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IOC spokesman rejects U.S. medal claim
Posted: Wednesday October 21, 1998 12:37 PM
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- A bid by four United Statesswimmers hoping to upgrade their 1976 Olympic silver medals to gold was rejected by a leading International Olympic Committee official Wednesday.
Jacques Rogge, an IOC executive board member who is a front-runner to eventually replace Olympic leader Juan Antonio Samaranch, reiterated the IOC's opposition to retrosective action on suspected drug users.
"We are not going to change what has happened in the past," Rogge said. "There's absolutely not going to be any change for things that happened more than 10 years ago.'
Citing evidence in a court probe of sports doping in the old East German regime, the U.S. Olympic Committee said Monday it was preparing to ask for "appropriate medal recognition" for the American women's 400-meter medley relay team from the 1976 Games.
The quartet of Linda Jezek, Lauri Siering, Camile Wright and Shirley Babashoff was beaten by 6.6 seconds by the East German team in Montreal but a German court case has provided what the USOC sees as irrefutable evidence that one of the Germans was helped by illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
USOC president Bill Hybl said the USOC would not ask that the East German quartet of Ulrike Richter, Hannelore Anke, Andrea Pollack and Kornelia Ender relinquish its title, because the doping appeared to be unknown to the athletes at the time.
Hybl said he would "pursue having appropriate medal recognition" for the quartet with Samaranch over the next 2-3 weeks.
But Rogge maintained IOC's stance that it was too difficult to prove that doping robbed athletes of medals during the era.
"You have to have documented evidence if you want to reopen these cases," Rogge said. "We know of course that there was a doping problem in some countries but at this stage we still have no documented evidence of doping of an athlete on the day of Olympic competitions.
"You cannot just condemn someone because there was a general problem. Not all of them hae taken drugs."
Australian officials tried a similar approach to the IOC earlier this year through IOC vice-president Kevan Gosper. The approach was made on behalf of sprinter Raelene Boyle who finished with silver in the 100- and 200-meter races in 1972 behind East German Renate Stecher.
"We pursued it because Raelene Boyle raised it with us," AOC president John Coates said Wednesday. "The response we got was the response Jacques gave just then."
Coates said he understood the IOC point of view.
"I don't know how you rewrite the record books. And then you've got different drugs with different rules applying at different times," Coates said.
He said if the IOC ever changed its mind on the matter he would be lining up alongside those like Hybl.
"If the door opens and the IOC is receptive then obviously we'd have cases on the table as well," Coates said. "I feel very much for the athletes who now realize they were beaten by people who it seems had drug benefits, but I think it's very difficult to rewrite history."
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