Congratulations, 2000 Nigerian 4x400 Relay Team: You Just Won the Gold Medal
I might be getting a little bit ahead of myself with that headline, but only a little bit.
American sprinter Antonio Pettigrew, who was part of Team USA's gold-medal winning 1600-meter relay team at the 2000 Olympics, admitted under oath today that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 1997 to 2001. According to the rules governing international sports, that should result in Team USA being stripped of its gold medal, and the silver medal winners, Nigeria, being awarded the gold.
That 2000 relay has been controversial almost since Team USA crossed the finish line first in Sydney. There were always whispers about doping in American track, and in 2004, another member of the American relay team, Jerome Young, was found to have used performance-enhancing drugs, and Nigeria was awarded the gold.
But the rest of the American runners on that relay team -- including Pettigrew -- appealed the ruling and won, meaning they got to keep their gold and Nigeria had to settle for keeping the silver.
Now that Pettigrew has admitted that he was a cheater, it's hard to see how he can and his teammates can get to keep the gold that they won on that appeal. It's a strange thing about the Olympic Games that you never know if the results you're seeing are real, or if they'll be overturned years later. In the case of the 4x400 relay in 2000, it appears that Nigeria just won its gold medal, eight years after the starter's pistol sounded.