GENEVA — American sprinters who were stripped of their 2000 Olympics relay medals because teammate Marion Jones was doping won an appeal Friday to have them restored.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favor of the women, who appealed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to disqualify them from the Sydney Games.
The court said the IOC and International Association of Athletics Federations rules in 2000 did not allow entire teams to be disqualified because of doping by one athlete.
The IOC said the ruling was “disappointing and especially unfortunate for the athletes of the other teams who competed according to the rules.”
In Sydney, Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander Clark and Andrea Anderson were part of the squad that won gold in the 4×400 relay. Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson were on the 4×100 bronze medal squad.
All but Perry joined the appeal.
“The panel found that at the time of the Sydney Olympic Games there was no express IOC or IAAF rule in force that clearly allowed the IOC to annul the relay team results if one team member was found to have committed a doping offense,” CAS said.
In 2007, Jones admitted she was doping in Sydney and also lost her individual golds in the 100 and 200 meters and bronze in the long jump. She spent about six months in a Texas prison in 2008 for lying about using performance-enhancing drugs and her role in a check-fraud scam.
She has since made a comeback in basketball with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA.
“I’ve totally moved on,” Jones told The Associated Press on Friday in San Antonio, where the Shock were preparing to play the Silver Stars. “I’m moving forward.”
Jones said she had not heard about the CAS decision and had not spoken to her former Olympic teammates recently. She declined further comment.
The CAS panel of three lawyers acknowledged the ruling might be unfair to relay teams that competed “with no doped athletes” but added the decision “exclusively depends on the rules enacted or not enacted by the IOC and the IAAF at the time of the Sydney Olympic Games.”
The CAS inflicted a further defeat on the IOC by ordering the Olympic body to pay 10,000 Swiss francs ($9,500) toward the athletes’ legal costs.
The IOC has now lost two CAS rulings within five weeks involving Olympic medals stripped.
Belarus hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan won their appeals last month against disqualification from the 2008 Beijing Games and regained their silver and bronze medals, respectively. Both had elevated levels of testosterone, but the CAS panel said tests were invalid because international laboratory standards in Beijing were not respected.
“The IOC will continue to enforce its zero tolerance policy in the fight against doping for the sake of the athletes’ health and to ensure fair competition,” the IOC said in a statement.
The case involving the sprinters was heard over two days in Lausanne, Switzerland, in May, when the relay runners’ legal team argued they should not be punished for cheating by Jones.
The panel agreed unanimously Friday that the IAAF’s rule in 2000 was the decisive point.
The court also confirmed its own precedent set five years ago in a previous doping case involving U.S. relay runners at the Sydney Olympics. That panel determined that teammates of Jerome Young should not lose their 4×400 gold medals after he received a retroactive ban from 1999-2001 — meaning he was technically ineligible to compete in Sydney.
Young’s relay partners — Michael Johnson, Antonio Pettigrew, Angelo Taylor, Alvin Harrison and Calvin Harrison — won their appeal to CAS after the IAAF annulled their result.
However, the IOC ended up stripping the entire team of the medals in 2008 following the admission of doping by Pettigrew. The IAAF amended its rules in 2003 so that relay teams could then be disqualified if one member was caught doping.
The ruling Friday dashed the hopes of Jamaica’s team of being upgraded from silver to gold in the 4×400 relay. Russia finished third and Nigeria out of the medals in fourth. In the 4×100, the U.S. edged France out of the medals.