Olympic race walker: Russian doping robbed me of my gold medal

Jared Tallent stands next to Russian gold medalist Sergey Kirdyapkin (center) during a London 2012 Olympics medal ceremony. Tallent says he was robbed of first place by Kirdyapkin, a known drug cheat.

Story highlights

  • Jared Tallent won silver in the 50 kilometer race walk in 2012
  • He says he was deprived of gold by a Russian drug cheat
  • Report released Tuesday alleges widespread cheating in Russian athletics

(CNN)An Australian Olympic athlete says Russian doping robbed him of a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics -- and he wants what's rightfully his.

Jared Tallent, an Olympic race walker, finished second in the 50 kilometer race walk behind Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin, who tested positive for doping before and after the London Games but was still allowed to compete.
"This has been a long process to get to this point, and to see the results in the wider report to show everything that's been going on feels amazing. Most people have known there are big problems for a while," Tallent told CNN.
    Tallent made his comments after the release of a damning report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which alleges a "deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels" within Russian athletics, and also implicated the IAAF in covering up the abuse.
    "1185 days have past since I raced in London. How many more do I have to wait until I receive my Olympic gold medal?" Tallent tweeted.
    The report called for sanctions against Russia's athletics federation and recommended that five athletes and five coaches, all from Russia, be banned for life, including race walking coach Viktor Chegin, who helped train Tallent's rival Kirdyapkin.
    The report referred to the case of Kirdyapkin as "particularly suspect," and said experts examining his Athlete Biological Passport concluded that Kirdyapkin's "abnormal profile was likely the result of the use of a prohibited substance or method, specifically blood transfusions."
    Russia's top anti-doping official has denounced the report as "unprofessional, illogical and declarative," but some of its evidence has already been passed on to the international crime-fighting organization Interpol for further investigation.

    Long campaign

    Tallent has been campaigning for rightful recognition in the Olympic race since he took silver in August 2012.
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    "I have copped abuse on Twitter and Facebook from Russians that think I am whinging," Tallent told local media Tuesday.
    "The Russian walkers have had huge problems for a number of years... It's something that should've been dealt with probably seven years ago," said Tallent, who has won three Olympic medals over the course of his career, including a bronze and a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
    Although Tallent says he feels vindicated by the WADA report findings, he's still waiting to get that medal -- and points out that he's not the only one that's been cheated out of recognition.
    "There's an Irish walker -- he missed standing out on the podium. He finished fourth [in the London Olympics 50 km race walk] and didn't get his day in the sun where he got to be in the podium. There's been multiple competitions that so many missed out on their day," he told CNN.
    "Hopefully the gold medal will come my way from London. Just waiting for that."
    The walker that Tallent's referring to is Robert Heffernan, who describes himself on his Twitter account as an "Olympic medalist in waiting."

    'IAAF should level the playing field'

    Athletics Australia CEO Phil Jones released a statement Tuesday saying the association welcomed the decision to start considering sanctions against the Russian Athletics Federation.
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    "We reiterate our absolute stance against doping in sport and implore the IAAF to take all actions necessary to deliver a level playing field for athletes. Circumstances like those alleged in this report must not be allowed to continue," the statement said.
    It also asked for the IAAF to reconsider allowing Russia to host next year's World Race Walking Teams Championship.
    "Understanding the allegations made prior to the release and within this report, we encourage the IAAF Council to reconsider if Russian Athletics Federation are appropriate hosts. Athletics Australia advise that we will support any athletes who wishes to boycott the events unless the venue is changed."