| Johnson feels the US needs an independent anti-doping body
Paris: American athletics great Michael Johnson said Thursday he wouldn’t, under any circumstances, hand back his gold medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympic 4x400m relay despite claims that one member of the team, Jerome Young, had tested positive prior to the Games.
While the newly-crowned 400m champion was cleared in an internal hearing over his positive test in 1999, Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said the news made the gold medals illegitimate and on Thursday called for the IOC to open an inquiry into the affair.
Johnson, however, told L’Equipe that he would not be adhering to Pound’s suggestion they give their medals back.
“They will never get my medal,” said the five-time Olympic gold medallist, who along with all the other American track and field gold medal winners from Sydney had been under suspicion since the revelation that one of them had run despite having failed a drugs test.
Johnson said that it was time the punishments on doped American athletes was handled by someone other than the USA Track and Field (USATF) because it was afraid to hand them out fearing it would be subject to court action.
The USATF and the IAAF had explained on Wednesday that any American doping case between 1996-2000 remained closed after a ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year in a case brought by the IAAF to try and force the Americans to reveal the names of the athletes who had tested positive.
However, that cut little ice with Pound. “I would like the IOC to open an enquiry into the affair and take the appropriate measures as soon as possible.
The legality of the American victory in the 4x400 relay is now in question,” said Pound, who added he deplored the conspiracy of silence surrounding the USATF.
The Americans, though, defend themselves by saying that because of a confidentiality clause they are not at liberty to reveal the athlete’s name.
While 27-year-old Young did not run in the final of the relay, he was eligible for a medal because he had run in the earlier rounds.
Meanwhile, Young said on Thursday that he was not concerned about the revelations in the Los Angeles Times that he had won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics despite having failed a drugs test prior to them.
“It doesn’t bother me,” said the Jamaican-born runner, who became a naturalised American in 1995. “I just want to put it all behind me.”
Young, who until Tuesday had never fulfilled his obvious talent finishing fourth and fifth in two previous world finals, said it was of little interest to anybody save the press.
“Only the media are talking about it. I certainly don’t want to talk about it and I am just here to enjoy the world championships.”