Tyree gets gold at last

Tyree Washington to get his gold deserts at last

• The 2003 world 400m medal catches up with its rightful winner
• Jerome Young long stripped of gold for positive drugs test

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 21 June 2009 22.33

Tyree Washington is finally going to receive the 2003 world championship 400 metres gold medal.

According to the retired American sprinter, USA Track & Field will present Washington with the newly cast medal at this week’s US championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Athletics officials confirmed he would be recognised and an announcement will be made tomorrow, a USATF spokeswoman said.

Washington, now 32, said he had mixed emotions about the presentation, which is scheduled for Saturday after the men’s 400 metres final.

“Getting the medal will be part of my peace but it is not going to be all of my peace,” said the Californian, who began pursuing the gold after the 2003 winner, Jerome Young, admitted in 2008 to using prohibited substances and agreed to return the medal.

“I have been treated poorly,” said Washington, the 2003 runner-up. “The IAAF gave Jerome Young a lifetime ban [for a positive dope test in 2004] … so they knew I was going to be the world champion yet they held on to that [the gold].”

Young received a lifetime ban after testing positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO), his second doping offence, but he was not stripped of all results subsequent to 1999, the year of his first doping offence, until 2008.

Washington, though, has been recognised in International Association of Athletics Federations publications as the 2003 outdoor champion since 2005.

“I was their role model,” said Washington, the 2003 world indoor champion. “But when I wanted to get help [in procuring the medal] from my federation, USATF, and the IAAF, they turned their backs.”

Many thought the headband-wearing Washington would be the world-record holder Michael Johnson’s successor before injuries slowed his career. He retired in 2008.

Washington said he was upset that the presentation would be in the US and not at the IAAF world championships in Berlin in August. “That is not where I won the world championship,” he said. “If they are going to give me my medal …why isn’t the IAAF sending me to Berlin?”

Washington also said he was owed the $30,000 first-prize money from the 2003 championships, adding he had proof Young was not paid.

The IAAF spokesman, Nick Davies, disagreed. “The IAAF has different information – namely that Jerome Young was indeed paid and has not repaid us,” he said.

“We are delighted for Tyree Washington and it shows that, however long the delay, the rightful champion can now be honoured properly,” Davies said, adding that the IAAF preferred to promote the success of a clean athlete in his own country rather “than to promote the consequences of doping on a world stage in front of billions of TV viewers”.