Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Date Started: August 15, 2008
Date Finished: August 19, 2008
With the man considered by many as the greatest 1,500 metre/miler ever, Moroccoâs [Hicham El Guerrouj], now retired, the race was far more open. The favorites in his absence were likely [Rashid Ramzi], a Moroccan now running for Bahrain, who had won the 800 and 1,500 at the 2005 World Championships, and Americaâs [Bernard Lagat], the 2000 bronze medalist and 2004 silver medalist, and 2007 World Champion at both 1,500 and 5,000 metres. Lagat had qualified again for both the 1,500 and 5K. But in Beijing Lagat was hampered with a left Achillesâ tendon problem and did not get past the semi-finals. That left it open for Ramzi, who had not raced much in 2007 or 2008 and was a bit of a mystery. In the final, the lead was taken on the first lap by Kenyaâs [Asbel Kiprop] who went thru 400 in 56.48. The pace was not fast enough to break up the field, and Kenyaâs [Augustine Choge] led thru 1,200 in 2:53.67, with a group of runners close on his heels. Ramzi then sprinted to the lead on the backstretch. Kiprop also powered ahead and moved into second. He could never get past Ramzi who won by slightly over a stride, Kiprop winning the silver. New Zealandâs [Nick Willis] was never in the race early, 11th with a lap left and 8th with 300 left. But he closed very fast and moved up for the bronze medal.
Using new detection techniques, urine samples from the Olympics were retested in early 2009. Traces of CERA were found in the sample of Ramzi, which was announced in April. Tests of the B sample were also reported positive later in the year, and the IOC Executive Committee officially stripped the Bahraini of his title in November 2009. The other medals were redistributed, with France's [Mehdi Baala] receiving his bronze medal at a special ceremony in Paris in January 2010.