Erin Mirabella got her Olympic medal after some controversy, and may lose it in the same fashion.
The American cyclist, who learned at the closing ceremonies of
last summer's Athens Games that she was placed third in the women's
track points race following the disqualification of a Colombian
competitor, is apparently about to have that bronze medal taken
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland,
ruled Thursday that the Colombian cyclist, Maria Luisa Calle,
should be restored as the bronze winner because she did not take
the banned stimulant she tested positive for in Athens.
Mirabella and American cycling officials sounded baffled and
stunned by the news.
"Nobody has told me anything," Mirabella told The AP in a
telephone interview from her California home. "I've seen the
articles that are out there. I've heard nothing from USA Cycling,
the International Olympic Committee, nobody. Nobody has contacted
me and I don't know what is happening."
Calle's third-place finish made her the first Colombian to win
an Olympic cycling medal. Days later, the IOC disqualified her for
taking the prohibited stimulant heptaminol, found in a post-race
Calle denied taking the stimulant, insisting she took an
anti-migraine pill called Neo-Saldina hours before the race. She
blamed that drug, prescribed by a team doctor, for the heptaminol
"I'm nervous and very happy that I will finally receive the
medal that I fought so hard to win in the Olympics," the
36-year-old Calle said in her hometown of Medellin.
CAS said Neo-Saldina contains isometheptene, a substance which
transforms into heptaminol during laboratory analyses.
Isometheptene was not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for
the Athens Games.
"We respect the CAS decision," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies
said. "The IOC had acted at the time based on advice from WADA
that the substance [heptaminol] was prohibited."
The issue will be discussed at next week's IOC executive board
meeting in Lausanne. The board is expected to ratify the CAS
decision and restore Calle's medal.
In September 2004, USA Cycling officials surprised Mirabella
with the medal while she vacationed with her husband in
Breckenridge, Colo. The formal presentation came at the national
track championships in Texas later that month.
It remained in her possession Thursday, and in a letter to
readers of her Web site last year when she detailed the controversy
surrounding the disqualification debacle, she said "No one can
take that away from me."
USA Cycling spokesman Andy Lee said the nation's governing body
had not been formally told that Mirabella must forfeit the medal. A
call placed the U.S. Olympic Committee's offices was not
"Right now, I think I want to get the facts," Mirabella said.
"I don't want to say too much until we get more information. I
need to get some real information."
If Mirabella eventually loses the medal, it will mean the United
States won only three in Athens, matching what the American bike
contingent did in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney four years later.
Mirabella's was the only U.S. medal from a track race; the
others were claimed by Tyler Hamilton (gold), Dede Barry (silver),
and Bobby Julich (bronze) in the road race time trials.