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Campaign to return Olympic medal to Alain Baxter

Alain Baxter after winning his medal in 2002. Picture: AP

Alain Baxter after winning his medal in 2002. Picture: AP

A new online campaign has been launched to have Scottish skier Alain Baxter’s Olympic bronze medal returned to him after it was controversially stripped following a drugs test failure.

Baxter’s bronze was the first ever Olympic snowsports medal won by a British skier or boarder.

Baxter said yesterday that he was “overwhelmed” by the support that had been shown by campaigners and had “not given up hope” of “justice being done.”

Baxter said he wanted the bronze medal for his three young children to realise he had not been a cheat.

The 40-year-old’s historic achievement 12 years ago at salt Lake City in America was tarnished by controversy after he tested positive for banned substances after the race.

Now an online petition to overturn the injustice has attracted nearly 2000 signatures in just two days.

“We the undersigned call on the International Olympic Committee and other relevant bodies to restore the olympic bronze medal won by Alain Baxter at the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City,” says the petition

The campaign comes after snowboarder Jenny Jones landed a bronze at the current Sochi Olympics in Russia and statements from the head of Team GB that Jones’ medal is the first ever won by a British athlete.

History ‘re-written’

The comments have revived annoyance in some areas of the “grassroots snowsports community” who feel that history is being re-written.

Baxter’s bronze medal was taken off him when he failed a post race drugs test after his slalom success in Utah.

It was established that he failed because he had bought an over-the-counter Vick’s inhaler in America which included the banned substance levomethamphetamine.

British Vicks inhalers do not include levomethamphetamine and Baxter had not realised there would be a difference.

Levomethamphetamine has been shown to have zero performance enhancing qualities.

Baxter, backed by the then British Ski and Snowboard Federation, appealed to the Court of Arbitration in Sport who overturned a ban placed on Baxter’s future competing.

The British Olympic Association then appealed for the medal to be returned at the Court of Arbitration in Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland but lost the appeal on the grounds of “strict liability”, meaning that even though accepting Baxter’s argument was correct, he was still liable and should have known better.

Some reports have suggested that double standards are at play with some higher profile international athletes who won their cases in similar circumstances to Baxter having their medals returned, while Baxter’s was not.

Baxter, whose parents were both British Ski Team members, and named him after the 70s French skiing star Alain Penz, joined the British Alpine Ski Team aged 16 in 1991 and worked his way through the world rankings, first making the top 100 in time for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

Today the proud Scot said he wanted “justice to be finally done” also for the sake of his three children who have set out on the slopes at the same age he did.

Legal

Baxter first strapped on his skis at the age of just two.

Baxter is hoping his three children, Kerr, seven, Brooke, five, and Callie, three, will follow in his illustrious ski tracks.

But the Scot admits that if any of them ever win an Olympic medal - though proud - it will not make up for his own loss.

However Alain, 40, revealed he has not given up hope of seeing justice being done.

“I have to be sure I`m certain to win, I can`t afford the legal cost of failure. I`ve been there before,” said Baxter.

“But I have not given up hope and I have been approached by people who also feel strongly about righting the wrong about a way forward.

“I have found the support from people overwhelming. I just can’t believe it - but they have supported me throughout my career and through all of this.

“I would love my kids to see it on me and I would like justice to be finally done.

“I would like it back for me and also to get my medal back for my children.”

Baxter returned home to Aviemore to a hero’s welcome and a parade around the town in an open top bus.

But a few days after his return home, he discovered that he had failed a drug test.

Baxter said it took “thousands of hours” - including up to six hours-a-day in the gym - to make it to the top.

And realistically, talented British skiiers have to be based in Europe by the age of 14.

“I would be prepared to do that for my children if they showed the potential. I was out there from 16. It is the miles on the slopes early on that we miss here in Scotland,” he said.

“Scotland is a great place for kids to learn. I am at Cairngorm with the kids on Friday.”

The former BBC Superstars winner`s best result in a World Cup was 4th at Åre in 2001 and he had three other top 10 finishes that year too.

Edinburgh-born Baxter even went naked for his own calendar.

Baxter now runs a ski boot fitting shop in Stirling, where he lives in the area with wife Sheila, 41, and their three children.

 

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