Originally created 09/26/03

USOC confirms Jerome Young tested positive before 2000 Games



LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- U.S. Olympic officials confirmed for the first time Thursday that sprinter Jerome Young tested positive for steroids a year before winning a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games.

The confirmation of Young's name opens the way for international officials to reopen the case and possibly strip the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team of the gold.

The case was examined by the IOC executive board during a review by the U.S. Olympic Committee of its drug-testing program from 1985 to 2000. USOC acting president Bill Martin said Young was one of 24 American athletes who won Olympic medals after positive drug tests.

IOC president Jacques Rogge called the confirmation a "crucial" development, and said the committee was asking track and field's world governing body to investigate.

"The identification of the athlete is a major breakthrough," said Arne Ljungqvist, anti-doping chief of the International Association of Athletics Federations. "The case can finally be evaluated and concluded."

The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency have been investigating accusations - first reported by the Los Angeles Times - that Young tested positive for nandrolone in 1999 but was cleared on appeal by U.S. officials. He went on to win a gold medal in Sydney as part of the relay team.

WADA chairman Dick Pound has pushed for the gold medals to be stripped from Young and the rest of the relay team.

The USOC said Thursday it would ask USA Track & Field, which has previously refused to disclose any details of the case, to release documents explaining why Young was exonerated.

Once the IAAF receives the files, it will review them to determine whether Young was exonerated for valid reasons.

"If it was done right, then the case is closed," Ljungqvist said.

If the IAAF finds Young should not have been cleared, it will submit the case to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, he said.

The IAAF had demanded for three years that the U.S. federation divulge the name of the unidentified Sydney gold medalist who had been exonerated of a steroid offense. USATF refused, citing confidentiality rules.

The dispute ended up in the arbitration court, which ruled in January that USATF did not have to divulge details of 13 positive cases from 1996-2000.

Young, who won gold in the 400 meters and 1,600-meter relay at last month's World Championships, has said he never committed a doping offense.

Rogge said he would give the USOC's report to the IOC medical commission for further study, and that he hoped the panel will submit its findings at the next executive board meeting in December.

"At this stage I can only say I am happy with the openness and the transparency of the report," he said. "I can not say I am satisfied with the report."

The IOC asked for a full report on the American drug-testing program after the USOC's former doping control chief, Dr. Wade Exum, contended earlier this year that many athletes failed tests but competed in the Olympics once the USOC cleared them on grounds of inadvertent use.

The USOC said the cases of the 23 other athletes who won Olympic medals after failing drug tests dating back to the 1980s were handled properly according to the rules in place at the time.

The majority of the 24 cases involved stimulants in the ephedrine class or similar substances, U.S. officials said, and some of the positive tests occurred years before the athletes won Olympic medals. The punishment at the time for positive ephedrine tests was a warning or three-month suspension.

Ephedrine is a stimulant contained in some cold remedies. One form of the substance, pseudoephedrine, was removed this week from the banned drug list by the WADA.

USOC chief executive Jim Scherr said the report was intended to "dispel any notion that the USOC was involved in any conspiracy of silence of doping cover-up."

Since 2000, drug-testing in the United States has been run by an independent body, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The USOC report was compiled by doping expert Rich Young, who went through 700,000 pages of documents.