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Natalya Antyukh stripped of Olympic 400m hurdles title; Lashinda Demus in line for gold

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.

In a doping case, Russian Natalya Antyukh has been stripped of her results from July 2012 through June 2013, a stretch that includes her Olympic title in the 400m hurdles, putting American Lashinda Demus in line for an upgrade to gold should medals be reallocated.

“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 Tuesday. “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.”

Antyukh was found to have used a banned substance or method based on database evidence, which led to the retroactive stripping of her results from a decade ago, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which handles doping cases in track and field. The retroactive ban, doled out by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, can be appealed.

“It will become final and binding after 45 days if there is no appeal,” according to the AIU in an email Monday. “Thereafter, the AIU will send a sanction memo to the [World Athletics] Competition Department so they can proceed with the disqualification of the Athlete’s results. The AIU will then write to the IOC to confirm the Athlete’s sanction and let them know that they may now proceed with the re-allocation of medals and the update of the IOC database.”

Last year, Antyukh was banned four years in a doping case related to evidence from the 2016 McLaren report on Russian doping. Her results from July 2013 through December 2015 were also stripped. She last competed in 2016, according to World Athletics.

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).

If Demus is upgraded to gold, she 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 one -- high jumper Anna Chicherova, who was stripped of her 2008 Olympic bronze medal for doping.

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