Wednesday, December 12, 2007
MARION JONES STRIPPED OF MEDALS, BANNED FROM BEIJING OLYMPICS
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The IOC formally stripped Marion Jones of her five Olympic medals Wednesday, wiping her name from the record books following her admission that she was a drug cheat.
The International Olympic Committee also banned the disgraced American athlete from attending next year's Beijing Olympics in any capacity and said it could bar her from future games.
Jones had already handed back the three gold medals and two bronze she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
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 take away her Olympic medals.
"She is disqualified and scrapped from the results,'' IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the close of a three-day executive board meeting.
"It was an easy decision,'' added IOC vice president Thomas Bach, a German lawyer who headed a three-member disciplinary panel in the case. "The facts were clear.''
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rogge said the IOC had initiated the process for removing the 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 U.S. Olympic Committee, even though the body has already said the relays were tainted and the medals should be returned.
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,'' Rogge 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.
Jamaica took silver behind the United States in the 1,600 relay. Russia was third and Nigeria fourth. In the 400 relay, France was fourth behind the Americans.
The 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 or in any other role, and said she could face a lifetime Olympic ban pending the outcome of the BALCO investigation.
"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.''
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.