Athletics: IOC doping doubt puts medals decision on hold

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The Independent Online

Concerns that the BALCO doping scandal may yet implicate other athletes have persuaded the International Olympic Committee to delay its decision over reallocating the five medals won by Marion Jones at the 2000 Sydney Games.

"We feel that some names of athletes may still appear," said disciplinary commission member, Denis Oswald, on the first day of the IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne which is set to strip Jones who confessed in October to doping before the Sydney Olympics of the three golds and two bronzes she won in the Telstra Stadium. Although he confirmed that the medals would be stripped from Jones this week, he added that a decision on who might or might not inherit them would take "a matter of months".

Among those standing to benefit from upgrading is the Greek sprinter Ekaterina Thanou, who won the 100m silver in 2000 but was suspended for two years in 2004 after avoiding a doping test on the eve of the Athens Olympics. A Greek prosecutor recently shelved an investigation into possible links between BALCO and Thanou, fellow sprinter Konstadinos Kederis and their former coach Christos Tzekos because of a lack of evidence.

Oswald said the IOC needed more information on the BALCO affair before upgrading athletes. Asked whether he was referring to Thanou, he replied: "Yes."

The IOC will also need more time to decide whether to strip the medals from the two relay teams that Jones ran in, the 4x100 metres and the 4x400m.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Twell, who defended her European junior cross country title in Toro, Spain on Sunday, is looking forward to testing herself against African rivals at the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh in March.

Twell, who with bronze medallist Charlotte Purdue secured a third successive team win for Britain's juniors, has received support from Paula Radcliffe, who has tipped her as one to watch out for in 2012.

"I know what she's done and that makes me believe nothing is beyond your dreams and belief, and you can take on and beat the Kenyans and Ethiopians," Twell said.

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