Russia's Mariya Savinova (centre) won gold, South Africa's Caster Semenya (left) won silver and Russia's Ekaterina Poistogova won bronze during the women's 800m at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Action Images/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Caster Semenya can now officially call herself a two-time Olympic champion and triple 800m world champion after Russian Mariya Savinova’s ban was upheld. 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year ruled Savinova be stripped of her gold medals from the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2011 World Championships after she was found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. 

Savinova appealed the decision that disqualified all her competitive results from July 26, 2010 to August 26, 2013 and included a four-year ban from the sport. 

The CAS dismissed Savinova’s appeal at the end of last month, which effectively upgraded Semenya from silver to gold. 

Caster Semenya can now officially call herself a two-time Olympic champion and triple 800m world champion. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Caster Semenya can now officially call herself a two-time Olympic champion and triple 800m world champion. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

“The athlete has distorted multiple high-level competitions, damaged numerous other athletes and has breached the applicable rules on many occasions using multiple different substances and did so in full knowledge of the circumstances,” the CAS said in its ruling. 

“The overall integrity of athletics has suffered heavily from the athlete’s behaviour. Such behaviour, thus, warrants a serious sanction.”

Semenya finished behind Savinova at both the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and the London 2012 Olympic Games. She is effectively the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic 800m gold medals and the first female to boast double titles in the two-lap race at the Games. 

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Semenya won her third 800m gold medal at last year’s world championships in London, eight years after she won her maiden title in Berlin 2009. 

Savinova was identified in secret recordings in the documentary where she admitted to taking banned substances.

Last year, the CAS ruled there was “clear evidence” from her biological passport that she had been doping from July 2010 to 2013.

“As a consequence, a four-year period of ineligibility, beginning on August 24, 2015, has been imposed and all results achieved by her between July 26, 2010 and August 19, 2013, are disqualified. 

“Any prizes, medals, prize and appearance money will also be forfeited,” the CAS said in its initial ruling. 

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