The pilot of Great Britain’s four-man bobsleigh team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has welcomed the news they have finally been awarded bronze medals but said cheats had cost the quartet their moment on the podium.
John Jackson and his team-mates originally finished in fifth place, 0.11 seconds off a bronze medal, but the Russian quartets that finished first and fourth have both since been disqualified for doping offences.
The Russian athletes involved, most notably double Sochi gold medallist Alexandr Zubkov, have fought those disqualifications with appeals and delaying tactics but now, at last, the International Olympic Committee has formally ratified the amended results in the two-man and four-man events.
This means Jackson, Stuart Benson, Joel Fearon and Bruce Tasker are now Olympic bronze medallists and Team GB’s medal haul from Sochi increases to five, making it Great Britain’s joint most successful Winter Games with Pyeongchang 2018.
In a British Olympic Association statement, Jackson said: “Recognition from the IOC of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic four-man bobsleigh result is a big step forward to us receiving our Olympic bronze medal.
“Disappointingly, it is a medal we should have received on an Olympic podium in 2014. Cheats have cost us that moment, along with other nations too.”
The reallocation of medals in the four-man event means Latvia now get gold and the United States take silver. In the two-man event, Switzerland are the new winners, with the US second and Latvia third.
As a result of these changes, the family of American pilot Steven Holcomb will receive his two silver medals as he died in May 2017.
The BOA will now work with its athletes to find a time and a place for their medal ceremony, while the IOC will have to send the Latvian and Swiss crews new gold medals, as Zubkov and co have made it very clear that they will not be returning theirs.
BOA chairman Sir Hugh Robertson said: “Everyone involved in British Olympic sport, and most particularly the athletes, will be delighted by the overdue award of the four-man bob bronze medal from Sochi.
“However, it is yet another example of British athletes being denied their moment of podium glory by state-sponsored cheating.”
The team’s chef de misssion Mike Hay said: “John, Stuart, Bruce and Joel have waited over five years for official confirmation for what I’m sure they’ve known all along.
“Their patience and dignity throughout this time is to their huge credit and it’s incredibly pleasing to finally be able to refer to them all as Olympic bronze medallists.”
Team GB’s other medals in Sochi were Lizzy Yarnold’s gold in the skeleton, Jenny Jones’ snowboard slopestyle bronze, and a silver and bronze in the men’s and women’s curling respectively.