Romanian Gymnast Loses Gold Medal

Romania’s Andreea Raducan was stripped of her all-around gymnastics gold medal after testing positive for a banned stimulant.

The decision today (Monday night ET) to strip the medal of the 16-year-old, who’s drawn comparisons to Nadia Comaneci for her looks and talent, was made by the IOC’s executive board, following the recommendation from its medical commission.

Raducan appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport late today, challenging the decision the International Olympic Committee’s executive board made earlier in the day. The CAS said three arbitrators would meet in Sydney on Wednesday to hear the case.

“The CAS will decide after that hearing whether or not a final decision will be issued on the same day,” the court, set up by the International Olympic Committee to rule on sporting disputes during competition, said in a statement.

Team Doctor Expelled The team doctor who gave Raducan the drug in two cold medicine pills was expelled from the games and suspended through the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake and 2004 summer games in Athens. The decisions were confirmed by Thomas Bach, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.

Raducan is the first gymnast to be stripped of a medal because of a drug violation, and is the second athlete at these games to lose a gold. She is the sixth positive drug case at the Sydney Games.

With Raducan’s disqualification, another Romanian, Simona Amanar, gets the gold and teammate Maria Olaru goes from bronze to silver. Liu Xuan of China, the original fourth-place finisher, now gets the bronze medal.

Raducan was allowed to keep her other medals, a gold from the team competition and a silver from the vault. IOC executive board member Anita DeFrantz said she also could remain in the Olympic Village with her team for the rest of the Games.

Raducan tested positive for pseudoephidrene, which is on the IOC’s list of banned stimulants, Bach said.

She underwent three different tests after each competition, Bach said. She tested negative after the Romanians won the team gold last Tuesday, but positive after she won the all-around Thursday.

She tested negative after winning a silver in the vault Sunday.

The drug was given to her by a team doctor in two cold medications, said Ion Tiriac, the Romanian National Olympic Committee president. Raducan took two pills, one containing pseudoephedrine and the second an over-the-counter drug, Tiriac said.

Doctor’s Responsibility?

“He has the real responsibility in this case,” Bach said of the doctor. “He prescribed the medication to this girl. It’s a good signal to all the people surrounding the athletes that they can be punished.”

Romanian officials were told Monday afternoon of the positive test, Tiriac said, but Raducan competed anyway in the individual floor exercise final that night. She finished seventh out of eight.

Tiriac said pseudoephedrine is “not at all on the [banned drug] list of the international gymnastics federation but is on the list of the IOC” and had been taken by other athletes. The drug, he said, “is a medicine that is not enhancing but diminishing performance.”

Raducan’s petiteness — 4-foot-10, 82 pounds — contributed to the positive test, he said. He didn’t say when she took the medication.

“We believe this case is completely irrelevant,” Tiriac said. “The athlete is the best gymnast in the world at this time — she has proved it.”

With her dark hair and eyes and pint-sized frame, Raducan has drawn comparisons to Comaneci, who at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.

In Sydney, Raducan became the first Romanian to win the all-around title since Comaneci. The Romanians also had the first sweep of the all-around since the former Soviet Union did it in 1960.

Team coach Octavian Belu threatened to withdraw the whole team from the Games, the private Romanian news agency Mediafax reported. He did not attend news conferences following Monday’s competition.

‘An Innocent Child’

“Andreea Raducan is an innocent child. She is not capable of such a thing as doping,” Dana Encutescu, federal secretary of the Romanian Gymnastic Association, told Romanian media.

Raducan is the fourth athlete to be stripped of a medal because of drugs. Three Bulgarian weightlifters lost their medals, including Izabela Dragneva, the gold medalist in the women’s 105-pound event.

Sevdalin Minchev lost his bronze in the men’s 137-pound class, and Ivan Ivanov lost his silver medal in the 123-pound class.

In addition, two other non-medalists, a hammer thrower from Belarus and a rower from Latvia, have been expelled for positive drug tests.

This isn’t the first drug controversy for the Romanian team in Sydney. Two weightlifters were expelled for failing pre-game, out-of-competition tests. The entire weightlifting team faced being kicked out, but paid a $50,000 fine to allow the “clean” weightlifters to stay.