An arbitration court Sunday reinstated two Russian athletes who were stripped of their Olympic medals after testing positive for a banned drug.
In a surprise decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled there was insufficient scientific evidence to disqualify swimmer Andrei Korneyev and Greco-Roman wrestler Zafar Gulyov.
The court said it gave the athletes “the benefit of the doubt” because of uncertainty over whether the drug bromantan is a stimulant.
Korneyev and Gulyov were among five athletes from the former Soviet Union--four Russians and one Lithuanian--expelled for using bromantan. The other three probably will be reinstated today, IOC officials said.
The International Olympic Committee said last Sunday that Korneyev and Gulyov tested positive for bromantan. Korneyev was stripped of his bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke and Gulyov lost his bronze in the light-flyweight (105 1/2-pound) class.
After Sunday’s ruling, IOC Director General Francois Carrard confirmed the sanctions would be lifted and the medals restored.
“This is a decision by an independent court, and the IOC will, of course, comply with it,” he said.
The ruling means Britain’s Nick Gillingham, fourth in the swimming final behind Korneyev, will not get the bronze after all. Neither will North Korea’s Kang Yong, who lost to Guleyev in the wrestling semifinals.
Gillingham said he may take the case to court.
“This is just absolute nonsense,” he said. “How can they in one breath admit he took a banned substance and in the next say there is insufficient evidence to disqualify? It just makes the whole nasty episode even worse.
“I am still awaiting final confirmation, but if this is the end result, the British Olympic Association and myself will take the matter to court. I just cannot accept this nonsense.”
The IOC medical commission said bromantan was a performance-enhancing stimulant similar to amphetamines.
But Russian Olympic officials appealed, arguing that bromantan was not a stimulant and was not officially on the banned list. The Russians said their athletes took the drug to strengthen their immune system to combat the heat and humidity in Atlanta.
Ratings for NBC’s Olympic coverage have taken a considerable dip. Friday night’s prime-time segment averaged an 18.6 rating with a 35% share of the audience, and Saturday night drew an 18.4/36.
Those were the lowest ratings during the Games, which before Friday were averaging a 22.4.
The Los Angeles numbers were also off. Friday’s rating was an 18.7 with a 37 share, Saturday’s a 20.1/43.
The highest-rated Olympics were the 1972 Games at Munich, which averaged a 24.4/44 during prime time on ABC. Montreal did a 23.9/46 and Los Angeles a 23.2/44 on ABC. Of course, network ratings overall have gone down since the influx of cable.
Brazil’s decision to skip the Olympic soccer medal ceremony after finishing a disappointing third outraged Atlanta Olympic organizers, whose protests were overridden by the IOC and some members of FIFA, soccer’s governing body.
Saturday’s presentation in Athens, Ga., is believed to have been one of the first with a team missing since the U.S. skipped the men’s basketball ceremony in protest in 1972. Brazil was originally told it would have to attend the ceremony, but FIFA President Joao Havelange, who is Brazilian, urged the IOC to let the team off.
For the second time in a week, an Olympic athlete who carried his nation’s flag in the opening ceremonies is defecting.
Light-middleweight boxer Jawid Aman Mukhamad of Afghanistan, and his coach of eight years, Ahmad Samim, surfaced in Buffalo, N.Y., on Friday night seeking political asylum in Canada.
Canada granted them refugee status Saturday night and they left the United States, according to Sydneymarie Putnam, a Buffalo refugee service worker.
A Canadian government spokesman would not comment.
On Friday, Iraqi flag-bearer and weightlifter Raed Ahmed said the United States had granted him permanent asylum status.