WHEN does an Olympic bronze medal not really feel like an Olympic bronze medal? Probably when it is awarded five years after the event.

John Jackson can now celebrate his status as a Winter Olympic medal winner, but the Barnard Castle bobsleigh driver has been deprived the recognition and enjoyment that should rightfully have been his. That is what happens when a sport is ravaged by drug-taking on a state-sponsored scale.

In 2014, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Jackson led a British team that also featured Bruce Tasker, Joel Fearon and Stuart Benson as they finished fifth in the four-man bobsleigh final.

Russian crews finished in first and fourth position, but were subsequently found to have committed doping violations following a thorough reanalysis of samples that were taken at the Games and initially passed as clear.

The International Olympic Committee subsequently banned a number of Russian bobsledders, but it took until yesterday for the authorities to formally expunge the Russian performances from the record books and elevate the British team from fifth to third position.

The Russian athletes and their federation launched a number of appeals to try to reverse the decision to strip them of their medals from their home Games, but their attempts to try to outflank the IOC have finally come to an end.

“Recognition from the IOC of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic four-man bobsleigh result is a big step forward to us receiving our Olympic bronze medal,” said Jackson, who moved away from Barnard Castle when he joined the Royal Marines and began to combine his bobsleigh exploits with a career in the Armed Forces.

“Disappointingly, it is a medal we should have received on an Olympic podium in 2014. Cheats have cost us that moment, along with other nations too. Finally, as a team, we have the result we have waited so long for, and the whole of Team GB has a total haul of five from the Games.”

The bobsleigh medal means the 2014 Games should have been regarded as the most successful Winter Olympics in British history, with the bronze standing alongside the skeleton gold won by Lizzy Yarnold, the snowboard slopestyle bronze claimed by Jenny Jones and the silver and bronze medals won by the men’s and women’s curling rinks respectively.

Instead, the Games were viewed as something of a disappointment at the time, with the British team failing to meet UK Sport’s pre-Olympic medal target.

That had implications in terms of funding, and it could be argued that subsequent decisions over the money made available for bobsleigh have been negatively affected by the initial failure to award Jackson and his team a bronze medal.

Had they finished above the two Russian teams from the outset, perhaps Consett bobsleigh driver Mica McNeill would not have had to embark on a crowdfunding appeal just to be able to participate at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

“Everyone involved in British Olympic sport, and most particularly the athletes, will be delighted by the overdue award of the four-man bob bronze medal from Sochi,” said BOA chairman Sir Hugh Robertson

“However, it is yet another example of British athletes denied their moment of podium glory by state-sponsored cheating.”

The athletes will be able to decide where they would like to be awarded their medals, with a ceremony at the next Winter Games in Beijing in 2022 a possibility.

However, an alternative option in the next year or so will be put forward in an attempt to reduce the length of time they will have to wait.