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Marion Jones' teammates lose appeal to keep medals

Photo by Lionel Cironneau

Photo by Lionel Cironneau

LONDON -- Two U.S. women's relay teams lost a preliminary ruling Friday in their fight to keep the Olympic medals stripped from them because of Marion Jones' doping offenses.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected a motion by the runners against a decision by the International Olympic Committee last year to take away their gold and bronze medals from the 2000 Sydney Games.

CAS dismissed the runners' claim that the IOC was not entitled to disqualify them beyond a three-year period after the games. CAS will schedule hearings next year into the full merits of the case, a process which could drag on for months.

"We acknowledge the decision of CAS and are now awaiting their final judgment on this matter," the IOC said in a statement.

Jones helped the U.S. women win gold in the 1,600 relay in Sydney and bronze in the 400 relay.

Jones admitted in 2007 that she was using performance-enhancing drugs at the time. She was stripped of all five medals, including gold in the 100 and 200 meters and bronze in the long jump.

The IOC stripped the relay medals in 2008 from her U.S. teammates, who appealed to CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland, on grounds that they should not be punished for Jones' drug violations.

Jones' teammates on the 1,600 squad were Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander Clark and Andrea Anderson. Members of the 400-relay team were Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson. All but Perry are included in the CAS appeal.

CAS ruled Friday that the IOC had the right to disqualify the relay runners, even though the decision came eight years after the Sydney Olympics. The athletes had cited an IOC rule that no Olympic decision could be challenged more than three years after the closing ceremony.

But CAS said the IOC acted on information provided by the International Association of Athletics Federations and did not issue an actual "decision" in the matter.

"The CAS panel has considered that the three-year rule did not prevent the IOC from withdrawing medals which were awarded at a victory ceremony because the distribution of medals, which occurs immediately after the race, is not in itself a 'decision,'" CAS said.

The IOC ruling on the medals would have been automatically overturned had CAS determined the three-year rule was applicable.

"In these circumstances, the CAS will summon the parties to a hearing and proceed to render a decision on the merits of the dispute," it said.

CAS secretary general Mattieu Reeb said the next hearing would probably take place after February's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The hearing would likely be held either in New York or Lausanne.

Jamaica took silver behind the U.S. in the 1,600 relay and will move up to gold if the standings are adjusted. Russia would move from bronze to silver and Nigeria from fourth to third. In the 400 relay, France stands to be upgraded from fourth to bronze.

Last week, the IOC executive board reallocated Jones' individual Sydney medals, but refused to promote Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou from silver to gold in the 100 because she allegedly evaded drug tests on the eve of the 2004 Athens Olympics and staged a motorcycle accident as a coverup.