As It Happens

Canadian weightlifter to win gold from London Games, after competitors caught doping

After the two athletes who finished ahead of her tested positive for doping at the 2012 Games, Christine Girard stands to become Canada's first Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting.
Christine Girard found out she was the best in her weight class at the London Games, after the gold and silver winners were caught doping. (Yuri Cortez/Getty Images)

Canada stands to add a gold medal from the London Games, after the International Weightlifting Federation announced the results of doping retests from the 2012 Olympics.

Christine Girard learned Wednesday that her bronze medal from those Games may be upgraded to gold. She says she found out second-hand about the test results.

Canada's Christine Girard celebrates her bronze medal performance in the women's 63Kg weightlifting competition at the London Games in 2012. (Paul Hann/Reuters)

"It was actually my husband who was following the retesting of samples from the Games. He texted me as soon as they came out and said, 'Hey, by the way, you're now the best one in your weight class,'" Girard tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

The International Weightlifting Federation announced Wednesday that samples of 11 weightlifters from the 2012 Games showed positive results.

I was competing against the same girls and I could see the physical change year after year—change that wasn't normal with training. I knew they were taking stuff but they never got caught.- Christine Girard

Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia, who finished second in the women's 63-kilogram division, was among the 11 athletes, testing positive for the steroid dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.

Gold medallist Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan was already caught testing positive for stanozolol in an earlier batch of retesting.

A mass spectrometer is used to test for the use of steroids (Richard Lam/CP)

Both Tsarukaeva and Maneza have been provisionally suspended, but they could appeal the ruling and it will likely take months, or even years, for the Olympic medals to be redistributed.

"I still have the bronze medal at home, so it will take a while for the process to go through and the medals to be exchanged. But it's fair to say that my performance was the best in my weight class for clean athletes in London 2012," says Girard.

Girard said she wasn't surprised by the positive tests.

Christine Girard hopes to be holding one of these medals some day soon. Athletes have the right to appeal the findings and the process could take months or years to sort out. (Bullit Marquez/AP)

"It's something that's a bit common in our sport. Over the years, I was competing against the same girls and I could see the physical change year after year — change that wasn't normal with training. I knew they were taking stuff, but they never got caught."

Girard, now 31 and retired from the sport, says she had been tested consistently since she was 14. Something she says was annoying at times, but a credit to Canada's determination to compete clean.

"I want Canadian athletes who are weightlifters to believe they can reach a high level while being clean and working hard. At the same time, to see all those positive tests on an international level, I'm really worried for the future of our sport."

With files from the Canadian Press

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