Jelimo set for Olympics bronze after CAS sanctions Savinova


Kenya's Pamela Jelimo on her way to win the women 800m semi final at the ...
Kenya's Pamela Jelimo on her way to win the women 800m semi final at the London 2012 Olympics. PHOTO/IOC

Beijing 2008 women 800m champion, Pamela Jelimo is in line to add the London 2012 bronze after the Court for Arbitration of Sports (CAS) imposed a four year ban on Russian dope cheat Mariya Savinova-Farnosova.

The ruling also means Osaka 2007 world champion, Janeth Jepkosgei will also be upgraded to Daegu 2011 silver after the same Russian athlete beat the Kenyan and South Africa’s Caster Semenya to the top medal.

In a ruling delivered on Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland, CAS imposed a four year of ineligibility between July 26, 2010 to August 19, 2013 on Saminova thereby invalidating her victory in London where the Russian ran 1:56.19 for the gold.

“On the basis of clear evidence, including the evidence derived from her biological passport (ABP), Mariya Savinova-Farnosova is found to have been engaged in using doping from 26 July 2010 (the eve of the European Championship in Barcelona) through to 19 August 2013 (the day after the World Championship in Moscow) and accordingly to have violated Article 32.2(b) of the IAAF Competition Rules (the IAAF Rules) which concerns “Use or Attempted Use by an Athlete of a Prohibited Substance or a Prohibited Method”.

“As a consequence, a four-year period of ineligibility, beginning on 24 August 2015, has been imposed on Mariya Savinova-Farnosova and all results achieved by her between 26 July 2010 and 19 August 2013, are disqualified and any prizes, medals, prize and appearance money forfeited,” the CAS statement announcing Savinova’s decision read.

Therefore, Rio 2016 champion, Semenya who ran 1:57.23 to finish second will now become a two-time Olympics champion as well as a two-time Worlds gold medallist to add to her Berlin 2009 title with another Russian, Ekaterina Poistogova (1:57.53), whose case is also under review moving up to the London 2012 silver position at the moment.

Should the ruling go against the Russian whose country stands suspended from international competition after being accused of a systematic State-backed doping programme, the athlete who was nicknamed ‘Kapsabet Express’ could move further up the podium to silver.

Jelimo who came to London with the world lead before running 1:57.59 for fourth having lost the initiative in the race over the last 50m will now be awarded as second Olympics medal following her 1:54.01 triumph in Beijing, China where she became the first Kenyan woman to win the top medal on the track.

It capped a resounding breakthrough year for the then 18 year-old who took the country and world by storm, winning nine out of nine races entered as she swept to the USD1m (over Ksh100m in today’s exchange rate) IAAF Golden League jackpot, the African crown and Olympics gold.

The six-meet IAAF Golden League was discontinued the following season to pave way for the current IAAF Diamond League circuit.

“The CAS acted as first instance decision-making authority for this matter, substituting for RusAF, which was suspended at the time the matter was ready to be adjudicated (and which remains suspended),” the international sports arbitration body added in explaining its jurisdiction over the matter.

After exploding to the scene, Jelimo faded the following season, dropping out in the semifinals of the Berlin 2009 IAAF World Championships and thereafter, declining as a force over the distance altogether.

In 2012, Jelimo launched a spirited comeback that saw her power to the IAAF World Indoor women 800m title in Istanbul, Turkey, making history as the first Kenyan female athlete to scale such heights.

Revved up and with some of her fearsome power that crushed all competition in 2008 back, Jelimo launched her outdoor season with a win at the Doha 2012 Diamond League meeting in a meeting record time of 1:56.94 minutes.

She was beaten by Fantu Magiso at the Rome Golden Gala, but was victorious at the Kenyan trials and then set a world-leading time of 1:56.76 at the KBC Night of Athletics in Belgium.

Should the IAAF strip Savinova of her 2011 world title, then Jepkosgei who clocked 1:57.42 to finish third on the day will move to silver with Semenya (1:56.35) crowned the world women 800m champion from Daegu 2011.

Jepkosgei, fondly known as the ‘Eldoret Express’ finished second behind Jelimo in the first women Kenyan 1-2 on the track at Beijing 2008 before being beaten by Semenya to the top medal in 2009 when the South African rose from obscurity to stun the field.

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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