LONDON (AP) — They stepped on the podium. The medals were presented. Nine years too late, and in London rather than Beijing for Britain’s 4×400-meter relay team from the 2008 Olympics.
Michael Bingham, Martyn Rooney, Andrew Steele and Robert Tobin on Sunday finally had the medal ceremony they were denied in China after being cheated out of bronze at the time by a doping Russian runner.
The Britons were upgraded to bronze after retests of doping samples last year from the Beijing Olympics showed that Denis Alexeev, who helped Russia’s relay team finish third in Beijing, had used an anabolic steroid.
Rather than the medals just being sent in the mail to the British quartet, they received them at a ceremony during the London leg of the Diamond League at the main stadium from the 2012 Olympics.
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“It’s definitely surreal but an amazing opportunity none the less and a real privilege to get it in such a stadium and such a crowd,” Steele said. “Even though it’s nine years later I am really happy to receive it, it’s amazing.”
Steele received his medal from Craig Reedie, the Scotsman who is president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“I think we all felt like we should have had third,” Steele reflected on the Beijing Games. “We all had our own suspicions based on nothing really, but to actually get it is something I could not have expected.”
Even if they had been able to get on the Beijing podium, only the national anthem of gold medalists United States would have been played in the Bird’s Nest stadium. But “God Save the Queen” was played in London as thousands acclaimed the late medal recipients.
“This kind of shows that they (the IAAF) are putting a case forward for a clean sport,” Tobin said. “They are making a celebration out of the fact that we competed clean and we’ve eventually received what we deserve.”