USOC Pulls Rug on Track

USOC Pulls Rug on Track
Funding halted to sport’s federation in dispute over details in controversial drug case.

January 17, 2004

By Alan Abrahamson, Times Staff Writer

In a first step that could ultimately lead to the loss of certification for the U.S. governing body for track and field, the U.S. Olympic Committee has imposed financial and other sanctions because of USA Track & Field’s refusal to turn over files relating to a U.S. sprinter who tested positive for a banned steroid in 1999 but won gold at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.

The USOC has handed down a three-part series of sanctions, including the suspension of about $3 million that flows annually from the USOC to USATF. But the USOC emphasized that the steps are aimed at USATF and its administrators and not at U.S. athletes as they prepare for the Athens Summer Games, which begin Aug. 13.

For the USOC to consider such action against one of its own federations is highly unusual, especially a high-profile sport such as track and field at the onset of an Olympic year.

Bill Martin, the USOC’s acting president, said in a Dec. 19 letter to USATF Chief Executive Craig Masback and President Bill Roe that the USOC’s policy-making executive committee, “based on the handling of this matter by both of you … questions your appreciation and understanding of the damage your inaction continues to cause USATF, the USOC and the entire U.S. Olympic movement.”

Asked to respond, Roe declined. Masback could not be reached for comment.

The impasse has strained U.S. relations with the International Olympic Committee as well as other national Olympic committees and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

At stake now are the gold medals won at Sydney by the athlete who tested positive, Jerome Young, and five other Americans who ran in either the preliminaries or the final round of the 1,600-meter relay, among them Michael Johnson. The IOC has launched a “disciplinary” commission for the matter, which is on the agenda at the next IOC meeting in February in Athens. Young has said he never “committed a doping offense.” He could not be reached Friday for comment.

The most significant of the sanctions—the first in a lengthy build-up to the USOC’s ultimate weapon, decertification of USATF—involves an annual cash grant the USOC provides to the USATF, as it does to dozens of other national sports federations. The USOC provided $2.8 million in 2003. USATF’s annual budget runs to about $15 million.

Separately, the USOC provides direct funding to individual track and field athletes, as it does to athletes in a variety of Olympic sports. In 2003, it gave a total of $945,000 to track and field competitors.

The non-financial sanctions are largely symbolic. The USOC said no credentials will be issued to the Athens Games for “USATF headquarters personnel and officers, including but not limited to [Masback and Roe].” And it cut off any “access that may have already been granted” to USATF headquarters staff or USATF officers “for the Athens Games.”

The sanctions were announced “effective immediately” in the Dec. 19 letter. In practice, however, the USOC gave USATF additional time in hopes records and materials would be forthcoming. The appropriate documents have not been produced.

Roe said, meantime, that discussions remain ongoing between USOC and USATF staff about the practical imposition of the financial sanction. He said USATF had requested $3.2 million for 2004.

The Young matter has tested patience on all sides. It had long been known in Olympic circles that a U.S. athlete had tested positive before the Sydney Games but was cleared to compete. Yet the details remained closely guarded by U.S. track and field officials.

The Times on Aug. 27 identified the athlete as Young, the world’s current 400-meter champion. He tested positive for nandrolone on June 26, 1999, at the U.S. outdoor national championships. The USOC in September confirmed Young’s identity to the IOC.

USATF maintains it is bound by an arbitration ruling issued last year that backed its position on confidentiality in the Young case and a dozen others. Officials with entities such as the USOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency say the arbitration ruling is no longer binding in Young’s case because the identity of the athlete is no longer secret.

For a male athlete, the legal level for nandrolone is two nanograms per milliliter (two parts per billion.)

A review of documents related to the case indicates that only one sample from the USATF championships on June 26, 1999 came back positive for nandrolone, at levels at least 30 times greater than the legal limit, perhaps as high as 50 times greater. A definitive reading has not surfaced.

In the spring of 2000, a USATF hearing board decided that Young had committed a doping violation. If confirmed, a violation becomes a “doping offense.” Typically, a nandrolone offense draws a two-year ban ; that would have left Young ineligible for the Sydney Games.

However, in July 2000, just days before the Olympic trials, a divided USATF appeals board reversed the finding of the violation and cleared Young to compete.

The hearing and appeal were conducted in secret.

All that Athlete money! The pain!

“The USOC has handed down a three-part series of sanctions, including the suspension of about $3 million that flows annually from the USOC to USATF. But the USOC emphasized that the steps are aimed at USATF and its administrators and not at U.S. athletes as they prepare for the Athens Summer Games, which begin Aug. 13.”
(meanwhile all the USATF officials won’t suffer at all (unless some people are fired) and the athletes will lose out on $3 million)

List what the athletes got from the US besides uniforms and bus rides to the track?

Don’t aks me, it’s a comment on the webpage. But I think that the point that the USATF officials won’t suffer at all is valid.

Posted 1/18/2004 5:19 PM Updated 1/19/2004 9:16 AM

Source: USOC pressures USATF on Young case
By Dick Patrick, USA TODAY
DENVER — The U.S. Olympic Committee is ratcheting up its pressure on USA Track & Field in the Jerome Young controversy.
The latest move hits the track group in the pocketbook.

The USOC has suspended about $3 million in funding, which does not include nearly $1 million in funding to athletes, if the USATF does not release details of the case.

The measures, first reported in the Los Angeles Times, also include declining credentials to USATF officials to USOC training facilities and August’s Athens Olympics.

Young tested positive in 1999 for the steroid nandrolone but was exonerated by a USATF appeals panel before winning a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in the 4x400-meter relay. The USATF did not report his case, as required by the international track group.

The court of Arbitration for Sport ruled a year ago the USATF didn’t have to disclose the name, revealed in August by the Times. The International Olympic Committee says the decision is moot because the athlete’s name is public and wants specifics in the case.

The USATF has sent the IOC details of a drug case with the athlete’s name blanked out but has not confirmed the athlete is Young.

The USOC’s warning to the track body came in a Dec. 19 letter from USOC president Bill Martin to USATF president Bill Roe and executive director Craig Masback, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press.

USATF received $2.8 million from the USOC in 2003 and has asked for more than $3 million this year. Direct funding to athletes — $945,000 in 2003 — will not be interrupted under the threatened punishment.

USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer declined comment Sunday. USOC spokesman Daryl Seibel said his group is still working with USATF to settle the issue.

Young and the rest of the 4x400-meter relay team, including Michael Johnson, could be stripped of their medals if the IOC finds Young was improperly cleared.

In October, Masback and Roe were told by the USOC’s executive committee to address recent issues regarding drugs and athletes or face being stripped of its Olympic charter.

USATF sent a 23-page report in November, but USOC officials were not satisfied with the response to the Young case.

Contributing: The Associated Press

USATF letter to USOC

VIA E-MAIL Also sent via facsimile and Fedex (Tuesday delivery)

February 1, 2004

Bill Martin President United States Olympic Committee University of Michigan 1000 South State Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2202

Dear Bill:

We write in response to your letter of January 29 with the sincere hope and desire of resolving an issue of great importance to both our organizations and the Olympic Community. As we have stated many times in the past, we share your concern for the disruption and damage that this case has caused to our own organizations and others. We appreciate the scores of private conversations held between our two organizations concerning this topic dating back to 2000.

We realize that the USOC decision to reveal Jerome Young’s name to the IOC last fall was made with the utmost gravity. We are sure you understand that USA Track & Field has also approached the issue of confidentiality with great seriousness, has been concerned throughout that we do not signal to athletes that rules related to doping or any other important topic will be retroactively altered, and has also been concerned that we not expose our organization to the risk of substantial, uninsured liability.

We wish to assure you that we have worked vigorously since the October USOC Executive Committee meeting (and our own Board of Directors meeting that weekend) to achieve something the entire Olympic Community, including USATF, has desired – putting the Jerome Young case on a path to final resolution.

As we proposed to you in the USOC Executive Committee meeting – which you welcomed as one “possible solution” and which our Board specifically approved – we have played an active intermediary role between the USOC and the IAAF in helping both parties identify documents in their possession that would allow the IAAF to move forward and take the case to CAS arbitration (and to definitely resolve it). We now know from the IAAF itself, news reports, and the USOC, that the IAAF has concluded it has enough information, including the widely-circulated redacted appellate opinion, to identify the athlete and proceed against him. We never breached USATF confidentiality rules or the January 2003 CAS edict, but we engaged in a sometimes daily dialog with the IAAF and USOC as they shared and collected documents.

USATF Cooperation

In the December 5, 2003, report of your USOC Track & Field Panel and your December 19 letter to us, you informed us that – to the USOC and IOC – “the primary issue remains USATF’s refusal to either confirm that 1) the redacted exoneration opinion relates to the Jerome Young matter; or 2) to simply provide an unredacted copy of that opinion to the USOC or the IAAF.” Although we had hoped that IAAF action to initiate a new CAS arbitration to determine Mr. Young’s guilt or innocence would resolve the issues between us, your January 29 letter makes clear that disclosure of the appeals panel decision by USATF is the only acceptable means of cooperation, and the only way to avoid sanctions that will harm our sport. We respect that position.

In recognition of the fact that the USOC has stressed the need for demonstrable cooperation on the part of USATF, we hereby confirm that the name of the athlete in the redacted opinion is, in fact, Jerome Young, and will fax and Fedex the unredacted Doping Appeals Board opinion.

USATF Apology

We are certain the issues that divided us in the Jerome Young case will never arise again. Our actions in this case were motivated solely by our desire to abide by our rules in effect at the time. USATF vigorously prosecuted this athlete, convicted him, and fought hard to uphold that conviction on appeal. As the independent McLaren Commission found, there was no effort by USATF to cover up this case in any way. Nevertheless, we fully understand that USATF’s strict confidentiality rule created suspicion, and may have caused harm to the public’s perception of the Olympic Movement, which we deeply regret. We are pleased to say that we have amended the USATF confidentiality rules that existed since 1989 and during the time that this case was adjudicated, allowing us in new and future cases to share with all relevant bodies information that we previously would have kept confidential.

USATF sincerely regrets and apologizes for the difficulties that this case has caused for the USOC, IOC, IAAF, and our own organization. By adhering to our confidentiality rules, we never intended to embarrass the Olympic Movement. From the time we founded our out-of-competition drug testing system in 1989 to the time we handed all responsibilities for drug testing to USADA in October 2000, we did the best job we could within our resources to administer a fair, honest, and effective anti-doping program. We were not and are not perfect with respect to anti-doping activities, and we are sorry for any mistakes we made.

We share the USOC’s goal of furthering the Olympic Movement. We are proud of the place that our sport, our organization, and the USOC hold in the Olympic Family, and we do not wish to jeopardize it. Our Board has reviewed our position in this case, and has endorsed the route we are taking, and has specifically requested that we make this letter public.


Bill Roe President

Craig A. Masback CEO

cc: USATF Board of Directors USOC Board of Directors USOC Executive Committee USOC Track & Field Advisory Panel Jim Scherr, USOC Chief of Sport Performance Jeff Benz, Esq., USOC General Counsel Darryl Seibel, USOC Chief Communications Officer

Will poor old MJ have to hand it back?

By Philip Hersh
CHICAGO, Feb 1 AAP - The U.S. track federation finallygave in to relentless pressure from international andnational sports bodies and agreed to turn over alldocuments relating to the controversial doping case ofSydney Olympic gold medalist Jerome Young.
Faced with the loss of funding and possibledecertification as the U.S. governing body, USA Track &Field President Bill Roe sent a letter Sunday to U.S.Olympic Committee President Bill Martin meeting thedemands of the USOC and International Olympic Committeefor information USATF previously had withheld.
In the letter, USATF identified Young by name for thefirst time and apologised for the embarrassment causedby its adherence to a confidentiality rule. The USOC hadrevealed Young’s name to the IOC last fall.
``We fully understand that USATF’s strictconfidentiality rule created suspicion and may havecaused harm to the public’s perception of the Olympicmovement,’’ Roe wrote.
Young tested positive for the anabolic steroidnandrolone at the 1999 U.S. championships, but a USATF appeals panel ruled2-1 that it did not constitute a doping offence. Thatdecision has been widely criticised by those familiarwith details of the case.
So instead of getting a two-year ban for steroid use,Young went on to compete at the 2000 Olympics, winning agold medal on the 4-x-400 metre relay. Last August he won the world titleat 400 metres.
The international track federation already hasannounced its intention to take the case to the Court ofArbitration for Sport. If the court rules the decisionto clear Young was incorrect, the IOC could ask the forfeit the relay gold medal.
The relay team’s anchor, Michael Johnson, repeatedlyhas said he won’t give his medal back. It was the fifthand final Olympic gold for Johnson.