ESPN Network: | | | NASCAR | | | ABCSports | EXPN | FANTASY | INSIDER

 Track & Field
 More Sports   

 Message Board

Schedule | Fan Guide | History | U.S. Roster   
Tuesday, September 26
Raducan tests positive for stimulant

SYDNEY, Australia -- This isn't a sinister case of an athlete pumping herself full of steroids or human growth hormone. Andreea Raducan isn't Ben Johnson. At 4-foot-10 and 82 pounds, her slight body is hardly bulging with muscles.

Andreea Raducan
Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan's first test sample came back positive for stimulants.

She had a fever and a cold. She wanted to feel better. So the Romanian team doctor gave her Nurofen, an over-the-counter medication for colds and flu that anyone can walk into a pharmacy and buy.

She swallowed two little pills, and now she has one gold medal instead of two.

The 16-year-old was stripped of her gold from the women's all-around Tuesday after she tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a banned stimulant. She is the first gymnast ever to be stripped of a medal because of a drug violation, and Romanian Olympic Committee president Ion Tiriac said he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Romanian team doctor who gave Raducan the drug was expelled from the games and suspended through the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake and 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

"We feel we have no choice," said Francois Carrard, the International Olympic Committee's director general. "It's tough, but that's what it's all about. In the fight against doping, we have to be tough and be blind to emotions and feelings."

Raducan was allowed to keep her gold from the team competition and silver in the vault final. But losing the all-around gold was crushing for the wispy teen, whose dark coloring and pixieish charm evoked memories of Nadia Comaneci, Romania's last Olympic darling.

"I think she's probably devastated right now. She's 16. She doesn't know what's happening," said Comaneci, who now runs a gym in Norman, Okla., with her husband, 1984 Olympian Bart Conner. "She's a victim of a mistake of the doctor. It's not the fault of the girl's."

Even the IOC acknowledged that Raducan's case is not like most others. She took a common cold medicine, and it provided "no competitive advantage at that competition," Carrard said. The International Gymnastics Federation unanimously decided not to punish Raducan further, saying in a statement that taking her medal "was punishment enough for an athlete who was innocent in this situation."

Raducan's gold ended up with teammate Simona Amanar, whose silver went to yet another Romanian, Maria Olaru.

Liu Xuan of China, who now wins the bronze medal in the all-around, couldn't make sense of what occurred.

"I thought this was impossible because in gymnastics, we rely on technique to complete our moves," Li said. "It's not possible to rely on drugs or strength to complete them. You have to rely entirely on skill. So I just didn't think it was possible."

Romania has waited 24 years for a gymnast who could captivate the world like Comaneci, who scored the first perfect 10 at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

The Romanians have won dozens of Olympic medals since then, but could never capture the all-around, the biggest prize on sport's grandest stage.

Until Raducan.

Performing to "Riverdance" on Thursday, Raducan pranced across the floor, a wide, infectious smile on her face. She looked almost like Peter Pan as she tumbled, flying across the floor with ease. When she finished, she ran to coach Octavian Belu and climbed onto his shoulders, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.

It wasn't just her presence on the floor that charmed fans. Raducan, who turns 17 on Saturday, has a wonderful, childlike naivete. When she came into the news conference after winning the all-around, she perched at the edge of Olaru's chair instead of taking the seat reserved for her at the middle of the table.

Told the place of honor was hers, the gold medalist said she thought it was for her coach.

"It's like having a dream, a nice dream," Raducan said then. "I still feel like I'm in this dream."

That feeling didn't last long.

All medalists are tested for drugs, and Raducan's sample after the all-around came back positive. The level of drug in her urine was 90 nanograms per milliliter, more than three times greater than the 24 nanograms per milliliter allowed by the IOC.

She also was tested after winning a silver in the vault Sunday. That sample was negative. She was not tested after the team competition Sept. 19.

Whether the doctor, Ioachim Oana, knew he'd prescribed something that included a banned substance isn't certain. The Romanians aren't talking.

But when Oana filled out the form detailing medications Raducan was taking, he included the cold medicine.

"She wasn't taking this to try to enhance her performance," said Paul Ziert, who was Conner's coach and now the publisher of International Gymnast magazine. "She was trying to make herself healthy so she could perform at a normal level, which she did."

The gymnastics federation imposed additional sanctions on Oana, barring him from participating in the European championships and any FIG-sponsored international events for the next four years.

The Romanians were notified of Raducan's positive test Monday. She was allowed to compete in the event finals that day, but didn't have her usual spark.

On the floor exercise, where she's the reigning world champion, she stumbled out of a tumbling pass, almost falling on a move she usually lands with precision. She finished seventh out of eight competitors.

Afterward, a teary-eyed Raducan appeared before the IOC's medical commission.

"We consider it was an accident," said Prince Alexandre de Merode, the IOC drug chief. "She is not directly responsible. The fault falls with the medical doctor. But we have rules and we have to apply the rules."

Raducan is the fourth athlete to be stripped of a medal because of drugs. Three Bulgarian weightlifters lost their medals, including Izabela Dragneva, the gold medalist in the women's 105-pound event.

In addition, two other non-medalists, a hammer thrower from Belarus and a rower from Latvia, were expelled after positive drug tests.

This isn't the first drug controversy for the Romanian team in Sydney. Two weightlifters were expelled for failing pre-game, out-of-competition tests. The entire weightlifting team faced being kicked out, but paid a $50,000 fine to allow the "clean" weightlifters to stay.


Report: Romania protests Raducan ruling by returning other medals

Romanians sweep women's all-around gymnastics

American women gymnasts put on show, but can't join medalists Help | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map | Jobs at
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.
Archery Rowing
Badminton Sailing
Canoe/Kayak Shooting
Cycling Synchronized Swimming
Equestrian Table Tennis
Fencing Tennis
Field Hockey Triathlon
Handball Water Polo
Judo/Taekwondo Weightlifting
Modern Pentathlon Wrestling