(CMR) The men’s 4x100m relay team from Trinidad and Tobago have finally received their gold medals from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. On Tuesday, the medals were awarded at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Aaron Armstrong, Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender, and Richard Thompson received them from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
At the 2008 Olympics, Jamaica won the men’s 4x100m event, led by legendary sprinter Usain Bolt. However, in 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revealed that Nesta Carter, who ran the lead-off leg for the Jamaican quartet, had violated the anti-doping code by testing positive for methylhexaneamine. Jamaica was subsequently disqualified, and T&T, who had earned silver, was announced as the new winners.
Thompson described the team’s emotions on receiving the medals: “I am very excited and relieved at the same time. This has been a long time coming. We should have originally won these medals 14 years ago, but the circumstances were beyond our control. We are happy that the IOC acted with immediacy and all the relevant bodies continued to do everything they could for the integrity of the sport and the Olympics in general.”
Addressing the athletes, President Bach said: “This is a very special moment. I am very happy that you can share it with your family members present here and that you can share it, hopefully, with so many of your fans back home in Trinidad and Tobago. I think we should salute all your countrymen and women here from Lausanne.”
He went on: “Our feelings are mixed. All of us, and in particular you, would have preferred to have this ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at Beijing 2008 and to share this feeling immediately after your victory, to enjoy it in the emotion of the moment, having crossed the finish line first. On the other hand, and in sport anyway, we should always look on the bright side of life. Finally, justice is being done, and nobody in the Olympic Movement, and in particular in the IOC, just accepted the result of Beijing at the time and forgot about everything. Instead, we took the necessary precautions to make sure that cheats can never feel safe, by storing the samples and by re-analyzing the samples when new methods were available to do justice.
“There are two parts of justice: one is to catch and sanction the cheats, but this is not the ultimate goal of what we are doing and intend to do. Our goal is to protect you, the clean athletes. Sanctioning the cheats is just a means to an end. Therefore, we should enjoy this together. We should enjoy and be happy that this could finally happen. Now you can feel the pure joy and satisfaction. You have the final confirmation that you won this Olympic final, that you won this Olympic race, that you won this Olympic gold medal by being clean and fair athletes and by being role models, not only for the young generation in Trinidad and Tobago but for the athletes around the world.”
The Medal Reallocation Principles were established in 2018 following a recommendation from the IOC Athletes’ Commission. They provide athletes with a menu of options – including a ceremony at The Olympic Museum – to receive their medals in a way that recognizes their achievements.