Two female athletes engage in court fight over Olympic prize
Turkey’s Aslı Çakır Alptekin (R) and Gamze Bulut (2R) react after they finished first and second respectively in the women’s 1500m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games Aug 10, 2012. AFP PhotoSüreyya Ayhan Kop, a former Turkish Olympian and European Champion middle distance runner, as well as her husband and coach Yücel Kop, has filed a lawsuit against Aslı Çakır Alptekin, claiming they deserve a share in the prizes won by the 2012 Olympic 1,500m gold medal winner.
A contract between the parties grants such a right as the Kop family’s tactics helped Alptekin claim the title, the lawsuit said.
“This is what the agreement says. The legal process has begun,” Yücel Kop told Doğan news agency in a recent interview.
However, İhsan Alptekin, Aslı Çakır’s husband and coach, has denied the existence of such an agreement. “I was shocked when I saw the news in the press,” he said in a televised interview. “They want to scandalize us. ... These are people that I meet only once or twice a year. This is totally fake, a lie and slander.”
‘Who works for free?’
Yücel Kop also said İhsan Alptekin had insulted him in another interview. “We have been waiting for the past six months in patience. You are growing a sapling, and this becomes a European and Olympic champion,” he told the agency. “Shouldn’t we get what we deserve? Which coach would work for free?”
Yücel Kop said the Olympic champion used to run the 3,000m hurdles and was an “ordinary” athlete until she demanded help from his family, claiming that he was the one that advised her to shift to the 1,500m race.
The team worked together for three-and-a-half years, he said. “We were together all the time; even if not physically, we were at the other end of the phone line.”
The coach also said he received some payments from the runner during this period. Kop’s lawyer, Osman Buldan, told Doğan that the written agreement dated back to 2009 and that Alptekin wanted to benefit from Kop’s experience.
Buldan said the runner had paid 54,000 Turkish Liras to Süreyya Ayhan Kop until now as coaching fees, thereby proving a monetary connection. The agreement includes fingerprints of Aslı Çakır Alptekin, he also said.
Gold medal in London
Aslı Çakır Alptekin gained worldwide attention after she won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in the 1500m final, ahead of her fellow countrywoman Gamze Bulut. She also won a gold medal at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzen, China, and won the 1500m in a time of 3:56.62 at the Diamond League in Paris in 2012.
The victories marked a stunning turnaround for the runner after she received a two-year ban in September 2004 for taking illegal substances.
Doping was also what ended Sürreyya Ayhan Kop’s promising carrier. The 35-year-old was the first Turkish woman ever to reach an Olympic semi-final at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
The next year, she won the World Championship final, and she was the fastest in the 1500m in Europe in both 2002 and 2003. After a chain of injuries and doping tests starting on the eve of the 2004 Olympic Games, she received a lifetime ban for using illegal substances in 2009.
Both athletes have been role models for young Turkish sports people, particularly girls.