Although Ecuador has yet to win a medal in this year’s Olympic competition in Rio, it may walk away with one by default. And it would be gold.
The country’s Olympic Committee and a number of private citizens have been in talks with the International Olympic Committee to award a gold medal to race walker Jefferson Perez. At the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, Perez placed second to Russian Valery Borchin in his final competition.
Following the games, Borchin was suspended from all competition for eight years by the Russian Anti-doping Agency, and Perez supporters believe Borchin’s medal should go to Perez. Although there were rumors that Borchin was doped at the time of the 2008 race, Perez refused to discuss them, saying all he could control was his own performance.
Perez’s case is not the only one in which previous Olympic awards are being reviewed. Also in the Beijing games, the gold medals of the Russian 4×100 relay team could be given to the second-place Jamaican team, also for doping. Over the years, more than two dozen medals have been reassigned based on doping and other rules infractions.
A private initiative to award Perez the gold, Jeff Marcha to Rio, says it believes the medal will eventually be given to the Ecuadorian.
Perez, who is from Cuenca, is Ecuador’s only Olympic gold medalist. He won the race walking competition at the 1996 Atlanta games.