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Romanian Gymnast's Appeal Rejected

Gymnastics: Panel cites commitment to a drug-free Games as Raducan becomes first in her sport to be stripped of gold medal.


SYDNEY, Australia — A 16-year-old Romanian pixie, Andreea Raducan, joined a trio of Bulgarian weightlifters and will be leaving the Olympics lighter than expected, losing an individual gold medal after testing positive for a banned substance.

The gymnast's appeal was denied Thursday by a panel of three arbitrators from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She is the first Olympic gymnast to be stripped of her gold medal.

Raducan differs from the weightlifters in that she lost the gold medal--from the all-around competition--because she tested positive for pseudoephedrine, not a performance-enhancing substance.

Though the distraught sprite cut a sympathetic figure, drawing empathy from officials, the panel ruled against her after hearing testimony during a long day in a Sydney courtroom Wednesday.

"The panel is aware of the impact of its decision on a fine, young elite athlete," CAS said in a statement. "It finds, in balancing the interests of Miss Raducan with the commitment of the Olympic Movement to a drug-free sport, the anti-doping code must be enforced without compromise."

At a news conference later in the day, Raducan said she was disappointed by the ruling.

"It's not for me to judge but I'm convinced I've done everything right," she said. "I have competed fairly. All I took was a pill. It didn't help me compete. On the contrary, it gave me dizziness."

Ion Tiriac, president of the Romanian Olympic Committee, also was unhappy.

"I am bitter," he said. "I am disappointed. I am part of the Olympic movement. I believe the IOC fights like hell against doping but so do I. Sooner or later we have to put out house in order and sooner or later we have to put our act in order."

International Olympic Committee Director General Francois Carrard made a brief statement on the decision.

"It was a very difficult decision to take for the IOC executive board," Carrard said. "But this ruling demonstrates that it had no option. And this has to be understood within the context of the new, very strict provisions which are in force within the fight against doping, which concerns the entire Olympic movement, all parties involved, the governments and world anti-doping agency."

The three arbitrators from CAS were Judge Tricia Kavanagh of Australia, Maidie E. Oliveau of Los Angeles and Stephan Netzle, based in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Romanian gymnast had been the first from her country since Nadia Comaneci in 1976 to win a gold medal in the all-around competition. Team officials said the banned substance was in a cold pill she had taken for flu.

She will be allowed to keep the other two medals she won here--a silver in the vault and a gold from the team competition. Moving up to take the all-around gold is Romanian teammate Simona Amanar, Maria Olaru the silver and Liu Xuan of China the bronze. The team had talked about returning all of its medals but decided to keep them.

"For me, this medal doesn't mean anything," Amanar said. "For me, I'm only going to accept it because it belongs to Romania."

Romanian team doctor Loachim Oana, the official who gave her the drug, already has been dispatched from the Games and was hit with a long suspension, through the 2004 Games in Athens.

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