When a guy comes in ninth and still wins an Olympic medal, you know the drug problem in sport is bad

Better late than never.
Better late than never.
Image: Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler
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Polish weightlifter Tomasz Zielinski has finally won an Olympic medal—for an event he competed in four years ago.

Zielinski finished ninth in the 94kg category at the London 2012 games, but was belatedly awarded a bronze medal after six lifters tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs when their 2012 samples were retested this year.

All three of the original winners— Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin, who won gold and broke two world records; Russia’s Aleksandr Ivanov, who won silver; and Moldova’s Anatolie Ciricu, who initially took home the bronze—have since been stripped of their medals. The fourth-, sixth-, and seventh-place finishers were also disqualified. That left Iran’s Saeid Mohammad, originally fifth, the new London 2012 champion. South Korea’s Kim Min-jae, who was eighth, now has the silver, and Zielinski the bronze.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reanalyzed hundreds of samples from the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympics using more advanced testing methods. By the end of July, a total of 98 athletes from the Beijing and London games tested positive for prohibited substances.

Ironically, while Zielinski’s sample from 2012 turned up clean, he tested positive ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Zielinski and his weightlifting brother, Adrian Zielinski, were banned from the competition in Rio and sent back to Poland.