is mostly discussing the rules – the Code and the Standards. Those debates can seem a little abstract or even dull at times but it is wonderful when those rules that have extended the statute of limitations to ten years and enabled re-analysis programs, make a meaningful positive difference in the lives of athletes. That is why we are here – to serve them. It sends a clear message that we will not stop seeking justice for those who have been cheated and that we will always stand beside the athletes who choose to compete clean.”