Team can appeal if medals lost for Young's doping

Updated: July 8, 2004, 12:25 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- Michael Johnson can argue to keep his 2000 Olympic relay gold medal if track's governing body disqualifies the entire team for a doping offense by Jerome Young.

The International Association of Athletics Federations is considering whether Young and the rest of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay squad should be stripped of the gold from the Sydney Games.

IOC president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press that the athletes would be granted a hearing if the IAAF decides they should lose the medals.

"Our rules foresee the possibility for the athletes to be heard," Rogge said. "You cannot condemn someone without a hearing."

The International Olympic Committee executive board will have the final say on the medals.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled last month that Young should have been ineligible for the Sydney Olympics because of a positive test for the steroid nandrolone in 1999. The court said Young had been improperly cleared by a USA Track & Field appeals panel.

Young, the reigning 400-meter world champion, denies ever taking a banned substance.

The arbitration court was not asked to rule on whether Young's relay teammates should also be stripped of their medals. But the panel said it "does not necessarily accept that, in the unusual circumstances of the present case, this consequence must follow."

Young ran in the opening heat and semifinal round of the relay in Sydney. Johnson ran the anchor leg in the final for the fifth and last Olympic gold of his career. Other members of the team were twin brothers Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Angelo Taylor.

The Harrisons also are facing doping accusations.

If the United States is stripped of the victory, Nigeria would be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze.

The IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency set up a joint disciplinary commission on the Young case last year.

Rogge said the panel expects to receive the IAAF's verdict "very shortly." If the IAAF says Young was ineligible and should forfeit his medal, he will be invited to appear before the panel, Rogge said. If the IAAF finds all the runners should be disqualified, they also will be given a hearing.

"In both cases there will be a hearing," Rogge said. "I expect the IAAF to decide hopefully as soon as possible, advise us, and then everything can go very fast."

The panel will make recommendations to the IOC executive board, which meets in Athens, Greece, in early August before the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.

IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai expects the federation's executive council to make a ruling within two weeks.

"The IAAF has to say, yes, we recognize the result, or we don't recognize the result," he told the AP. "We will have to look very carefully at what the rules of the IAAF at that time said. Then it has to be interpreted."

Johnson, who still holds the world record in the 200 and 400 meters, said it would be unfair to take the medals away.

"The bottom line is that when Jerome Young made the Olympic team, he had been cleared to run by USATF," he told the Dallas Morning News last month. "No one else, not the IOC or the IAAF, cared to look into it. They accepted the USATF decision, and I assume because the USATF had the sole authority to make that decision."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press