The diva of the UK Olympic team, Kelly Sotherton launched into an attack on her Ukrainian competition, and surprisingly (or not) found allies. Sotherton and her allies point out the long term benefits gained form anabolic steroids, that may allow an athlete to improve even though he/she is clean from AAS. The Daily Mail carries this one:
Britain's gold medal hope, Kelly Sotherton, has launched a fresh attack on her principal rival in the heptathlon, Lyudmyla (or Lyudmila) Blonska, insisting that the Ukrainian should be banned from the Olympic Games because she failed a drugs test in 2003.
Her ally: a heavyweight from the IOC:
And the most senior authority on anti-doping affairs in the Olympic movement, Dr Arne Ljungqvist, has backed her stance, saying that he hopes Sotherton wins the gold medal next weekend to put drug cheats in their place.
The logic follows from the UK banning Dwain Chambers.
Blonska failed a test for the banned steroid stanozolol in 2003 but, unlike British sprinter Dwain Chambers, she is allowed to compete in Beijing because only Britain, Norway and China ban drug cheats from their teams. It means the International Olympic Committee may be in the embarrassing position of honouring Blonska, whose offence was as serious as that of Chambers, with one of the first athletics gold medals to be awarded next Saturday.
Under current rules, which were toughened up last year, Blonska would not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, but the rules cannot be applied retrospectively.
Sotherton denounced Blonska, who has the best score of all the competitors in Beijing, after the Ukrainian beat her to the silver medal in the world championships last year in Japan, where Sotherton came third.
Further, Ljungqvist cites scientific work that suggests the anabolic effect from AAS persists long after the drug was excreted. Our reference here on the long term effects of AAS.
Under current anti-doping rules, Blonska would have received a fouryear ban from 2003 until 2007 and then would have been barred from the following Olympic Games in 2008. However, when she tested positive there was a more lax regime and she received a two-year ban from athletics and no ban from the Olympic Games.
Even more galling for Sotherton and her fellow competitors is that Ljungqvist believes that Blonska may still be benefiting from stanozolol - the drug at the centre of the Ben Johnson scandal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics - even though she took it five years ago.
A doctoral thesis published last year at the University of Umea in Sweden showed that the benefits of steroids last for at least four years and have resulted in the rule change allowing for a four-year ban.
'The scientific evidence shows quite clearly that the muscular changes in people on steroid regimes last well beyond the two years, even for three or four years,' said Ljungqvist.
The Ukrainian got better over time...interesting:
'I believe it may last for even longer but we don't know exactly. But with the scientific evidence, I could go to the World Anti-Doping Authority and ask for a four-year ban.'
It could explain why Blonska has improved since coming back from her drug ban.
Her legal best before testing positive was 6,316 points, but last year at the world championships she scored 6,832 points.
More from Sotherton and Ljungqvist after the jump
More from Sotherton and Linqvist:
And the 31-year-old, one of Britain's best hopes for an athletics gold medal, renewed her attack last week, saying: 'It would definitely be sweeter to beat her in Beijing because I believe she shouldn't be at the Olympics Games, especially with the trials we have had in Britain over Dwain Chambers.
'It's unfair. We're stopping people going because of our by-law but other people are going to the Olympics. It is hard to digest because she shouldn't be there but the only way to deal with it is to beat her. 'I will speak out again because I'm in a situation where I can say how I feel and I get an audience. Immediately after the competition is the best time to say it.
'Some people said I shouldn't have spoken out last year and that I should have enjoyed receiving my medal. I was enjoying my medal but do you know what? I could have had a silver and Jessica Ennis, who finished fourth, could have had a bronze.
'I said how I felt but it didn't take anything away from the fact that I had a bronze medal and if that happened again, I would do it again.'
Ljungqvist, the head of the IOC's Medical Commission and vicepresident of the World Anti-Doping Authority, said: 'Let's hope Kelly does it and wins. Of course, it would be better if athletes like her (Blonska) weren't here in Beijing but we have to abide by the rules. But I think Kelly should be encouraged to speak out and I wish more athletes would do so.