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Sunday, March 11, 2012
IOC still looking at '04 cycling medals

Associated Press

LONDON -- Eight years later, the IOC is still investigating whether to readjust the medals from a men's cycling race at the 2004 Athens Olympics after American rider Tyler Hamilton admitted doping.

The IOC has renewed its request for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to provide documents on the case so it can proceed with its own procedures to formally strip him of the gold in the road race time trial and possibly move other cyclists up in the medals, IOC vice president Thomas Bach told The Associated Press.

The move comes as the Russian Olympic Committee presses its bid for retired Russian rider Viatcheslav Ekimov, who finished second behind Hamilton at the 2004 Athens Games, to be upgraded from silver to gold.

The case is gaining urgency because the International Olympic Committee's eight-year statute of limitations for revising results is running out.

"USADA told us they're still looking into the matter," said Bach, a German lawyer who heads the IOC's juridical commission and leads most of its doping investigations.

After years of denials, Hamilton told CBS' "60 Minutes" last year that he had repeatedly used performance-enhancing drugs.

USADA said at the time that Hamilton had turned over his gold medal to the doping agency. USADA also said it would continue to cooperate with the IOC "as appropriate concerning the final implications of our overall investigation" into doping in cycling.

The IOC executive board hoped to take action on the case at its upcoming meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday and Wednesday, but any decision will likely be postponed.

Bach said the IOC would eventually act on its own if it didn't receive the U.S. files. The eight-year deadline comes up in August.

Before adjusting the results and reallocating the medals, the IOC wants to be certain there is nothing in the U.S. investigation that implicates other riders or their coaches from the Athens cycling competition.

One potential option is for the IOC to disqualify Hamilton but not readjust the medals.

Hamilton had already come under investigation by the IOC during the Athens Games, when his initial doping sample indicated he had tested positive for a blood transfusion. The case was dropped after his backup "B" sample was mistakenly frozen and couldn't be properly tested.

Hamilton tested positive a month later at the Vuelta a Espana. After serving a two-year suspension, he returned to cycling but tested positive again for a banned substance in 2009 and was banned for eight years.

USADA said it had no comment to make on the Hamilton-IOC case.

Standing to receive the Athens gold medal is Ekimov, a former teammate of Hamilton and Lance Armstrong. American Bobby Julich finished third in Athens, with Michael Rogers of Australia fourth.

Ekimov already has two Olympic gold medals -- the track team pursuit at the 1988 Seoul Games and the road time trial at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The Russians failed in a 2006 appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have Hamilton's gold given to Ekimov. But they recently sent a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge asking for the medal.

Ekimov rode with Armstrong on the U.S. Postal and Discovery Channel teams. He retired from cycling at the end of the 2006 season but remained in the sport as a director of the Discovery and RadioShack teams.