Pittman tears cartilage in right knee

Updated: August 8, 2004, 8:51 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Australian Olympic Committee refused to rule 400-meter hurdles world champion Jana Pittman out of the Olympics even though she said her season was over due to an injured knee.

"We are told that there is still hope in respect of her participation in the games, but she is under sedation," Peter Montgomery, vice president of the Australian Olympic Committee, told reporters on Sunday.

He said Pittman had undergone arthroscopic surgery on her right knee in a London hospital.

The 21-year-old is Australia's best hope for Olympic gold in athletics. She damaged cartilage in her knee while doing hurdles drills in a warmup exercise before a Golden League meet in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday.

Before Sunday's operation she said she didn't expect to compete at the Summer Games.

" ... We've made the decision that I won't run at the Olympics," Pittman told Australia's Channel Seven. "We're getting a second opinion in London, but that's the prognosis at this stage."

Pittman said she opted against having doctors remove the torn cartilage in her knee because it only gave her a 5 percent chance of competing in the games and put the rest of her career at risk.

Pittman is being treated by Chris Bradshaw, team doctor for the London soccer club Fulham. He was on the medical staff for the Australian athletics team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"I am certain that we will give her the absolute maximum opportunity to be able to compete. As far as I am aware, there is no one standing by who would take her position in the event," Montgomery said.

Heats for the 400-meter hurdles begin on Aug. 21. Australian team officials must submit the names of competitors two days before that.

"It doesn't seem fair," Pittman said. "I didn't do anything wrong. It wasn't like I was playing basketball or something stupid, I was just warming up Zurich Golden League."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press