Irish athletes to receive belated medals amid Russian disqualifications

Irish athletes to receive belated medals amid Russian disqualifications

RACE walker Robert Heffernan has been retrospectively awarded a bronze medal for his performance in the 50km at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed that Sergey Kirdyapkin, the original winner of the 50km race walk in which Cork native Heffernan had finished fourth, has now been struck off the record.

A statement from CAS said “all competitive results obtained by Sergey Kirdyapkin from 20th August 2009 to 15th October 2012 are disqualified,” thereby paving the way for Heffernan to be upgraded to bronze.

Speaking to Today FM, Heffernan revealed his delight at the confirmation, which has been a long time coming.

"I'm buzzing,” he said. “I got a generic email off the CAS. I had to read it a few times just in case I made a mistake. That makes me an Olympic bronze medallist and it's unreal."

It is only the seventh medal Ireland have won in Athletics at the Olympics, while it means London 2012 is now Ireland’s most successful Games as the overall medal haul has increased to six for that one event.

Previously, Ireland’s five medals at Melbourne 1956 had been on equal par with London 2012.

Meanwhile, another Irish athlete to benefit from the crackdown on the state-supported systematic doping regime deployed by Russian athletics is Olive Loughnane.

The retired race walker, also from Cork, has had her silver in the 20km at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin upgraded to gold after finishing second behind Russian Olga Kaniskina.

Kaniskina’s time has also been disqualified, elevating Loughnane to first place.