<
>

Entire relay team may lose gold medals

U.S. sprinter Jerome Young should be stripped of his Sydney
Olympics relay gold for flunking a steroid test in 1999, the
world's top sports court ruled Tuesday in a case that pitted U.S.
track officials against their international counterparts.

Now, world sports officials must decide whether Young's relay
teammates -- including Michael Johnson -- also should forfeit their
medals.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, which found Young guilty of
doping, was not asked to rule on his relay teammates. But the panel
said it "does not necessarily accept that, in the unusual
circumstances of the present case, this consequence must follow."

Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999 and was
suspended from competition. He was exonerated -- avoiding a two-year
ban -- when a USA Track & Field appeals panel ruled that a clean
test taken six days after the positive test raised a "reasonable
doubt."

Young, the reigning 400-meter world champion, reiterated Tuesday
that he has "never taken a prohibited substance."

"I am disappointed with the decision," Young said in a
statement released by his attorney, Stephen Chien. "I believe that
today's CAS decision is fundamentally unfair -- I was exonerated in
2000 by a panel of three independent and objective arbitrators who
considered the evidence before it and concluded that USA Track &
Field failed to prove its case against me."

Chien said he could not comment on whether Young plans to
compete in the 400 at the U.S. Olympic trials in Sacramento,
Calif., that begin next weekend.

Track and field's world governing body is expected to follow the
court's ruling and recommend to the International Olympic Committee
that Young's medal be stripped.

After years of refusing to provide details on the case to
international sports officials, USATF officials acknowledged for
the first time in February that Young had tested positive in 1999
and agreed to hand over key documents.

USATF officials said confidentiality rules blocked them from
releasing the information before this year. But some international
sports officials accused the USATF of protecting drug cheats.

The case also led to tensions between the USATF and the U.S.
Olympic Committee, which last fall threatened to begin
decertification proceedings against the track federation if it did
not provide world sports officials with documents pertaining to
Young.

The Young case highlights how things have changed in U.S. track
and field since the 2000 Sydney Games. The USATF has turned over
authority in drug matters to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which
aggressively is going after suspected dopers -- in some cases
without positive drug tests.

"Under the anti-doping program administered by the United
States Anti-Doping Agency now in place, a situation like this will
never arise again," USOC chief executive Jim Scherr said in a
statement.

The Swiss-based arbitration court, in a ruling that is final and
cannot be appealed, said Young should have been banned from June
26, 1999, until June 25, 2001 -- making him ineligible for the 2000
Olympics.

The International Association of Athletics now will decide
whether to recommend to the IOC that the entire 1,600-meter relay
team, including Johnson, be disqualified.

Young ran in the opening heat and semifinal round of the relay
in Sydney. It was the last of Johnson's 14 Olympic and world
championship gold medals. Other members of the team were twin
brothers Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Angelo
Taylor.

The Harrisons also are facing doping accusations.

Alvin Harrison is one of four athletes threatened with a
lifetime ban by USADA because of alleged steroid use. Calvin
Harrison faces a possible two-year ban because of two minor doping
violations.

The IAAF Council, whose next scheduled meeting is during the
Aug. 13-29 Athens Games, will recommend to the IOC whether to
disqualify the whole U.S. team. If the American squad is
disqualified, Nigeria would be awarded gold, Jamaica silver, and
the Bahamas bronze.

"The IAAF is extremely pleased that a case that began in 1999
can now finally be closed," IAAF president Lamine Diack said in a
statement. "Although the suspension is now retroactive, it is
important for the IAAF to demonstrate that doping offenses,
whenever they come to light, will be sanctioned according to our
rules."