USOC fights to keep gold for Johnson, teammates

USOC fights to keep gold for Johnson, teammates

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Associated Press

LONDON - The U.S. Olympic Committee is contesting an international ruling which could cost Michael Johnson and the rest of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team their gold medals from the Sydney Olympics.

The USOC has filed an appeal to sports' highest court challenging a recommendation by track and field's world governing body to disqualify the entire squad for a doping scandal involving team member Jerome Young.

The petition was lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, by the USOC and five team members - Johnson, twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew and Jerome Taylor.

Young is not covered by the appeal.

"They think only Jerome Young should be stripped of the gold medal and not the rest of the team," CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The appeal is directed against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee. A hearing date hasn't been set.

Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999, but was exonerated by a U.S. appeals panel in July 2000, avoiding a two-year ban.

He ran in the opening and semifinal rounds of the 2000 Olympics 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. All six members of the relay squad received gold medals.

USA Track & Field never gave the IAAF specifics about the Young case, citing confidentiality rules in place at the time. Young's name became public only last year.

The IAAF ruled in July that the entire team should lose the medals because Jones should have been ineligible to compete.

Stripping of the medals is up to the IOC, which put off a decision in August pending resolution of all appeals.

"If CAS upholds the decision of the IAAF, then of course the medals will be removed," IOC president Jacques Rogge told the AP.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the federation had no immediate comment.

"We definitely want to protect the medals for the rest of the relay team," USOC chief executive Jim Scherr said.

during the Athens Olympics. "Jerome ran in a preliminary, the contest was not decided in that preliminary race. We think they earned those medals in the final."

If the U.S. team loses its case, Nigeria will be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas to bronze.

Young, the world 400-meter champion in 2003, tested positive for the endurance-boosting drug EPO in July at a meet in Paris. He faces a possible lifetime ban if found guilty of the second doping offense. That case is being handled by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Both Harrison brothers have also been involved in doping cases.

On Tuesday, two-time Olympic gold medalist Alvin Harrison accepted a four-year suspension from the USADA for drug violations uncovered in the BALCO case.

Calvin Harrison drew a two-year suspension after a positive test last year for modafinil, his second doping offense.

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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