Olympic Committee Strips Medals From Marion Jones' Relay Teammates

Marion Jones' former relay teammates paid the price Thursday for her doping offenses, losing their medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified and stripped the medals from the athletes who won gold with Jones in the 1,600-meter relay and bronze in the 400-meter relay.

IOC legal adviser Francois Carrard, who assisted the disciplinary panel investigating the case, said the U.S. Olympic Committee has been ordered to return the medals.

The decision follows the admission by Jones last year that she was doping at the time of the Sydney Games.

She returned her five medals last year and the IOC formally stripped her of the results in December. Jones won gold in the 100 meters, 200 and 1,600 relay, and bronze in the long jump and 400 relay.

Jones' teammates on the 1,600 squad were Jearl-Miles Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander-Richardson and Andrea Anderson. The 400-relay squad also had Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson.

The runners had previously refused to give up their medals, saying it would be wrong to punish them for Jones' violations. They have hired a U.S. lawyer to defend their case, which could wind up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Jones "was part of a team and she competed in the finals," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "Based on the recommendations of the disciplinary commission, the entire team was disqualified."

The IOC had put off any decision on reallocating the medals, pending more information from the ongoing BALCO steroid investigation in the United States.

A reshuffling of the medals could affect the medal results of more than three dozen other athletes. The IOC wants to know whether any other Sydney athletes are implicated in the BALCO files.

The next IOC board meeting takes place in Athens in June, followed by another meeting in Beijing on the eve of the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

Davies said there was no timetable for a decision on redistributing medals, but noted there was an eight-year statute of limitations. The Sydney Games finished on Oct. 1, 2000.

Davies said the Jones' relay case differed from that of U.S. 400-meter runner Jerome Young, who was stripped of his gold medal in the 1,600-meter relay from Sydney because of a doping violation dating back to 1999. He ran only in the preliminary of the relay.

The IOC had sought to strip the entire American men's team but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in 2005 that there were no rules in place at the time of the Sydney Games for a whole relay team to be disqualified for an offense by one member.

"Marion Jones ran in the finals and she was of her own admission doped during the Olympic Games," Davies said. "Jerome Young was found to be doped before the Olympic Games and should never have competed in the first place."

In December, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the committee had initiated the process for removing the U.S. relay medals, but would give the runners a hearing. He said the athletes would be represented by the U.S. Olympic Committee, even though the American body has already said the relays were tainted and the medals should be returned.

Jamaica took silver behind the U.S. in the 1,600 relay and will move up to gold if the standings are adjusted. Russia was third and Nigeria fourth. In the 400 relay, France was fourth behind the Americans.

After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted in federal court in October that she used the designer steroid "the clear" from September 2000 to July 2001. She began serving a six-month prison sentence last month for lying to investigators about doping and her role in a check fraud scam.

There is strong reluctance among IOC officials to award Jones' 100-meter gold to Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, who was at the center of a major scandal four years later in Athens. She and fellow Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris failed to show for pre-games drug checks and were hospitalized after claiming they were injured in a motorcycle crash on the way to the tests.

Thanou and Kenteris missed the games and were later banned for two years.

One option under consideration by IOC officials is leaving the gold medal spot vacant.