Cyclist keeping gold but could still be banned

Updated: September 28, 2004, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- The Russian Cycling Federation criticized the IOC's decision to drop its doping probe of gold medalist Tyler Hamilton, who edged a Russian rider in the time trial at the Athens Games.

An initial test led to suspicions Hamilton had used a blood transfusion to boost his endurance. But the International Olympic Committee abandoned its probe last week because the American's backup specimen mistakenly was frozen and there weren't enough red blood cells left to analyze.

Hamilton still faces a possible two-year ban over a separate positive blood test at the Spanish Vuelta two weeks after the Olympics. His Phonak team said both blood samples he provided there came back positive.

Hamilton insists he is innocent and has vowed to clear his name. But Russian federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov told the Sport Express newspaper that the blood test results at the Olympics and the Spanish race point to wrongdoing by Hamilton.

If Hamilton had been stripped of the Olympic gold medal, it would have gone to Viatcheslav Ekimov. Hamilton will keep his medal because an athlete is considered guilty of doping only when both samples come back positive.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press