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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Romanians May Return Medals

Gymnastics: Silver and bronze winners appear set to act in protest after IOC strips Raducan of gold medal.

September 27, 2000|DIANE PUCIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — Medals, medals, who has the medals?

According to a Romanian television report, the Romanian gymnastics team, angry over the stripping of the all-around gold medal from 16-year-old Andreea Raducan, has returned the silver and bronze medals it also had won.

According to Franklin Servan-Schreiber, spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, however, the medals have not been returned, and the Romanians are waiting for the results of Raducan's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"It's held up until the Court of Arbitration makes its decision [Thursday]," Servan-Schreiber told the Associated Press today.

Raducan, who turns 17 Sunday, lost the medal on Tuesday after drug-test results revealed a banned substance that, according to the team, was in a cold pill Raducan had taken for flu-like symptoms.

A member of the Romanian delegation said that Coach Octavio Belu had told a Romanian television station that the gold, silver and bronze medals had all been returned. Simona Amanar had won the silver and Maria Olaru the bronze.

With the action taken against Raducan, Amanar moved up to gold-medal winner, Olaru to silver and Liu Xuan of China to bronze.

It is becoming almost a daily note when a weightlifter, male or female, or a track and field athlete tests positive but this is the first time a gymnast has been stripped of a medal.

"We feel we are being made an example of," a Romanian team official said. "A little girl is being punished to make a point when all she did was take a tablet for a cold, which the doctor gave her."

The Romanian team doctor who gave Raducan the drug was expelled from the Games and suspended through the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

Shannon Miller, a U.S. seven-time Olympic medal winner, said on MSNBC television Tuesday that taking pseudoephedrine, the banned stimulant that turned up in Raducan's drug test, would not have helped the gymnast. Miller said the last thing anyone would want just before stepping onto the balance beam or floor exercise would be to have the heart racing or nerves jangling because of a stimulant.

The IOC had said on Tuesday that although it believed Raducan was innocent of knowingly taking a banned substance and that she probably received no competitive advantage, rules were rules and the medal must be returned.

Raducan, 4 feet 10 and 82 pounds, had won the all-around title, the first gold all-around medal Romania had won since Nadia Comaneci in 1976.

Raducan has been allowed to keep the silver medal she won in the vault final and the gold medal she won as part of the winning Romanian team. She tested negative after the vault and was not tested after the team competition.

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