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Danilova, Muehlegg to Be Stripped of 2002 Olympic Gold Medals - 2003-12-18

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland has ruled that all the 2002 Olympic cross-country gold medals won by Russian Olga Danilova and Spain's Johann Muehlegg should be taken away because of their positive dope tests. The decision is good news for Canadian, Norwegian and Austrian athletes.

The court says that by March 15, 2004, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should award the women's combined pursuit gold medal to Canadian skier Beckie Scott. Norway's Thomas Alsgaard and Frode Estil should get the men's gold medal in the combined pursuit event.

Their respective National Olympic Committees supported the athletes' claims that the earlier failure to cancel all of Danilova's and Muehlegg's results was against the Olympic Charter, which governs the games.

Danilova and Muehlegg both tested positive for an endurance-boosting drug (Darbepoietin) near the end of the Salt Lake City Olympics. They were immediately banned from the Winter Games after failing the tests. The IOC had allowed them to keep medals won prior to the positive results.

However, the court's General Secretary Matthieu Reeb told VOA Sports his organization found the disqualification should have applied to all events, and stripped the offenders of their previous medals.

"CAS found the IOC should have decided differently," he said. "So the IOC now is ordered to reconsider all these issues and issue a new decision with an amended ranking for all the events in which Muehlegg and Danilova took part."

During the 2002 Olympics, Danilova was disqualified from the 30-kilometer classical style event but was allowed to keep her medal in the five-kilometer pursuit event. That medal will now go to Canada's Beckie Scott.

Muehlegg, a German-born athlete who skis for Spain, was stripped of his medal in the men's 50-kilometer classical event. He was allowed to keep medals in the combined pursuit and the 30-kilometer freestyle. Thomas Alsgaard and Frode Estil tied for second in the combined pursuit, and will now share the gold medal in that event. Kristen Skjeldal of Norway is to be awarded the bronze medal in the 30-kilometer event. The 30-kilometer freestyle gold will go to Austrian Christian Hoffmann. The Austrian Olympic Committee had not joined the Norwegians and Canadians in the case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.