Road To The Olympic Games

Track-field

Dylan Armstrong caught in ultimate irony after wife's failed doping test

Dylan Armstrong, a man who waited more than six years to receive his Olympic medal after a competitor failed a doping test, is once again face-to-face with cheating in sport after his wife was caught using a banned substance by the retesting of samples from 2012.

Canadian had to wait more than 6 years for Olympic shot put medal

Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong originally finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but moved up to the bronze medal as a result of a positive drug test by a competitor. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

For Dylan Armstrong, it is the ultimate irony.

The poster boy for Olympic athletes plucked from the periphery to reach the podium after someone who beat him tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Armstrong is once again face to face with cheating in sport. Literally face to face, as the former Canadian shot putter's wife, Evgeniia Kolodko, was among the athletes caught using a banned substance by the retesting of samples from the 2012 Olympics.

If her B sample confirms the result, Kolodko could lose the silver medal she won in the shot put at the London Games, along with the silvers she earned at the 2013 European indoor championships and the 2014 European championships.

Armstrong hasn't spoken publicly about the matter, but he issued a statement by email to CBC Sports that reveals a conflicted man.

Armstrong is in a difficult spot, as his own tale is well-documented. He waited more than six years, until 2015, to receive the medal he earned at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he missed the podium by a single centimetre. Armstrong was bumped up to a bronze after third-place finisher Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus was caught for a doping violation by the retesting of samples from the 2005 world championships and his subsequent results nullified.

Armstrong's medal was the first won by a Canadian in a throwing sport at the Olympics since 1912.

The Canadian can surely empathize with Chinese shot putter Ling Li, who finished fourth in London and may now be in line for a medal because of apparent cheating by Armstrong's wife.

"It's not the most rewarding way to receive an Olympic medal," he told the Vancouver Sun's Gary Kingston in 2013. "Nothing could replace that Olympic moment, having your family and coaches and sponsors there, people that could have celebrated with real enjoyment that moment."

Interestingly, Kolodko actually finished third in London but was upgraded to the silver medal after the winner, Belarus's Nadzeya Ostapchuk, tested positive for a banned drug.

Unwanted questions

Another complicating factor for Armstrong in the wake of his wife's positive test is that he has positioned himself as a champion of competing clean.

"I have been consistently outspoken about my position on doping, which is zero tolerance," Armstrong, who has never failed a test for any banned substance, says in his statement, adding to comments against doping he has made in the past.

"If you listen to your coach and you're dedicated and you work hard, you can do it clean. I'm a prime example of that," he said upon receiving his Olympic bronze.

His wife's positive test may also raise some unwanted questions. Though Armstrong said he did not know Kolodko before the 2012 Olympics, both have been coached by the same man, Russian Anatoliy Bondarchuk, who won gold in the hammer throw at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Armstrong does not address that link in his statement.

He does address, however, the conflict his wife's positive test has caused him, the "dedicated Olympic athlete" and "patriotic Canadian" wrestling with an uncomfortable situation involving "someone I love deeply."

Armstrong offers his "love, patience and support" to his wife, to whom he's been married less than a year, but also urges her to follow the rules and "co-operate fully with the IOC and with the World Anti-Doping Agency as they determine the appropriate actions to be taken."

Absent from Armstrong's statement? Many of the things we've come to expect when doping violations are revealed. There are no denials, no allegations of a tainted testing process or suggestion that his wife simply isn't capable of cheating.

Perhaps he's been around too long for that.

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