Remember the picture of Michael Johnson, two time Olympic 400 meter champion, one time 200 meter champion, World record holder at 200 and 400 meters, finishing his career in Sydney, anchoring the 4 x 400 meters to a gold medal? Well, that medal is gone now.
In truth, MJ, a staunch critic of drugs in sports, sent his 4 x 400 meter gold back to the USOC months ago, after Antonio Pettigrew, one of his teammates, admitted using banned substances from 1997 to 2000 as part of the BALCO inquiry.
That admission meant that Pettigrew, both Alvin and Calvin Harrison, and Jerome Young, who either ran heats or finals in the 4 x 400 meters in Sydney, were admitted drug users or had been tested positive. Only Michael Johnson had not tested positive in the group. In a statement by MJ, he felt the medal was tainted and wanted no part of it.
This morning, in Beijing, on August 2, the IOC Executive board agreed......
At the final meetings of the IOC Executive board this morning the board stripped the US 4 x 400 meter team from Sydney of its gold medal and requested that " all medals and diplomas be returned to the USOC."
That means that Michael Johnson's medal haul from Atlanta and Syndey drops from five to four. It also means that Nigeria will more than likely-although the IOC Executive committee has not decided this as of yet, be the gold medalists at the 4 x 400 meters from Sydney.
This also comes within a day of Doug Logan, the USATF 's new CEO , suggesting that the US men's 4 x 400 meter record should be reconsidered. That came in observing that three of the members were convicted drug positives, with the admission of Pettigrew this past year. Logan has, in his first two weeks at the head of the largest track federation in the world, been quite outspoken on the issue of drugs in sports.
Runblogrun applauds the efforts of the IOC, and USATF in this regard. It is the message that needs to be out--drugs in sports will not be tolerated. My only wish is that WADA and USADA continue to develop testing and protocals that can pass the muster of peer reviews or the testing will mean little if it can not pass a legal challenge. And there will be legal challenges-that is part of our world and it is the legal right of the athlete to challenge the testing, as it should be.
Runblogrun commends Michael Johnson on his selfless act and hope that the message gets out to young athletes that the repercussions of cheating, the shame of being caught and admonished across the global press should be part of the reminder to athletes that most drug cheaters will be caught.
At the bottom of this update is the complete document from the IOC from this morning,
August 2, 2008:
INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
IOC EXECUTIVE BOARD DECISION
REGARDING THE UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (“USOC”)
the attached Recommendations of the IOC Disciplinary Commission
dated 2 August 2008, and pursuant to the provisions of the Olympic Charter and the relevant anti-doping rules,
THE IOC EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE DECIDES
I. The US relay team is disqualified from the following event in which it competed at the
2000 Sydney Olympic Games in the sport of athletics: 4 x 400 meters relay–men – US relay team, where the team placed first
II. The USOC is ordered to return to the IOC all medals and diplomas awarded to all
members of the USOC relay team in the above noted event, it being acknowledged that
USOC has already returned to the IOC the medals won by Mr Antonio Pettigrew and Mr
Michael Johnson in such event.
III. The International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) is requested to take the appropriate steps so that the relevant results reflect the above.
IV. The USOC shall be notified that the IOC reserves its rights to consider possible further sanctions against the relevant athletes, in particular permanent ineligibility for all future Olympic Games, in any capacity, pending the outcome of the Balco investigation.
V. The issue of reallocating medals and diplomas as a consequence of this decision shall be addressed by the IOC Executive Board in due course.
VI. This decision shall enter into force immediately. Beijing, 2 August 2008
For more information, please go to http://www.insidethegames.com/show-news.php?id=3025