Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, July 01, 2004
 

Sport Court Rules Against Young: The Court of Arbitration of Sport ruled Monday that US sprinter Jerome Young should be stripped of a gold medal he won in the 2000 Olympics for flunking a drug test in 1999.

    Now, world sports officials must decide whether Young's relay teammates -- including Michael Johnson -- also should forfeit their medals.

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport, which found Young guilty of doping, was not asked to rule on his relay teammates. But the panel said it "does not necessarily accept that, in the unusual circumstances of the present case, this consequence must follow."

    Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999 and was suspended from competition. He was exonerated -- avoiding a two-year ban -- when a USA Track & Field appeals panel ruled that a clean test taken six days after the positive test raised a "reasonable doubt."

    Track and field's world governing body is expected to follow the court's ruling and recommend to the International Olympic Committee that Young's medal be stripped.

There seem to be two fundamental problems with this case. First, the corruption at USATF (the track and field governing body) seems to have been rampant, and now it may cost all athletes, even those that did not take performance-enhancing drugs. According to the article, the USATF withheld evidence of Young's positive test for several years, from both the IOC and the USOC. Only after facing the possibility of decertification did the organization crack down on athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. If Young's test had been revealed, then he most likely would not have been able to compete and his relay-mates would not be facing the loss of their medals.

But, there also needs to be a better system in place so that disputes such as these can be resolved before the competition takes place. There is no reason that a failed 1999 test should be used to strip someone of a medal from a 2000 competition in 2004. All of the world sports organizations should work together to ensure a system that is fair, to the accused athletes, to their teammates, and to the sports world.

The panel's ruling is final and cannot be appealed. You can read the decision here.





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