IAAF wants U.S. relay team stripped of 2000 gold medal

Johnson-led 1,600 team tied to Young doping case

July 19, 2004|By Philip Hersh | Philip Hersh,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The head of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, Dr. Arne Ljungqvist of Sweden, is not surprised that U.S. athletes continue to be caught for doping despite the sobering lesson the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal should have provided.

And Ljungqvist thinks the latest rash of positive tests, which includes three revealed by the Chicago Tribune last week, is a positive sign.

"It is sort of expected," Ljungqvist said. "Once the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency began to take proper actions, things would be found. This also signifies things were not done properly earlier. Things were either not discovered or kept secret."

One of those cases involved Jerome Young, a relay gold medalist at the 2000 Olympics. The day he won the 400 meters at the 2003 world championships, the Los Angeles Times reported Young had tested positive for steroids in 1999 yet had been allowed to compete in the 2000 Olympics after a controversial decision by a USA Track and Field appeals panel to overturn the finding of a doping violation.

Yesterday, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) decided all of Young's results from June 26, 1999, to June 25, 2001, including relays, should be annulled. That means all members of the U.S. Olympic champion 1,600-relay team, led by superstar Michael Johnson, would lose their medals.

The IAAF action must be ratified by the International Olympic Committee, which has said it would grant the athletes a hearing if the track federation recommended loss of medals. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said yesterday the IOC executive board would make a decision at its meeting just before next month's Olympics.

"There is nothing for me to do until the final decision is made because the IAAF [is] not in a position to make the final decision," Johnson, who has five Olympic gold medals, told The Dallas Morning News. "Their decision is what it is, a recommendation."

Young ran in the preliminary round. The finalists were Johnson, Antonio Pettigrew, and twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison. Calvin Harrison faces a two-year ban for stimulant positives in 1993 and 2003, and the USADA is seeking a lifetime ban for Alvin Harrison from evidence in the BALCO case.

After the Sydney Olympics, the USADA, an independent agency, took over all matters involving doping by U.S. athletes, removing the individual sports federations and U.S. Olympic Committee from the testing and adjudication process.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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