The successful investigations by the International Olympic Committee against users of banned substances have greatly changed the results of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Athletes were advised that their samples, even if proving negative at the time of testing, would be stored and subject to further testing up to eight years later, given advances in methods used to detect violations of competitive rules.
Cuba was disappointed on receiving a first negative consequence of this policy in the case of Yarelis Barrios, a discus thrower appreciated for her combativity at peak competitive moments. No stimulants were detected in the samples provided by the Olympic silver medalist, but she did test positive for a banned diuretic and masking agent.
Cuban athletics recovered that silver medal, when Misleidys González advanced from fourth place in the shot put. Another medal (bronze) was then added by triple jumper Yargeris Savigne, who advanced from fifth position. In both cases two of their rivals were disqualified following further anti-doping tests.
The most important result for Cuba in the Olympic field was hammer thrower Yipsi Moreno’s promotion to gold medal holder, having originally secured silver.
At the end of the Beijing 2008 Games, the island had secured a total of five medals in different athletics disciplines (1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze). This has now grown to six (2-1-3). This makes Beijing Cuba’s third best Olympic performance in athletics, only surpassed by Barcelona 1992 (2-1-4) and Sydney 2000 (2-2-2).
Athletics now sits at the top among highest-ranking medal wins for the country in the Chinese capital. Boxing follows in terms of numbers, with a total of eight medals, none gold.
Overall, further testing modified the results of 16 track and field events.
Another sport that saw significant changes to results is that of weightlifting. Cubans who came close to securingmedals originally have also benefited. There are brand new bronze medals for Yordanis Borrero, Jadiel Valladares and Yoandris Hernández.
Right now Cuba has a total of 28 medals (3-10-15) from Beijing 2008. This is the third best historical performance, one medal away from Sydney and three from Barcelona.
As for the overall position in the medal chart, we will need to wait, as the testing process has not yet been completed. At the moment, Cuba has advanced from 28th to 19th place.
None of the latest medal wins have been give-aways. They reflect the efforts of Cuban athletes. This honor was stolen at the time by those athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs. The newly awarded deserved to enjoy their victories at the time, not so many years later.
The damage caused by those who violated sporting ethics cannot be compensated.