Johnson Keeps Gold: Cas Over-ruled Iaaf

NORMALLY doping reportage and comment are frowned upon, but this CAS ruling is significant as it overturns the IAAF’s “contamination” rule and has some significant implications, not least for Michael Johnson who will now retain the last gold medal of his brilliant career. - kk

FIVE years after the Sydney Games, American Michael Johnson was told by a court in Switzerland today that he could keep the last of his five Olympic gold medals.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld an appeal by US athletics officials to end a lengthy battle over the gold medals won by Johnson’s squad in the 4x400 metres relay in 2000.

Athletics world ruling body, the IAAF, had recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the American squad be stripped of their medals because of a doping violation by squad member Jerome Young in 1999.

Today’s CAS decision means Johnson and four other members keep their gold medals from the event but the court recommended that Young should lose his.

The IAAF said it was extremely disappointed with the decision which it regretted but would accept as final and binding.

In today’s ruling, the court said IAAF rules in force at the time of the Sydney Olympics did not allow for a whole team to be disqualified because of the actions of one of its members.

``In conclusion, the (court’s) panel decided that on the basis of the IAAF rules applicable at the time of the Sydney Games, the results of the men’s 4x400m relay event at the Sydney Games should not be amended and that only Jerome Young in the US team should be stripped of his gold medal,’’ it said.

Lausanne-based CAS had ruled in 2004 that Young should not have been allowed to run in Sydney because of the 1999 positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, which carried a two-year ban at the time.

A secret hearing of a US appeals panel had decided to ignore the positive test and allow Young to run in Sydney.

Following CAS’s decision in 2004 the IAAF decided that the US result should be annulled and Nigeria, who finished second, given the relay gold medal.

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) disagreed that the entire team should be penalised and appealed to CAS, whose decisions are binding, to order the IOC and IAAF to ``to desist in their efforts to change the results’’.

The IOC, which has the final say over Olympic races, will discuss whether Young loses his medal next month, before the world athletics championships which start in Helsinki on August 6.

The court said today: ``The CAS Panel noted that the IAAF Rules in force at the time of the Sydney Games did not provide for the annulment of results obtained by a team, when a member of that team was found later to have been ineligible to compete at the time of the event.

``The arbitrators considered that the interpretation made by the IAAF of the rules in force in 2000 was not correct.’’

The US Olympic Committee welcomed the court’s decision.

``This case was about the proper application of rules by an international sports federation and the preservation of due process for athletes at the Olympic Games,’’ it said in a statement.