Rules support loss of medals for Cox’s U.S. relay team

February 4, 2010

Rules in place at the time of the 2004 Olympics make it increasingly likely all members of the U.S. women’s 4×400 metres relay team will lose their gold medals because of last week’s doping suspension of alternate Crystal Cox.

Rule 39.2 of IAAF Competition Rules 2004-2005, which governed athletics participation at the Athens Games, clearly calls for the loss of medals if a team member violates anti-doping rules. 

“Where the athlete who commits an anti-doping rule violation … is a member of a relay team, the relay team shall be automatically disqualified from the event in question, with all resulting consequences for the relay team, including the forfeiture of all titles, awards, medals, points and prize and appearance money,” the rule, which applies to alternates, states.

Cox was suspended for four years and all of her results since 2001 were disqualified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for using prohibited anabolic agents and hormones over a period from 2001 through 2004, USADA said.

Cox later denied using performance-enhancing drugs, saying in an email to family and friends she was innocent but signed the sanction because she did not have the financial resources to fight the charges. 

She ran in the preliminary round of the 4×400 but not the final, where the team of Monique Henderson, Monique Hennagan, Sanya Richards and Deedee Trotter won gold. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was studying Cox’s case and considering setting up a disciplinary commission.

If it does, the IOC will likely ask the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) – athletics’ governing body – for its position on disqualifying the U.S. relay team. 

The IAAF could then, if it chooses, invoke Rule 39.2 and recommend the results be disqualified.

The IOC would make the final decision. Traditionally, it has stripped national relay teams of medals when a team member, including alternates, has been suspended for or admitted to doping. Such was the case at the 2000 Olympics for the medal-winning U.S. men’s 4×400 metres relay and women’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.

Russia, Jamaica and Britain, who finished behind the Americans in the 2004 race, would likely move up on the medals stand if the U.S. is disqualified.

PHOTO: Crystal Cox of the U.S. runs during the women’s 4 x 400 metres relay at the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games August 27, 2004. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn


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Courtex Nzima,

some rules are there just to frustrate the best athletes of the world such as the reasons outlined above. Dopping system favors few individuals and not poor athletes. the rules iin my view, has to be applied universally than targeting those best athletes as a way of making them fail the competetion.
The Fedaration has to revisite its policies regarding athletics espencially on the issue of dopping as outlined in the dopping manual of 1998.

Posted by Panasonic | Report as abusive

If Cox’s teammates lose their medals, then they have a strong case for appeal. Jerome Young, from the same year, ran as an alternate in a separate relay race, and then later it was found out that he had been doping. His teammates did not lose their medals. If Team USA loses their medals, then the IOC is applying different standards to different teams. Since it was the same year, they were under identical rules. Identical penalties should apply.

I like how Italy is now fining individuals who are caught doping. Doping is damaging (both economically and morally) to a country, fellow teammates, and to competitors.

Posted by Brookelorren | Report as abusive