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September 26, 2000
Champion gymnast in drugs bustThe Rediff Team
Andreea Raducan of Romania has tested positive for drugs and could be stripped of the gold medal she won in the women's all-round event.
A Romanian official described the drug as cold medication.
IOC drug chief Prince Alexandre de Merode however said the medical commission was satisfied with the tests and would recommend that 16-year-old Raducan should be stripped of her all-round individual medal, and that she may be allowed to keep her team gold and vault silver because a doctor was at fault for giving her the medicine.
The decision to strip the medal of the 16-year-old, whose looks and talent have drawn comparisions to that other great Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, was made by the IOC's executive board.
The team doctor who gave Raducan the drug in two cold medicine pills has been expelled, and suspended through the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake and 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
Raducan is the first ever 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.
Following the action, Simona Amanar of Romania will get the gold while team-mate Maria Olaru goes up from bronze to silver. Liu Xuan of China, who finished fourth, will now get the bronze.
Raducan will however keep the gold she won in the team competition, and the silver she won on the vault.
Raducan tested positive for pseudoephidrene, which is on the IOC's list of banned stimulants. She underwent tests after each competition, but tested negative after the Romanians won the team gold last Tuesday, negative again after winning a silver in the vault on Sunday, but positive after she won the all-around on Thursday.
The drug was given to her by a team doctor in two cold medications pills, said Ion Tiriac, Romania's Olympic Committee president. Raducan took two cold medicine pills, one of which contained pseudoephedrine.
"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 pointed out that pseudoephedrine is "not 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, Tiriac added, diminishes performance, it does not enhance it.
Raducan's diminutive stature -- she is 4-foot-10, and weighs 82 pounds -- contributed to the positive test, Tiriac believed.
"We believe this case is completely irrelevant," Tiriac told the media. "The athlete is the best gymnast in the world at this time - she has proved it."
Team coach Octavian Belu meanwhile threatened to withdraw the whole team from the games, the private Romanian news agency Mediafax reported.
He did not attend news conferences following yesterday's competition.
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