Russian freestyle wrestler Besik Kudukhov is considered to be the most dominant wrestler in the history of modern wrestling. Kudukhov won the World Wrestling Championships in two different weight categories for four consecutive years between 2007 to 2011.
Without a doubt, Kudukhov was the best freestyle wrestler never to win an Olympic gold medal. Kudukhov won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics while competing in the 55 kilogram category and the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics while competing in the 60 kilogram category.
Kudukhov’s accomplishments were legendary and the Russian Ossetian wrestler was a hero to many in the freestyle community around the world. Before Kudukhov could even dream of capturing the gold at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics, tragedy struck when he was killed in a car accident on December 29, 2013.
Kudukhov died at the young age of 27 years old. He left behind his mother Leila, his wife Christina and a 1-year old daughter. Kudukhov was taken from them too early but at least his family could take comfort in Kudkhov’s status as well-respected and celebrate hero in the sport of freestyle wrestling. Nothing could take that memory away from them.
Unfortunately, the anti-doping crusaders at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would show no mercy when it decided to reanalyze the stored urine sample of the deceased Olympic athlete. The goal of the analysis is to catch steroid users, to punish them and to shame them.
It apparently didn’t matter that Kudukhov had been dead for over 2 years. The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years. And it still had Kudokhov’s urine from the 2012 London Olympics. It didn’t matter that they could not punish Kudokhov directly. The IOC could still do its best to embarrass the surviving family members of Kudokhov by dishonoring and tarnishing the memory
And the IOC succeeded by finding traces of a banned performance-enhancing drug (PED) during a 2016 reanalysis of Kudukhov’s stored sample. Kudukhov was one of 98 athletes from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics who failed. The IOC generally moves to retroactively disqualify athletes who test positive during reanalysis.
Since Kudukhov is dead, he is not able to defend himself against the IOC’s allegations. Furthermore, if the IOC wishes to retroactively strip the late Kudukhov of his Olympic silver medal, it will have to take the medal away from his widow and his young daughter.
This also means that the bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics would see his medal upgraded to a silver. Indian freestyle wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt would be in line to receive the 2012 London Olympic silver medal. However, Dutt recognized the poor taste of the IOC’s actions and quietly protested the stripping of an Olympic medal from a deceased competitor.
Rather than accept a silver medal, Dutt has refused to accept the Olympic medal upgrade. Dutt showed his respect for Kudukhov’s family. The Kudukhov family deserves to keep the silver medal and to “keep their honor intact”.
“For me humanity is above everything else,” Dutt wrote on Twitter out of respect to Kudukhov’s family.
अगर हो सके तो ये मेडल उन्ही के पास रहने दिया जाए। उनके परिवार के लिए भी सम्मानपूर्ण होगा। मेरे लिए मानवीय संवेदना सर्वोपरि है।
— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) August 31, 2016
It is a lesson that the IOC would do well to learn. The anti-doping crusade’s obsession with retroactively catching steroid users has gone too far. The crusade is so obsessed with the political targeting of doped Russian athletes that it doesn’t even matter that the athlete in question is dead.