PM awaits confirmation of silver medal for weightlifter

Samoa is awaiting confirmation of a silver medal for weightlifter Ele Opeloge after two athletes were stripped off their titles for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was shocked when he received news of this development during a media conference yesterday.

He says while the new placement should move Opeloge into second place, he leaves the final decision to the Olympic Committee.

“That’s their responsibility. What we should take as a lesson here is to be very careful with these substances, that’s the more important thing for our Olympic Committee and athletes to be aware of,” Tuilaepa said.

“All we can do is watch our own athletes. But when you talk about removing honors of medals already bestowed because of unsportsmanlike conducts such as these, that’s the Olympic Authority’s job,” he added.

Tuilaepa said credit should be given where credit is due, in this case, a silver medal for where it belongs.

Samoa Weighlifting Association President Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork has confirmed the medals are being withdrawn from the two female lifters who were above Opeloge.

“There were actually 15 from the 2008 Olympics that were tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, five of which were women, and two were from Ele’s category,” said Tuaopepe.

“Ele now automatically has moved up the two slots for silver. In time it shall be announced by the proper authorities,” he added.

What is startling is the results of a re-analysis of doping samples are being released eight years after the initial games in Beijing.

“We still don’t understand how it took so long. But it was when we were at the Rio Olympics that they noticed that many of the athletes were being tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. So they said that they have finally received the proper technology that could determine the drug tests much clearer including those from 2008,” he said.

However, Tuaopepe is thankful for the discovery saying this is the beginning of greater things for Samoa and for Ele Opeloge.

“It will take from about a week to a month depending on the process to finally say we have it in hand because part of this process may include a denial from the other athletes being stripped of the medals. So it’s the usual process but we have to wait,” said Tuaopepe.


Joshua Lafoai