Flower Power: Alysia Montano

In response to Russian doping, U.S. athletes rally around Alysia Montano

Alysia Montano could gain four belated podium finishes if Russian track athletes' medals are discounted. (AP)
Photo: AP

The scale of Monday’s allegations of Russian track and field doping was large enough that it can by hard to know who all was affected. But one woman in particular may be affected more than any other. Alysia Montano, the six-time national 800-meter champion has consistently finished just off podium of world championships and Olympics, going as far back as 2010. Should the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) accept the advice of the World Anti-Doping Agency report, which calls for bans on five Russian athletes, the result would drastically affect Montano’s finishes even years later. On Monday, Montano took stock of what could be her amended results.

The IAAF has yet to take action, despite the International Olympic Committee’s pledge on Wednesday to take “all the necessary measures and sanctions with regard to the withdrawal and reallocation of medals.” But U.S. athletes aren’t waiting, instead taking to social media to show support of Montano and for justice to be served. 

Training partners Molly Huddle and Amy Hastings, both professional distance runners based in Providence, Rhode Island, conceived the campaign on Tuesday, using the hashtags “FlyingFlower” and “PetalstotheMetals,” which refers to Montano’s habit of wearing a flower in her hair while competing. Donning flowers and encouraging others to do the same, the pair started a movement.

“It was a nice way to offer our friend a social media standing ovation,” Huddle told Outside on Thursday. “It doesn't bring back the moments she should have had as an Olympic and world champs medalist, but it does show there is hope that the sport is going in the right direction soon and that there are bright spots, inspiring stories, and good role models among the scandals.“

Since Tuesday, the campaign has found both national and international athletes offering their support on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, including American record-holder Shalane Flanagan, former New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg, mid-distance great Molly Ludlow, and world championship medalist Kara Goucher.

“This affects all of us,” Goucher told Outside, ”but we can band together to make each voice stronger.”

“I feel incredibly moved by the internal support within the sport. It’s everything,” Montano said on Thursday. “It makes me feel like I’m not in this alone. It brings back hope in the sport.” 

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