MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Olympic champion walker Jared Tallent has been awarded a gold medal in a mock ceremony in the wake of reports that dozens of athletes failed retrospective drug tests from the 2008 Beijing Games.
The Australian was confirmed as the London Games’ 50 km walk gold medallist in March after Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin was stripped of the title for doping following a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling.
Tallent will be awarded the medal at a ceremony in Melbourne next month but put in some practice with a couple of friends in a video posted online.
In it, Tallent walks through what appears to be a backyard and stands on a step as a voice behind the camera announces him as “the winner, from Australia -- Jared Tallent.”
Tallent, who has been training in Italy, stands up on the mock podium and waves in traditional Olympic style before a man comes forward to shake his hand and put a medal around his neck.
The 31-year-old also took the 50km silver at the 2008 Beijing Games behind Italy’s Alex Schwazer, who recently completed a three-year ban for doping after failing a drug test before the London Games.
The International Olympic Committee said last week that 31 athletes had failed drug tests from the 2008 Games after samples were re-examined.
Fourteen of the 31 were Russian athletes, the country’s national Olympic committee said on Tuesday.
Russian media named the athletes, one of whom competed against Tallent at the 2011 world championships in Daegu where the Australian won the bronze medal.
Following the Russian media reports, a photo of Tallent was posted on social media showing the Australian crossing out the names of the two Russian race walkers who beat him at Daegu.
The winner, Sergey Bakulin, was banned for doping last year by Russian authorities and had his Daegu result disqualified by CAS in its March ruling. The runner-up was Denis Nizhegorodov, who won the 50km bronze at Beijing.
Russian track and field athletes were banned from international competition in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency taskforce found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping.
World athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, will decide on June 17, six weeks before the Rio Olympics start, whether Russia has done enough to clean up its anti-doping programme and have its athletes re-admitted to competition.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury