Young first sprinter to test positive for EPO
DENVER -- Sprinter Jerome Young, a central figure in a doping case that could cost the U.S. relay team its gold medal from Sydney, was banned for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday following his second positive test for a banned drug.
Young tested positive for EPO at a Paris meet in July, USADA said. He is believed to be the first sprinter to test positive for EPO, which is popular with endurance runners and cyclists.
Tests for EPO were introduced at the 2000 Sydney Games. Sprinter Kelli White admitted she used EPO and other performance-enhancing drugs earlier this year when she accepted a two-year ban for doping.
Young, 28, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, but was exonerated by a U.S. appeals panel in July 2000, avoiding a two-year ban. He ran in the opening and semifinal rounds of the 2000 Games, but not in the 1,600-meter final anchored by Michael Johnson.
All six members of the relay squad received gold medals, but Young's was stripped.
Other members of the team include 30-year-old Alvin Harrison, who accepted a four-year suspension in October for drug violations uncovered in the BALCO case. Harrison's twin and Sydney teammate, Calvin Harrison, is serving a two-year suspension for testing positive for drugs linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
The Harrison cases and the latest involving Young all came after the Sydney games. But track's world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has recommended declaring the entire Sydney relay team ineligible because of Young.
Last month, the U.S. Olympic Committee challenged the recommendation in a petition lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Young, who has denied ever using a prohibited substance, was not covered by the appeal.
"As a matter of course, we don't comment on specific individual drug cases," said Jill Geer, spokeswoman for USA Track & Field. "It's certainly tragic if Jerome or any other athlete made the decision to cheat."
Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the USOC in nearby Colorado Springs, said Young's suspension should not affect the case pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"We have complete confidence in the fairness of CAS proceedings and do not believe that the decision announced today will have any bearing on that proceeding."
The CAS has not set a date for a hearing, he said.
Jennifer Coffman of the American Arbitration Association in New York deferred all comment for CAS to Swiss officials. New York attorney Stephen Chien, who represented Young in the steroid case, was traveling and did not immediately return a call. It was unclear whether he still represents Young.
If the International Olympic Committee follows the IAAF's recommendation, Nigeria would be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze in the Sydney relay.
The last American to have an Olympic gold medal taken away for a similar offense was swimmer Rick DeMont in 1972. DeMont, then 16, finished first in the 400 freestyle. He tested positive for a banned substance in his asthma medication.
Jim Thorpe was stripped of his medals in 1912, when it was revealed he earned $25 a week playing minor league baseball. The IOC lifted the ban on Thorpe in 1982 and returned his gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon to his children.
Young has an unlisted telephone number in Fort Worth, Texas. Former coach and agent Raymond Stewart said he has not been in touch with Young.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press