U.S. shot putter Adam Nelson has been awarded a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics, after his rival at those games, Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, was stripped of the victory last December for violating doping rules. The International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Olympic Committee made the change official Thursday.
In a news release at the USA Track and Field site, he says that his disappointment from 2004 spurred him on. And now he can officially say that he won Olympic gold.
"The reality is that the way that event originally finished eight years ago, second in a tie-breaker, it was a bitter-sweet," Nelson said, "But that loss had a really powerful effect on my purpose and drive in the sport. I was able to channel that frustration into being a World Champion. I found that anger and spite are not sustainable emotions, but eventually they transitioned into a love of sport again, and that's why I stayed in the sport for eight more years after that event."
"Nelson and Bilonog finished with the same best throw in Athens," the AP reports, "but the Ukrainian was declared the winner because his second-best attempt was longer. It was the first time an Olympic field event was decided by a second-best mark."
Bilonog's doping sample was tested in 2012, in a decision aimed at finding any cheaters before the Olympics' eight-year statute of limitations lapsed. The delay also allows samples to be tested using better technology and methods.
A seven-time U.S. champion, Nelson, 37, has won three World silver medals and one World Championship (in 2005). He won the silver medal in the 2000 Olympics. Originally from Atlanta, he now resides outside Athens, Ga.