IOC strips Marion Jones of 5 Sydney Olympic medals for doping
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Don’t look for Marion Jones’ name in the Olympic record books any more. As far as the IOC is concerned, her five-medal performance at the 2000 Sydney Games never happened.Jones was erased from the Olympic records Wednesday when the IOC formally stripped her of her three gold and two bronze medals. Once the world’s biggest track and field star, Jones is now just a disgraced drug cheat.”She is disqualified and scrapped from the results,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the close of a three-day executive board meeting.The International Olympic Committee also banned Jones from attending next year’s Beijing Olympics in any capacity and said it could bar her from future games.The IOC postponed a decision on redistributing her medals, including whether to strip her eight American relay teammates and whether to upgrade doping-tainted Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou to gold in the 100.Jones won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay in Sydney, and bronze in the long jump and 100-meter relay. She was the first female track and field athlete to win five medals at a single Olympics.In addition to stripping her Sydney medals, the IOC disqualified Jones from her fifth-place finish in the long jump at the 2004 Athens Olympics.Jones had already handed back her medals. The IOC said it would now ask the U.S. Olympic Committee to get Jones to return the diplomas she received for competing in Sydney and Athens.Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations erased all of Jones’ results dating to September 2000, but it was up to the IOC to formally disqualify her and revoke her Olympic medals.”The issue has been damaging for Miss Jones, that goes without saying,” Rogge said. “I still think that this is a good thing for the fight against doping. The more athletes we can catch, the more credible we are, the more deterrent effect we will have and the more we are going to protect clean athletes.”After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted in federal court in October that she started using steroids before the Sydney Games. She said she’d used the designer steroid “the clear” from September 2000 to July 2001.”We fully support the action taken today by the IOC,” U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “This decision underscores the commitment we share to protect the integrity and fairness of sport.”It also illustrates the fact that cheating carries with it some very serious consequences, one of which is you forfeit the right to be called an Olympic champion.”Rogge said the IOC had initiated the process for removing the American relay teams’ medals, but would give the runners a chance to state their case at a hearing. He said the athletes would be represented by the USOC, even though the body has already said the relays were tainted and the medals should be returned.”We cannot disqualify the two relay teams without offering to the USOC a proper hearing,” Rogge said. “It’s up to the USOC to decide what to do about that. But we have to follow the procedures.”Rogge said he expects the relay medal issue to be resolved at the next executive board meeting in Beijing in April.”Should the IOC decide to disqualify the teams, it would be a consequence of the doping offense of Miss Jones and not the consequence of any faults committed by other members,” he said.The U.S. 1,600-relay team included Jearl-Miles Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander-Richardson and Andrea Anderson. Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson were on the 400-relay squad.The IOC executive board also declared Jones ineligible for the Beijing Games “not only as an athlete but also in any other capacity.”Jones has retired as an athlete and is banned by U.S. officials from competition for two years. But the IOC wants to keep her from going to the Olympics as a coach, official, media member or in any other role.The IOC said it reserves the right to take further sanctions against Jones, including a lifetime Olympic ban, pending the outcome of the BALCO investigation.IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who heads the three-man disciplinary panel in the Jones case, said he would like her to come forward and provide any information she has on other Olympic athletes or coaches who were involved in BALCO.”The case is still open,” Bach said. “We are offering Miss Jones to give her comments to us. We are encouraging her to do so.”Jones’ doping admission came as part of her guilty plea to lying to federal investigators in the BALCO case about using steroids. She will be sentenced on Jan. 11 and is expected to face a term of between three and six months.Jones becomes the fourth American athlete in Olympic history to have a medal taken away by the IOC, and the third for a doping offense.Jerome Young was stripped of his 1,600-meter relay gold from the Sydney Games for an earlier doping violation; swimmer Rick DeMont lost his gold in the 400-meter freestyle from the 1972 Munich Games after testing positive for a banned substance in his asthma medication, and Jim Thorpe was stripped of his pentathlon and decathlon gold medals in 1912 when it was revealed he earned $25 a week playing minor league baseball. The IOC reinstated Thorpe in 1982 and returned his medals to his children the following year.The reshuffling of Jones’ medals could affect the medal status of more than three dozen other athletes.IOC officials said they need more details from the ongoing BALCO probe to determine whether any other Olympic athletes were linked to the scandal.There is reluctance among some IOC officials to upgrade Thanou, who finished second behind Jones in the 100. Thanou later served a two-year ban after failing to show for drug tests in the leadup to the 2004 Athens Olympics.One option under consideration is leaving the gold medal spot vacant.The bronze medalist in the 100 in Sydney was Tanya Lawrence, with fellow Jamaican Merlene Ottey fourth.In the 200, Pauline Davis-Thompson of the Bahamas took the silver behind Jones. Sri Lanka’s Susanthika Jayasinghe was third and Jamaica’s Beverly McDonald fourth.
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