U.S. relay team appeals to top court

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Seven U.S. sprinters have brought an appeal to the sports world's highest court, seeking to regain the Olympic relay medals stripped from them because of doping by Marion Jones.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard lawyers for the women on Monday challenge the International Olympic Committee's decision to strip the U.S. relay medals from the 2000 Sydney Games. The move came after Jones admitted using performance-enhancing drugs at the time.

Mark Levinstein, the Washington, D.C.-based lead attorney for the athletes, declined to comment upon arriving for the hearing, which is scheduled to take place over two days.

The Olympic legal team, led by former IOC director general Francois Carrard, also did not comment about the case.

A ruling on the appeal is not expected for several weeks -- approaching 10 years after the medal races in question.

In Sydney, Jones helped Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander Clark and Andrea Anderson win gold in the 4x400 relay.

Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson were with Jones on the 4x100 bronze medal squad. All but Perry are part of the appeal to CAS, though none attended Monday.

The seven believe they should escape punishment for cheating by Jones, who was also stripped in 2007 of her gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters and bronze in the long jump.

The case is expected to sway on the weight of legal precedent offered by a previous doping case involving U.S. relay runners at the Sydney Olympics.

A CAS ruling five years ago determined that teammates of Jerome Young should not lose their 4x400 gold medals after he was served a retroactive ban from 1999-2001 -- meaning he was technically ineligible for the Games.

Young's relay partners -- Michael Johnson, Antonio Pettigrew, Angelo Taylor, Alvin Harrison and Calvin Harrison -- won their appeal to CAS after the International Association of Athletics Federations annulled their result.

CAS said then that IAAF rules in 2000 did not allow a team to be disqualified for one member's doping. The rule was later amended, while Pettigrew handed back his medal in 2008 after he admitted using banned drugs before and after the Sydney Games.

A difference between the Young case and the appeal by Jones' teammates is that Young did not run in the 4x400 final at Sydney, while Jones was part of the quartets that clinched the medals.

The seven women lost a preliminary judgment last December. CAS ruled then that the IOC had the right to disqualify them, even though the decision came seven years after the Sydney Olympics. The athletes had cited an IOC rule that no Olympic decision could be challenged more than three years after the closing ceremony.

If the U.S. women lose their appeal, the IOC would then have to decide if it should reallocate the medals.

Jamaica took silver behind the U.S. in the 4x400 relay and will move up to gold if the standings are adjusted. Russia would move from bronze to silver and Nigeria from fourth to third.

In the 4x100, France stands to be upgraded from fourth to bronze.