Canada could be adding a second gold medal to its tally from the 2012 London Olympics as weightlifter Christine Girard appears one step closer to being promoted from third place to the top of the podium.
The International Olympic Committee has stripped Russia's Svetlana Tzarukaeva of the silver medal she won in London after retesting of her samples showed evidence of the prohibited substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
Girard was the bronze medallist in the 63-kilogram class in 2012 but with gold medallist Maiya Maneza already stripped of her result for a positive retest last fall, the Canadian should eventually be bumped to first place.
The IOC did not clarify in Wednesday's release announcing the sanctions how the medals would be redistributed. The Canadian Olympic Committee said it was checking into the matter.
"When I moved up from third to second I was happy, but to go from second to first has different implications," said Girard. "Canada only had one gold medal in London and this would give us a second."
Trampoline star Rosie MacLennan was Canada's only Olympic champion at the London Games.
While Girard is happy that gold may be coming her way, she can't help but think about what she missed.
"This result is more important for the visibility of my sport," she said. "And before, when I thought back to the medal in London I had only good memories. Now it has a bit of a bitter side because the medal ceremony, that's the magic moment. It would have been even moreso if I knew I was getting the gold medal."
The 32-year-old Girard, who grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., and now coaches weightlifters in the Vancouver area, became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic weightlifting medal when she finished third in London.
Olympic weightlifting medals are determined by the sum of each lifter's best result in the snatch and the clean and jerk, with three attempts allowed in each.
With a total of 236 kilograms, Girard narrowly lost out to Tsarukaeva's 237 in London.
"It sends a clear message," Girard said of the move to strip the medals. "Sometimes we feel that we're not competing on a level playing field in international competition, but this decision sends the message that it's worth it to stay true to our values.
"It's a positive not only for Canadian athletes, but for all the little girls who want to take part in a traditionally male sport."
It was not the first time Girard has moved up due to another athlete's doping violations.
She learned in August 2016 that she would get the bronze medal from the 2008 Games in Beijing when silver medallist Irina Mekrassova of Kazakhstan failed a re-test. Girard had finished fourth in the event.
She has yet to receive her bronze medal and expects to have to wait for the London medal.
Appeals, and the time it takes for international and domestic sports federations to deal with the stripping of a medal, means a medal redistribution can move at a glacial pace.
Canadian shot-putter Dylan Armstrong received a bronze medal from Beijing over six years after finishing fourth there.
But the IOC seems to be moving with more urgency on doping matters given the barrage of criticism is has taken recently.
Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott had two separate ceremonies months apart upgrading her 2002 Olympic bronze to silver and then to gold.
"I have high hopes that I will get my medals eventually," she said.
Uzbek wrestler Artur Taymazov, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Ukrainian wrestler Vasyl Fedoryshyn, who won silver, have been ordered by the IOC to return their medals due to doping infractions.
The IOC, which stores doping samples for 10 years, reanalyzed more than 1,000 samples from Beijing and London with improved techniques that can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.
A total of 65 sanctions have now been imposed on Olympic athletes from the Beijing Games due to retests, the IOC said. Five of those cases were in 2009 and 59 in re-analysis last year.
Of those 65 sanctions, 40 involve medals that have been or are likely to be reallocated.
The total is 45 sanctions and 20 medals for athletes at the London Olympics, including four Russians who were targeted later as a result of an investigation by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren into a state-backed doping program.
The three latest cases all involved dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, also known as turinabol, the steroid best known for East Germany's doping program in the 1970s and '80s.
— With files from AP and Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis
The Canadian Press