Marion Jones' former relay teammates paid the price for her doping offences, losing their medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
|The team-mates triumph has turned |
to tragedy [GALLO/GETTY]
The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified and stripped the medals from the athletes who won gold with Jones in the 1,600-metre relay and bronze in the 400-metre relay.
IOC legal adviser Francois Carrard, who assisted the disciplinary panel investigating the case, said the U.S. Olympic Committee has been ordered to return the medals.
The decision follows the admission by Jones last year that she was doping at the time of the Sydney Games.
She returned her five medals last year and the IOC formally stripped her of the results in December.
Jones won gold in the 100 meters, 200 and 1,600 relay, and bronze in the long jump and 400 relay.
Jones' teammates on the 1,600 squad were Jearl-Miles Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander-Richardson and Andrea Anderson.
The 400-relay squad also had Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson.
The runners had previously refused to give up their medals, saying it would be wrong to punish them for Jones' violations.
They have hired a U.S. lawyer to defend their case, which could wind up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"The decision was based on the fact that they were part of a team, that Marion Jones was disqualified from the Sydney Games due to her own admission that she was doping during those games,'' IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.
"She was part of a team and she competed with them in the finals.''
The IOC put off any decision Thursday on reallocating the medals, pending more information from the ongoing BALCO steroid investigation in the United States.
A reshuffling of the medals could affect the medal results of more than three dozen other athletes.
The IOC wants to know whether any other Sydney athletes are implicated in the BALCO files.
The next IOC board meeting takes place in Athens, Greece, in June, followed by another meeting in Beijing on the eve of the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.
"The decision ... illustrates just how far-reaching the consequences of doping can be,'' USOC chief executive officer Jim Scherr said in a statement.
"When an athlete makes the choice to cheat, others end up paying the price, including teammates, competitors and fans.
|It all ended in tears for Marion Jones [AFP]|
"We respect the decision of the IOC Executive Board, as well as the right for the athletes who are impacted by this decision to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration of Sport, should they so choose.''
Davies said there was no timetable for a decision on redistributing medals, but noted there was an eight-year statute of limitations.
The Sydney Games finished on Oct. 1, 2000.
Davies said the Jones' relay case differed from that of U.S. 400-metre runner Jerome Young, who was stripped of his gold medal in the 1,600-metre relay from Sydney because of a doping violation dating back to 1999.
He ran only in the preliminary of the relay.
The IOC had sought to strip the entire American men's team but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in 2005 that there were no rules in place at the time of the Sydney Games for a whole relay team to be disqualified for an offense by one member.
"Marion Jones ran in the finals and she was of her own admission doped during the Olympic Games,'' Davies said.
"Jerome Young was found to be doped before the Olympic Games and should never have competed in the first place.''
In December, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the committee had initiated the process for removing the U.S. relay medals, but would give the runners a hearing.
He said the athletes would be represented by the U.S. Olympic Committee, even though the American body has already said the relays were tainted and the medals should be returned.
Jamaica took silver behind the U.S. in the 1,600 relay and will move up to gold if the standings are adjusted. Russia was third and Nigeria fourth.
In the 400 relay, France was fourth behind the Americans.
After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted in federal court in October that she used the designer steroid "the clear'' from September 2000 to July 2001.
She began serving a six-month prison sentence last month for lying to investigators about doping and her role in a check fraud scam.
There is strong reluctance among IOC officials to award Jones' 100-metre gold to Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, who was at the center of a major scandal four years later in Athens.
She and fellow Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris failed to show for pre-games drug checks and were hospitalised after claiming they were injured in a motorcycle crash on the way to the tests.
Thanou and Kenteris missed the games and were later banned for two years.
One option under consideration by IOC officials is leaving the gold medal spot vacant.
On other doping matters, the IOC board adopted its anti-doping rules for the Beijing Games, covering the period from the opening of the Olympic village on July 27 to the closing ceremony on August 24.
Among new provisions, athletes will be considered guilty of a doping violation if they are found in possession of any prohibited substance, including marijuana.
Missing two doping tests during the games or one during that period and two in the previous 18 months will constitute a violation.
And athletes can be subjected to no-advance notice drug tests "at any time or place'' during the games.