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Lashinda Demus upgraded to Olympic champ by World Athletics, 10 years after race

U.S. Track and Field athlete Lashinda Demus is in line for an upgrade to Olympic gold if medals are reallocated for the 400m hurdles from London 2012 after Natalya Antyukh was stripped of her results due to doping.

American Lashinda Demus has been upgraded from 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles runner-up to champion by World Athletics after original winner Natalya Antyukh of Russia did not appeal her recent retroactive disqualification for doping.

Demus, who originally finished seven hundredths of a second behind Antyukh, is now listed as gold medalist on her World Athletics page. Antyukh was moved from first place to the bottom of the race results, listed as DQ.

Zuzana Hejnová of the Czech Republic was moved from third to second and Jamaican Kaliese Spencer from fourth to third.

The International Olympic Committee has not changed its results to reallocate medals but can still do so. The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases in track and field, said it notified the IOC last Friday of World Athletics’ results change.

“The reallocation of medals is not automatic,” the IOC press office said Wednesday when asked about the 2012 Olympic women’s 400m hurdles results change. “As a general rule, each reallocation is submitted to the IOC [Executive Board] for approval once the athletes/teams sanctioned have exhausted all their remedies of appeal and when all procedures are closed.”

On Oct. 24, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency announced that Antyukh’s results from July 2012 through June 2013, a stretch that includes the London Games, were stripped due to evidence of doping from historical data. Antyukh, a 41-year-old who last competed in 2016, was already serving a four-year doping ban.

“Hearing the news didn’t impact my mood or feelings being that it has been 10 years since it has happened,” Demus, who last competed in 2016, wrote in an email after the October announcement. “I have mixed emotions about it all. I do believe that if, in fact, there was doping involved with anyone in the Olympics that they should be stripped of their medal. With everything being said it looks like this is the case for my race. I’m not afraid to say that I then deserve the official title, medal, recognition, and missed compensation that goes along with it all. I wouldn’t want any athlete to go through this same situation and I hope that keeping athletes honest in our sport stays at the forefront for those who sacrifice a good part of their life to be great at it.”

In the 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles final, Antyukh, then 31, lowered her personal best by 22 hundredths of a second to hold off Demus by seven hundredths for the gold medal.

“Of course, I wanted the gold medal; I will not stop until I get the gold medal,” Demus told Lewis Johnson on NBC after the race, voicing a desire to return for the 2016 Olympics (which she did not do after a series of injuries).

At the time, Demus was the third-fastest woman in history in the event and the American record holder with a personal best of 52.47.

Demus, a 2004 Olympian, missed the 2008 Beijing Games by one spot at Olympic Trials after giving birth to twins in June 2007. She also won world championships medals in 2005 (silver), 2009 (silver), 2011 (gold) and 2013 (bronze).

Demus becomes, retroactively, the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic 400m hurdles title. Dalilah Muhammad won the event in 2016 and Sydney McLaughlin last year in Tokyo.

Russia originally won eight track and field gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. Due to doping, that number is now down to one pending the IOC medal reallocations -- high jumper Anna Chicherova, who was stripped of her 2008 Olympic bronze medal for doping.

The span between Antyukh winning an Olympic medal and it being stripped for doping may be the longest for the Summer Games since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 2000 Olympic cycling time trial bronze medal more than 12 years after the race. That medal was not reallocated. Spain’s Abraham Olano, the fourth-place finisher, was not upgraded and later had his name come up in a French senate report of cyclists who doped in the 1998 Tour de France.

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