GENEVA — American sprinters
who were stripped of their 2000 Olympics relay medals because teammate
Marion Jones was doping won an appeal Friday to have them restored.
The Court of Arbitration for
Sport ruled in favor of the women, who had appealed the International
Olympic Committee's decision to disqualify them from the Sydney Games.
The court said the IOC and
International Association of Athletics Federations rules in 2000 did not
allow entire teams to be disqualified because of doping by one athlete.
The IOC said the ruling was
"disappointing and especially unfortunate for the athletes of the other
teams who competed according to the rules."
In Sydney, Jearl Miles-Clark,
Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander Clark and Andrea Anderson were part
of the squad that won gold in the 4×400 relay. Chryste Gaines, Torri
Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson were on the 4×100 bronze
All but Perry joined the appeal.
"The panel found that at the time
of the Sydney Olympic Games there was no express IOC or IAAF rule in
force that clearly allowed the IOC to annul the relay team results if
one team member was found to have committed a doping offense," CAS said.
Now that the case is over,
Richardson can relax, her medal safe and secure in a wooden frame at the
home of her parents in Florida.
"It's been a long three years, a
long hard fight," Richardson told The Associated Press in a phone
interview. "I wanted to believe they would do what was right, but there
were some times where I wasn't as certain. Today, they did what was
Richardson spoke to Gaines and
Miles-Clark and said that "everyone is extremely excited."
"Finally, the fight is over,"
In 2007, Jones admitted she was
doping in Sydney and also lost her individual golds in the 100 and 200
meters and bronze in the long jump. She spent about six months in a
Texas prison in 2008 for lying about using performance-enhancing drugs
and her role in a check-fraud scam.
She has since made a comeback in
basketball with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA.
"I've totally moved on," Jones
told The AP on Friday in San Antonio, where the Shock were preparing to
play the Silver Stars. "I'm moving forward."
Jones said she had not heard
about the CAS decision and had not spoken to her former Olympic
teammates recently. She declined further comment.
"She made some very poor
choices. That's something she has to live with," said Richardson, who no
longer has any ill will toward her former teammate. "We did what we
were supposed to do and did it with fairness. You have to learn to
forgive and forget."
The CAS panel of three lawyers
acknowledged the ruling might be unfair to relay teams that competed
"with no doped athletes" but added the decision "exclusively depends on
the rules enacted or not enacted by the IOC and the IAAF at the time of
the Sydney Olympic Games."
The CAS inflicted a further
defeat on the IOC by ordering the Olympic body to pay 10,000 Swiss
francs ($9,500) toward the athletes' legal costs.
Mark Levinstein, the Washington,
DC-based lead attorney for the athletes, said there is still a lawsuit
pending against the USOC.
"All they had to do was say,
'The rules are the rules, leave them alone,' and this didn't happen,"
Levinstein said in a phone interview. "To have your own national Olympic
committee turn its back on you, it was sad."
The USOC issued a statement
saying it respects the decision of the CAS.
"Although we continue to believe
that the U.S. medals in the 4×100 and 4×400 meter women's relays were
unfairly won due to Ms. Jones' doping, we have always recognized that
the athletes who made up the U.S. teams might have a legal basis on
which to defend these medals," said Patrick Sandusky, chief
communications officer for the USOC.
"We are sorry that Ms. Jones'
actions continue to have a negative effect on the world of sport and
express our sympathy for all of the athletes who competed cleanly at the
Olympic Games in Sydney and were damaged by Ms. Jones' poor decisions."
United States Track and Field
president Stephanie Hightower and CEO Doug Logan said in a joint
statement, "Although USATF was not a party to this case, we are
sympathetic to any clean athlete who was robbed of something because of
Marion Jones' cheating: competitors, teammates, fans and anyone who
strives for fair competition."
The IOC has now lost two CAS
rulings within five weeks involving Olympic medals stripped.
"What better confirmation of
independence can you have than the baby you have created says no to
you?" IOC president Jacques Rogge told The AP in New York. "We're
disappointed that we lose the case, of course. But it strengthens us to
say to the athletes, 'You can trust the Court of Arbitration. They are
independent. They are free. They can rule against the IOC.'"
Belarus hammer throwers Vadim
Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan won their appeals last month against
disqualification from the 2008 Beijing Games and regained their silver
and bronze medals, respectively. Both had elevated levels of
testosterone, but the CAS panel said tests were invalid because
international laboratory standards in Beijing were not respected.
"The IOC will continue to
enforce its zero tolerance policy in the fight against doping for the
sake of the athletes' health and to ensure fair competition," the IOC
said in a statement.
The CAS panel said it accepted
the IOC's claim that Jones was possibly not the only U.S. runner doping
in Sydney, and it was mindful that Gaines later served a doping ban for
cheating in 2002-03 with the same designer steroid — known as "the
clear" — that Jones used.
CAS, however, warned that judging
an athlete based on suspicion could "deliver a fatal blow to any
serious fight against doping and the CAS's reputation."
The case involving the sprinters
was heard over two days in Lausanne, Switzerland, in May, when the
relay runners' legal team argued they should not be punished for
cheating by Jones.
The panel agreed unanimously
Friday that the IAAF's rule in 2000 was the decisive point.
The court also confirmed its own
precedent set five years ago in a previous doping case involving U.S.
relay runners at the Sydney Olympics. That panel determined that
teammates of Jerome Young should not lose their 4×400 gold medals after
he received a retroactive ban from 1999-2001 — meaning he was
technically ineligible to compete in Sydney.
Young's relay partners — Michael
Johnson, Antonio Pettigrew, Angelo Taylor, Alvin Harrison and Calvin
Harrison — won their appeal to CAS after the IAAF annulled their result.
The IOC, however, ended up
stripping the entire team of the medals in 2008 following the admission
of doping by Pettigrew. The IAAF amended its rules in 2003 so that relay
teams could then be disqualified if one member was caught doping.
The ruling Friday dashed the
hopes of Jamaica's team of being upgraded from silver to gold in the
4×400 relay. Russia finished third and Nigeria out of the medals in
fourth. In the 4×100, the U.S. edged France out of the medals.