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Brandon Slay’s Path To Olympic Gold

Photo: Alamy Stock

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Looking back on the 2000 Olympic Games. The 76kg bracket lead to possibly one of the biggest stories in wrestling history. We talk about Rulon Gardner beating Aleksandr Karelin, Helen Maroulis beating Saori Yoshida, and even Tervel Dlagnev beating Artur Taymazov.

Brandon Slay’s upset of Buvaisar Saitiev gets pushed under the table a bit just due to the fact that he did not receive his gold medal until the champ was stripped of his medal due to popping for norandrosterone and norethiocholanolone which are present in nandrolone.

The main effect that nandrolone provides is to stimulate growth of skeletal muscle and lean body mass. There are some talks about how Leipold’s suspension went down as the urine testing was sketchy but there is not much you can do about it 22 years later.

Coming into the 2000 Olympics-

This would be a massive games in terms of upsets, legacies being made and more. Of course the upset of Aleksandr Karelin reigns supreme to anything that happened falling in his final bout ever.

Some of the guys that competed in Sydney are Buvaisar Saitiev, Adam Saitiev, Yoel Romero, Artur Taymazov, Terry Brands, Brandon Slay, and Alexander Leipold.

The 76kg Bracket-

If you looked at this bracket before the tournament went down not a single person would have predicted Brandon Slay to even make the gold medal match.

There were three guys who people were looking at, and these were Buvaisar Saitiev, Alexader Leipold, and Moon Eui-Jae.

Saitiev as we all know is a 3x Olympic Champion and a 6x World Champion and regarded by many people as the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time.

Alexander Leipold, the guy who won the weight class was also a World Champion in 1994, along with a 3x silver medalist at the World Championships with a bronze as well. Every single one of these losses at the World Championships would come at the hands of one of the Saitiev brothers or Moon Eui-Jae.

The final man Moon Eui-Jae of South Korea is possibly one of the most overlooked wrestlers of all time. This guys was phenomenal with two Olympic silver medals and two World silver medals. He lost to Alexander Leipold in 2000, Cael Sanderson in 2004, and Buvaisar Saitiev in both of his World Finals so a pretty rough draw.

About Brandon Slay-

Now you are probably thinking, where does Brandon Slay come into play in all of this? We look at Rulon, Helen, Tervel and none of them were nearly as much as an underdog as Brandon Slay coming into this tournament.

Slay would burst onto the scene in 2000 winning the US Open and would that this momentum all the way to Olympic Gold but what is most impressive about this run is not what he accomplished, it is who he beat.

The Saitiev Win-

At this point in his career Buvaisar Saitiev was untouchable, nobody was thought to be able to beat him. Everyone envisioned the Saitiev vs Leipold finals where that would be competitive but Saitiev would come out with another Olympic Gold.

Slay had other plans to this as he double leg takedown proved to the be the downfall of Saitiev. Back then only 6 wrestlers would end up making the final bracket. So essentially you would need to win your pool and advance to the main elimination bracket.

Basically this means Slay if he lost to that match to Saitiev would not have placed top 6. Saitiev on the other hand after that loss to Slay would take 9th (originally 10th) being that he was not able to wrestle another match outside of the pools.

The Main Bracket-

At this point Slay advanced to the main bracket and he had a lot to prove that that win was not just a fluke. He would wrestle Gennadiy Laliyev of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinal round. Laliyev actually look silver to Saitiev in the following Olympics in 2004.

Slay would sneak by Laliyev with a 2-2 win advancing himself into the semifinals where he would see Turkey’s Adem Bereket. This was again another hard fought match as he would take Bereket out and advance to the finals versus none other than Alexander Leipold.

Maybe slay dodged a bullet having Moon Eui-Jae on the other side of the bracket as he pinned Bereket in the bronze medal match but who knows.

Leipold would end up handing Slay his only loss of the tournament 4-0. Still it would go down as one of the better Olympic runs by an underdog but it was not talked about due to Rulon Gardner possibly pulling off one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

Alexander Leipold Stripped-

After the Olympic Games it was announced that gold medalist Alexander Leipold had tested positive for nandrolone.

Essentially the “sketchy” stuff that happened was with the urine testing as they claimed the amount that had been tested was more than the amount of urine that was submitted for the testing.

They appealed the two year suspension that they were initially given and it was reduced to one year with Leipold no longer having to pay the original costs.

Leipold would suffer a heart attack in 2003 at Tashkent being paralyzed on one side. He would suffer an additional two more heart attacks but he was able to recover and keep competing. However he would not claim another medal in his career internationally.

Brandon Slay Gets Gold-

Slay the original silver medalist would be awarded the gold medal from the Olympic Games with Moon Eui-Jae being awarded the silver medal and Adam Bereket being awarded the bronze medal (only one bronze back then).

Nowadays Slay is the Head Coach at the Pennsylvania RTC which has been on the massive uprise brining in guys like Jordan Burroughs, Joey McKenna, Mark Hall, and more.

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