US Relay Team Stripped of Sydney Gold Medal
The US Men's 100 meter relay champions have been stripped of their gold medals from the Sydney Summer Games in 2000.
Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Hours after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced U.S. swimmer Jessica Hardy tested positive for clenbuterol at the U.S. Olympic trials, the red, white and blue were dealt an even bigger blow by the International Olympic Committee when the U.S. men's 1600-meter relay team were stripped of their gold medals won at the 2000 Olympics.
The IOC disqualified the entire team on Saturday, two months after Antonio Pettigrew admitted in open court that he took EPO and human growth hormone. He gave up his gold medal in June.
Pettigrew was a member of the four-man team that consisted of the renowned Michael Johnson, who will now be known as a four-time gold medal winner of the Sydney Games, and Alvin and Calvin Harrison.
Jerome Young and Angelo Taylor ran in the preliminaries and were also stripped of their medals.
This is just another black mark for the United States in track-and-field. The now infamous Marion Jones had three gold and two bronze medals taken from her possession after she admitted using performance enhancing drugs during her reign atop the world rankings.
While long overdue it puts another huge question mark in the credibility of the American Track and Field efforts from the last decades. The numbers of doping offences are now almost too large to count. It has been proven that at least 19 American medalists that had tested positive under the USOC testing were still allowed to compete at various Olympic Games.
Dr. Wade Exum's report that 19 American medallists were allowed to compete at various Olympic Games from 1988 to 2000 despite having earlier failed drug tests shocked some people in the sporting community but was no surprise to others.
For years, insiders had speculated that U.S. athletes were not immune to delving into doping to get ahead of the competition.
But how could this be? American athletes often spoke publicly against illegal drug use in sport, cursing the sports regimes of East Germany and China for systemic doping practices.
"There is no commitment to stopping the drug problem," said track and field star Carl Lewis in 2000. "People know the sport is dirty, the sport is so driven by records."
Little did Lewis know he would be named in Exum's report.
The five-time Olympic medallist was among the athletes named in more than 30,000 pages of documents released by former U.S. Olympic Committee anti-doping chief to Sports Illustrated and several newspapers in 2003. More than 100 athletes from several different sports tested positive for banned substances between 1988 and 2000 but were cleared by internal appeals processes.
According to Exum's evidence, Lewis was one of three eventual Olympic gold medallists who tested positive for banned stimulants in the months leading up to the 1988 Seoul Games.
Exum made the initial allegations about coverups in 2000, which led several sporting organizations – among them, the IOC, IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency – to pressure the USOC to re-examine how they conducted drug testing.
Soon, the USOC turned over drug testing responsibilities to the newly founded U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Don't worry, the USOC assured, this type of cover-up will never happen again.
So far, it hasn't. (Well, aside from track and field's Jerome Young being allowed to compete – and win a gold medal – at the 2000 Sydney Olympics despite testing positive for steroids in 1999.)
These coverups still beg the question: How could a country's own Olympic federation turn their backs on the oath of fair play and allow drug cheats to compete for a decade's worth of Olympic Games?