While driving to the Atlanta airport on Wednesday, Adam Nelson may have won a gold medal in the shot-put at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
In what could amount to one of the more peculiar outcomes in Olympic history, Nelson ascended to first place more than 3,000 days after the competition when doping officials ruled that the athlete who originally won gold at the Athens Games, Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, was guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. His urine sample had been reanalyzed, and steroids were detected.
Nelson’s triumph, as it were, was unceremonious. He did not stand atop a podium, and the national anthem did not play.
He was in his Mazda3 hatchback when he heard the news.
“I’m still processing this one, but the 2004 Olympics were a really special moment for me,” Nelson, 37, said. “My wife was there, a bunch of my friends from college, my family. We competed at the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The downside of this is I feel like our country was robbed of a medal at the relevant time. One of the biggest parts of an Olympic career is when you hear your anthem and see your flag when you stand on that podium. That’s something I can never replace."