4 Jun

Lee Launches Attack On Athletics Chiefs

Lee McConnell

Double Olympian Lee McConnell has criticised athletics chiefs for allowing an American relay team that included a convicted drugs cheat to keep their Olympic gold medals. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) will jointly confirm a ruling that the USA won't be stripped of their 4x400 relay gold medals from the 2004 Athens Olympics despite team member Crystal Cox's subsequent ban for steroid use.

Crystal, who ran in the preliminary rounds of the event, will forfeit her medal and her results from that era have already been erased, but McConnell is still disappointed with the decision. It was expected that the USA would be disqualified, promoting Russia into first, Jamaica second and Britain third. McConnell was a member of the British relay team in Athens and will now be denied the bronze medal which would have completed her set at major championships.

The 34-year-old Glaswegian said: "It's disappointing because you'd like to think there would be a stronger stance taken on people taking drugs in the sport. It's the fact that it's such a light punishment on the team. There are rules that even if one person on a team is caught when the whole team gets stripped of their medals.

"The punishments just aren't tough enough The deterrents have to be strong, otherwise people will still have the incentive to use drugs. And teams shouldn't keep medals if one of them was cheating."

The IOC insist that responsibility lies with the IAAF. The world governing body declined to comment on the issue. UK athletics were said to be waiting for official clarification on the issue before deciding whether an appeal can be lodged.