IOC delays ruling on whether team will be stripped

Updated: August 7, 2004, 12:18 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The International Olympic Committee delayed ruling Saturday on whether to strip the entire U.S. 1,600-meter relay team of gold medals from the Sydney Games, saying it will wait until all appeals have been completed.

The team, which included Michael Johnson, could lose its medals because of a doping violation by teammate Jerome Young a year before the 2000 Olympics. Young has already been stripped.

The International Association of Athletics Federations recommended last month that the entire team be penalized because Young should have been ineligible. The IAAF allowed 60 days for appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The deadline is Sept. 18.

The U.S. Olympic Committee hasn't appealed, and it was unclear whether any of the runners -- Johnson, twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Angelo Taylor -- had done so on their own.

USA Track & Field will contact the athletes about how to proceed, the organization said Saturday in a statement.

The IAAF had hoped for action.

"We believed they would not wait and would support the decision of the international federation," IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai told The Associated Press. "We were led to believe they would. We thought it would be a good signal to the world that the entire sports leadership has the same opinion. This is hesitating a little bit, so it's not a good message."

The relay case was brought before the IOC executive board Saturday, but action was put off until a later meeting.

"The IOC will have to wait until the IAAF decision is final and enforceable before it makes its decision," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said at a news conference.

Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, but was exonerated in July 2000 by a U.S. appeals panel. USATF never gave the IAAF specifics about the case.

USATF officials said confidentiality rules blocked them from releasing information about the Young case until his name became public last year. Some IAAF officials accused the USATF of covering up the case.

Young ran in the opening and semifinal rounds of the relay, but not in the final. Johnson ran the anchor leg in the final for the fifth and final Olympic gold medal of his career.

If the U.S. team loses its case, Nigeria will be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze.

Young won the 400-meter world championship last year, but he failed to qualify for the Athens Olympics at the U.S. trials last month.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press