HOUSTON, Texas - Until two months ago, Luz Acosta was a trainer at Texas Strength weightlifting in Houston's EaDo neighborhood. Now, she's a bronze medalist in weightlifting for Team Mexico.
"Officially, I have a medal," Acosta laughed with excitement.
Since competing in the 2012 London Olympics, Acosta has rocketed from sixth place to third in the standing for her 63 kilogram weight class.
"After five years it sounds ridiculous," admitted Acosta.
The reason why for the big delay in receiving her Olympic triumph? Doping.
The International Olympic Committee says it stores athlete urine samples for 10 years so they can be reanalyzed when new testing is developed. Doping in weightlifting has been such a problem that the IOC has cut down the number of weightlifting events, though it will be one of the 28 sports on the program at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
According to the IOC, at least 98 samples from the London and 2008 Beijing games have retested positive for doping. Nearly half of those cases were in weightlifting, with a few in Acosta's weight class.
"It was like something was stolen that belonged to me," said Acosta.
After 20 years of training, she's disappointed her Olympic triumph won't be what she had always dreamt.
"Obviously, I was always thinking of a medal but in a podium with my flag and everything, I never imagined it this way," she said.
Still, what makes up for the lack of fanfare? Acosta says it's knowing she has set a positive example for clean competing.
"You don't want to be for five minutes a champion and the rest of your life at the hospital, it doesn't make sense," she said of the long-term impact of the performance enhancing substances banned by the IOC.
Her gym, Texas Strength, threw Acosta a surprise medal ceremony party last month. She'll receive her real Olympic medal in October.
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