Olympic Track and Field: Steroid Punishment Must Hit Whole 2004 U.S. Relay Team

Blake DorfmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2012

USA Today
USA Today

Crystal Cox ran in the prelims for the United States’ 4x400 relay team that went on to win gold at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

Crystal Cox took steroids, and on Saturday the International Olympic Committee stripped her of her medal as reported by the Associated Press (via Fox News).

The rest of the team must be stripped of their medals as well.

The IOC has shelved a ruling on the others—Sanya Richards, Dee Dee Trotter, Monique Henderson and Monique Hennegan—saying that the International Association of Athletics Federations must make the final decision on the team disqualification. After the Marion Jones meltdown, her relay teammates from the Sydney Olympics had their medals taken away (only to be given back on appeal). 

What makes this story relevant to the London Games is that Sanya Richards is now Sanya Richards-Ross, a gold medal favorite in the 400 and wife of NFL cornerback Aaron Ross. 

Allowing Richards-Ross or any other member of the 2004 team to keep their medals on the mantle would be unjust. 

What stinks about this is that Cox wasn’t one of the four runners who ran in the finals, and the team would have almost certainly made it to those finals with someone else running in her place. So, when all is said and done, the Americans would have won anyway. 

What stinks even more is the downward tumble of the reputation of American track athletes. That one of the relay's members was doping will make some suspicious of the others on the team, particularly in light of how many runners from the 2000 and 2004 Olympics have been embroiled in doping scandals. And that suspicion spreads to many nation's teams, not just the United States' team.


Yes, of course, but this is getting ridiculous. Stripping medals from the entire team (and not giving them back after an appeal) would lead to more vigilance among teammates. If one member of a team is suspected, the others won’t want to risk the medals and reputations on it. They’ll call them out and find someone else. That’s a step in the right direction. 

The IOC can either be compassionate or proactive in decisions like this, and being proactive is what they should be. 

Strip them of their medals.