2008 Beijing Gold medals re-allocated to Trinidad and Tobago’s 4x100m relay team

After the Jamaican team was disqualified for a banned substance, the gold medals were stripped and given to the runners up from Trinidad and Tobago - after a 14 years wait.

On Tuesday, IOC president, Thomas Bach, awarded the gold medals to Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callander, Marc Burns and Aaron Armstrong with Trinidad and Tobago National Olympic Committee President Diane Henderson standing by.
On Tuesday, IOC president, Thomas Bach, awarded the gold medals to Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callander, Marc Burns and Aaron Armstrong with Trinidad and Tobago National Olympic Committee President Diane Henderson standing by.

After 14 long years, a wrong has finally been righted in reallocating the gold medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the Trinidad and Tobagan 4x100m relay team. On Tuesday, IOC president, Thomas Bach, awarded the gold medals to Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callander, Marc Burns and Aaron Armstrong with Trinidad and Tobago National Olympic Committee President Diane Henderson.

In 2008 the Jamaican quartet of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter had crossed the line first with a time of 37.10 ahead of Trinidad and Tobago who clocked a 38.06. It was suspected that Carter had used banned substances and after re-testing, that suspicion was confirmed.

FILE PHOTO: Men's 4x100m relay Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter of Jamaica celebrate after winning the final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008.  Usain Bolt lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals after Jamaica team mate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.   REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Men's 4x100m relay Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter of Jamaica celebrate after winning the final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008. Usain Bolt lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals after Jamaica team mate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Carter’s sample showed traces of the banned substance methylhexaneamine and despite an appeal made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the medals were stripped from the Jamaicans upon their disqualification and awarded to the runners from Trinidad and Tobago.

The hope was to award the team with their medals in Tokyo during the 2020 Olympics, but Covid protocols did not allow for a ceremony to take place. Instead, the ceremony took place at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Richard Thompson described the moment, “When you see some of the names that are on the wall here, like Jesse Owens, Michael Phelps, Michael Johnson, Roger Federer – they are greats, they go beyond just sport, they have the ability to reach people from all walks of life and different parts of the globe. So, it is a huge honor for us to be here to donate items of ours as well from the final, and to have a space alongside these people.”

Although the relay team had to wait a long time to receive their medals, the delay made it possible for their family to be present for the ceremony which would not have been possible if it had taken place last year in Tokyo.

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.”

The reallocation of the gold medals to the rightful winners was made possible by re-examining stored testing samples from Beijing 2008. Since Athens 2004, samples have been stored after each Games so they can be re-analysed if and when new information or more testing innovations become available.

It is quite possible to see more reallocation ceremonies take place in the future. Before Tokyo 2020, a budget of $5 million was approved by the IOC Executive Board to store testing samples for up to 10 years. The program which is managed by the International Testing Agency will have access to thousands of blood samples which could prove doping allegations and overturn results from previous competitions.

While it would have been preferable to receive these medals during the height of excitement at the Beijing Games, receiving the medals now is a sigh of relief for the members of the relay team. Bach commended the men on their patience and cooperation as the investigation was underway and during the medal ceremony said, “Finally justice is being done.”