LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Michael Johnson and the rest of the United States' 1,600-meter relay team can keep their gold medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Thursday.
The United States Olympic Committee had filed an appeal to the CAS challenging a recommendation by the IAAF to disqualify the entire squad for a doping scandal involving team member Jerome Young.
"The results of the men's 4x400-meter relay event at the Sydney
Games should not be amended and that only Jerome Young in the U.S.
team should be stripped of his gold medal," the CAS said in a
The petition was lodged with the Lausanne-based court by the
USOC and five team members: Johnson, twins Alvin and Calvin
Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Jerome Taylor.
Young is not covered by the USOC appeal. The five believed only
Young should be stripped of the gold medal and not the rest of the
"I never thought it should have been an issue, so I'm pleased with the outcome,'' Johnson told the Dallas Morning News. "I never felt it was fair to any of us that because of a
process, or lack thereof, all of a sudden our medals were in jeopardy".
Young ran in the opening and semifinal rounds in Sydney, but not
in the final. Johnson ran the anchor leg in the final for the fifth
and last Olympic gold medal of his career. Pettigrew and the
Harrisons also ran in the final. Taylor ran in the earlier heats.
Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, but
was exonerated by a U.S. appeals panel in July 2000, avoiding a
USA Track & Field never gave the sport's world governing body
specifics about the case, citing confidentiality rules in place at
the time. Young's identity only became public in 2003.
The International Association of Athletics Federations ruled
that the entire team should forfeit the victory because Young
should have been ineligible to compete.
The arbitration court ruled Thursday that the IAAF's rules in
place at the time of the Sydney Games did not call for an entire
team to be disqualified. The panel noted that the IAAF's current
rules do call for an entire relay team to be disqualified in a
"The IAAF is extremely disappointed with this decision," IAAF
spokesman Nick Davies said. "Last July our council, in the best
interest of our sport, decided that the results of the 4x400-meter
final in Sydney should be changed because the USA fielded an
ineligible athlete in the early rounds.
"This athlete, Jerome Young, was later suspended for life for a
second serious doping offense. CAS, however, has decided that the
council was wrong. We regret this but we accept also that CAS
decisions are final and binding."
Had the court rejected the USOC appeal, the International
Olympic Committee would have been in position to upgrade Nigeria to
the gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze. Thursday's
ruling means there will be no change in the medals.
Young, the 2003 world champion in the 400 meters, was banned for
life last year by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency following a second
doping offense. He tested positive for EPO at a Paris meet in July
2004. He is believed to be the first sprinter to test positive for
EPO, popular with endurance runners and cyclists.
Last October, Alvin Harrison was suspended for four years for
doping violations uncovered in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative
investigation. Calvin Harrison is serving a two-year suspension for
testing positive for drugs linked to BALCO.
It's now up to the IOC executive board to formally strip Young
of the medal. The board's next full meeting is in October.
IOC president Jacques Rogge has repeatedly pressed for full
disclosure in the case, and the committee was prepared to take all
the medals away.
"We have to respect today's decision," IOC spokeswoman Giselle
Davies said. "We can now finish the formalities as regards Jerome
The USOC welcomed the ruling.
"To view the issues that were addressed in this case as being
related to the unacceptable practice of doping would be
incorrect," the USOC said in a statement. "This case was about
the proper application of rules by an international sports
federation and the preservation of due process for athletes at the
The reaction was the same from the sport's American governing
body, which said the ruling "hinged on the application of rules
and due process.
"Now that a decision has been rendered, the sport can continue
to move forward in a positive direction," USA Track & Field said.