Eight years later, shot putter Nelson '97 could retroactively win Olympic gold
More than 3,000 days after the 2004 Summer Olympics, Adam Nelson '97 has been retroactively named the victor in the shot put competition at the Athens Games, The New York Times reported today. Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, who originally won the gold medal, was found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs following a reanalysis of his urine sample and was stripped of his medal.
According to doping protocols, officials may store samples for up to eight years and retest them for substances that might not have been detectable when the sample was first taken, The Times reported. Officials reexamined about 100 samples from the Athens Games and stripped medals from four athletes, including Bilonog.
Nelson has not officially received the gold medal because track and field's world governing body must decide if they will officially alter the standings or void the positions of the athletes found to be using performance-enhancing drugs.
During the 2004 games, Bilonog tied Nelson's best attempt of 21.16 meters in the sixth and final round of the shot put competition. This forced officials to consider the tie-breaking second-best attempts, giving the gold to Bilonog whose second-best throw of 21.15 meters bested Nelson.
Nelson set the initial mark to beat in the first round of throws, putting him in first place, barely in front of Bilonog who had a first round throw of 21.15 meters.
The tension built as Nelson couldn't register a legal throw in the next two rounds while Bilonog continued to come close to Nelson's distance with throws of 21.15 and 21.07 meters in the second and third rounds, respectively. Bilonog matched Nelson's throw in the final round, and Nelson fouled in the tie-breaking round, missing a shot at the gold. Nelson was awarded a silver medal for the event.
In an interview with The Times, Nelson said he was still coming to terms with the news of his victory.
"I'm still processing this one, but the 2004 Olympics were a really special moment for me," Nelson told The Times. "My wife was there, a bunch of my friends from college, my family. We competed at the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The downside of this is I feel like our country was robbed of a medal at the relevant time. One of the biggest parts of an Olympic career is when you hear your anthem and see your flag when you stand on that podium. That's something I can never replace."
Nelson also competed in other Olympic Games, including the 2000 Games in Sydney where he received a silver medal, and the 2008 Games in Beijing.