But there is a new contender for that dubious honour: the women's 1500 metres final at London 2012, a drug-ravaged event whose fall-out continues to this day.

No less than six of the top nine in the London 1500m, including the gold and silver medallists, have served bans before or since.

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Turkey's muscular powerhouse Asli Cakir Alptekin, who had already served a two-year doping suspension, crossed the line first but had the victory annulled and is serving an eight-year ban after irregularities were found in her biological passport.

Asli Cakir Alptekin

Image credit: AFP

Compatriot Gamze Bulut, who had improved her personal best by an eyebrow-raising 18 seconds in the previous year, finished second but was also later banned for abnormal blood levels.

Russia's Tatyana Tomashova, who had served a two-year ban up to 2010 for switching urine during a test, finished fourth.

Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin (centre, in focus) runs to a gold medal finish in the women's 1500m final during the London 2012 Olympics

Image credit: Reuters

Fifth-placed Ethiopia-born Swede and 2013 world champion Abeba Aregawi tested positive for meldonium in January this year, although had her ban was lifted in July due to a lack of clarity over the drug's properties.

Russian Ekaterina Kostetskaya (seventh) and Belarussian Natallia Kareiva (ninth), have been subsequently banned, as were two other athletes from the heats.

London 2012 women's 1500m v Seoul 1988 men's 100m

Ben Johnson of Canada (R), wearing his gold medal, shakes hands with silver medalist Carl Lewis of the U.S. after winning the men's 100 meters sprint final at the Olympics in Seoul September 24, 1988 (Reuters)

Image credit: Reuters

Four of the first five in the memorable Seoul showdown tested positive for banned drugs at some point in their career. Original gold medallist Ben Johnson of Canada was caught at the Games themselves.

Carl Lewis, who clocked 9.92 seconds, was promoted to the gold medal ahead of Britain's Linford Christie who then took the silver in front of Calvin Smith.

Lewis's time was eventually recognised as the official world record when Johnson's mark of 9.83 seconds, set at the 1987 Rome world championships, was also erased.

In the popular mythology of the time Lewis, a glorious sprinter and long jumper who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was the clean-cut hero and Johnson a scowling villain. It was an image Lewis was keen to foster.

"In the old Westerns they had the guy in the white hat and the black hat," Lewis said years later. "I felt like the clean guy going out and trying to win, I was the guy in the white hat, trying to beat this evil guy."

Ben Johnson of Canada (R) celebrates in front of Carl Lewis of the US (L) after winning the men's 100 metres final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics

Image credit: Reuters

Not everybody warmed to Lewis and his incessant self-promotion coupled with a holier-than-thou attitude to drugs offenders. The sceptics felt vindicated when it was revealed in 2003 that Lewis had failed three drugs tests for stimulants during the 1988 Olympic trials. Under the rules of the time he should have been banned from the Games but the results were covered up by the US Olympic Committee after it accepted his plea that he had innocently taken a herbal supplement.

Christie failed a test for the stimulant pseudoephedrine after the final but was cleared on a split decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) medical commission when he argued that he had taken it inadvertently in ginseng tea.

If Lewis had been banned from the Games and Christie disqualified, Smith would have been next in line for the gold medal and his world record would have stood once Johnson's times were scrubbed from the books.

ATHLETICS Ben Johnson Linford Christie Carl Lewis 1988 Olympic 100m final

Image credit: Imago

The tearful British star who called out the dopers straight after the London 2012 race

Britain's Lisa Dobriskey finished 10th in the women's 1500m final in 2012, and famously said afterwards: "I'll probably get into trouble for saying this but I don't believe I'm competing on a level playing field."

Dobriskey said she had raised her concerns with the IAAF earlier in the season when Cakir Alptekin was posting times faster than in the period when she had previously been doping.

Without proof, nothing could be done.

Lisa Dobriskey sits behind Morgan Uceny in the women's 1500m semi-final at the Olympic Games

Image credit: AFP

The Briton had every right to be frustrated having already been cheated out of a medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008: she was pipped for bronze by Ukrainian Nataliya Tobias, who later tested positive for testosterone.

"After the (2012) race I wanted to cry," Dobriskey said recently.

"It should have been a joyous moment in front of my home crowd but I felt humiliated. I felt I had to apologise for my performance to my family and friends.

"The most upsetting thing is that I just felt our sport had moved on so much more from 1988. It should be harder to cheat than back then but that doesn't seem to be the case."

ATHLETICS 2008 Beijing Olympics Nancy Jebet Langat of Kenya reacts after winning the women's 1500m final as Lisa Dobriskey (background) finishes fourth

Image credit: Reuters

Anger, frustration and tears - but no medals re-allocated yet

American Shannon Rowbury finished sixth in London and went through the same emotional mix of anger and frustration as Dobriskey.

"While those women were doing their victory lap I was sobbing, trying to get enough control to face my family," she said in a recent video blog.

Almost four years on, despite the bans, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) still lists the same race finishing order and has done nothing about reallocating the medals.

Clean athletes in the race, meanwhile, have had to pick up information from social media, something Rowbury said just added to the pain.

"As an athlete whose life and livelihood has been negatively effected by drug cheats, I would ask for establishing a better protocol," she told Reuters in an email.

"I did receive a message from (IAAF President) Seb Coe, which I very much appreciate. He explained some of the complications and said he hoped to work towards a more timely information process."

Shannon Rowbury will compete at Rio 2016

Image credit: Reuters

Rowbury said she would like to see a re-awarding protocol "that helps the athlete to regain a small piece of what was robbed from them".

Her desire is for somebody inheriting a medal, for example, to be awarded it at the next Olympics rather than receiving it in a brown envelope.

Rowbury will at least get another chance to make up for her disappointment in Rio, having qualified for her third Olympics.

Dobriskey, though, after a wretched time with injuries, is set to head into retirement forever wondering.

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