Romanian Gymnast Loses Gold Medal

S Y D N E Y, Australia, Sept. 26, 2000 -- Romania’s Andreea Raducan was strippedof her all-around gymnastics gold medal after testing positive fora banned stimulant.

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

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

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

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

Raducan is the first gymnast to be stripped of a medal becauseof a drug violation, and is the second athlete at these games tolose a gold. She is the sixth positive drug case at the SydneyGames.

With Raducan’s disqualification, another Romanian, SimonaAmanar, gets the gold and teammate Maria Olaru goes from bronze tosilver. Liu Xuan of China, the original fourth-place finisher, nowgets the bronze medal.

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

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

She underwent three different tests after each competition, Bachsaid. She tested negative after the Romanians won the team goldlast 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 coldmedications, said Ion Tiriac, the Romanian National OlympicCommittee president. Raducan took two pills, one containingpseudoephedrine and the second an over-the-counter drug, Tiriacsaid.

Doctor’s Responsibility?

“He has the real responsibility in this case,” Bach said ofthe doctor. “He prescribed the medication to this girl. It’s agood signal to all the people surrounding the athletes that theycan be punished.”

Romanian officials were told Monday afternoon of the positivetest, Tiriac said, but Raducan competed anyway in the individualfloor 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 listof the IOC” and had been taken by other athletes. The drug, hesaid, “is a medicine that is not enhancing but diminishingperformance.”

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 — shehas proved it.”

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

In Sydney, Raducan became the first Romanian to win theall-around title since Comaneci. The Romanians also had the firstsweep of the all-around since the former Soviet Union did it in1960.

Team coach Octavian Belu threatened to withdraw the whole teamfrom 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 ofsuch a thing as doping,” Dana Encutescu, federal secretary of theRomanian Gymnastic Association, told Romanian media.

Raducan is the fourth athlete to be stripped of a medal becauseof drugs. Three Bulgarian weightlifters lost their medals,including Izabela Dragneva, the gold medalist in the women’s105-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 fromBelarus and a rower from Latvia, have been expelled for positivedrug tests.

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