from doping to winning a world title, hammer thrower Quentin Bigot’s progress

15.00, 14 July 2022

As his competition opens the World Athletics Championships in Eugene on Friday, Quentin Bigot joined the US base for the French team, Linfield College, south of Portland, at the helm. With the status of vice-world champion to defend, but above all the wind in the back. The launch pad has just raised its marker beyond 80 meters (80.55) and detached itself from a barrier as symbolic of the hammer as the one at 10 seconds over 100 meters. He knows himself “in the game”, feel it “the title has never been so possible”. But do not forget the closeness of his discipline, which can quickly refer him “in seventh place”.

With his 1.78 meters and his quintal, Bigot emerges in the category of small throwers. The technique is fine, reliable, and the gains can be easily seen as the physical tests improve. In a discipline where the movements can be close to weightlifting, he lifts, for example, 110 kilos in squats in sets of four. His colleagues sometimes go up to 140, even 150 kilos, we can see there a path to progression. Hans is in any case linear: “Since 2016, where there have been no errors or Covid, I have taken 1 meter, yes even 1.5 meters, per season.”

He was 19 when he crossed the doping line

If the money from Doha Worlds in 2019 had been noticed, especially in the midst of a collective discontent, fifth place at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer inevitably went unnoticed. His performance on the day (79.39 meters) would have made him the Olympic champion in the previous edition. “Even in the 1980s with the Soviets and the East Germans, it generally did not go that far,” he remembers. A time and nationalities that evoke dark ideas, obscured by doping. The subject was also his, young people with false promises. In this case, stanozolol, an anabolic steroid that Ben Johnson had succumbed to. He was 19 when he started crossing the line when he feared the London Games would be a mirage. Positive control in 2014. Suspension of four years reduced by half: he had the intelligence to circumvent the usual denial, join the collaboration and pedagogy.

After calling Pierre-Jean Vazel, a fairly referenced sprint coach so far (Ronald Pognon, Christine Arron), Quentin Bigot picked up the thread in the competition while weaving his redemption. The return to the French team was “a difficult phase”, shrouded in fear of sideways glances. “Men, he said, I was lucky to come across understanding people most of the time. » We asked the question of receiving the exiled remorse by remembering a conversation with decathlete Kevin Mayer in late 2019 that evoked his comrade from the 1992 generation: “I no longer have a personal relationship with him, even though he was a good friend. We saw each other for training, we criticized people who doped themselves. The day he was crushed, I felt betrayed. »

His everyday life is the same since the world medal

Between the two most important French medal chances in Eugene, time did its job. “We have good relations today, emphasizes the jug. Kevin came to me last year, shortly before Tokyo. It made me very happy to talk to him, to communicate normally again. » The environment acquitted him, conscious of his efforts, conscious of his attitude. Doping is not a pleasant subject, but neither is taboo. We also had to forgive ourselves, “not to lower his head any more for a bullshit made as a 19-year-old”.

The doping mark will stick to me for life

Remains a fine fringe of the public, with the final verdict, without return. The seven-time champion of France is aware of the indelible mark, even reduced. “95% I have no more hateful comments on social media. But I know I will never agree and some say to themselves: “Your performance keeps rising, you take us for idiots.” The doping mark will stick with me my whole life. The only thing I can do at best is to put a T-shirt over it. »

The man is now married and a young father. The athlete did not see his daily life changed by the world medal. Same training habits in his Metz club. Same job on the side to secure the rear: locomotive driver, from September to December. Here we touch the limits of attraction by throwing, poor relatives of fragile athletics. After Doha, Quentin Bigot had to search for himself to access his equipment supplier (Le Coq sportif). No money, only scholarships. Yet he sees – and this is not the least reassuring in his story – that he has inspired a few children who are curious to discover the hammer and the rotations that come with it. Or the organizers of the Diamond League meeting in Paris, opened for the first time for the discipline three weeks ago.

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