Washington — An American track and field athlete who tested positive for steroids was allowed to compete in the Sydney Olympics after U.S. officials failed to follow proper procedures, according to a report released Wednesday.
The heavily critical report, by an independent commission created after doping controversies at the 2000 Games, also cited USA Track & Field for not following international guidelines and for lax enforcement of its own rules.
"The commission found no evidence that anyone at USATF 'covered up' any positive drug tests. ... The commission also concluded, however, that USATF did not utilize certain of its own procedures for assuring that no doping cases were ignored or suppressed," the Independent International Review Commission reported.
The report came on the same day that organizers of next year's Salt Lake City Games went on the doping offensive, proposing that every athlete be tested before being allowed to compete at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
In a groundbreaking move, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee told the International Olympic Committee in Moscow that it was asking Congress for $1 million to finance out-of-competition drug tests for up to 1,000 athletes.
"We want to assure all athletes of a level playing field and make sure that the cheaters have been caught," SLOC president Mitt Romney said. "This is a monumental goal that I feel would change the face of the Olympic Games."
At the Sydney Games, the problem wasn't a lack of testing, but a failure by USATF to follow rules, according to the commission's report.
The report cited the example of 1999 world shot put champion C.J. Hunter, who was allowed to arrive at the Olympics as an accredited athlete even though he had been suspended after several positive tests for steroids. Hunter's suspension was revealed during the games and he did not compete, but the episode was an international embarrassment for U.S. Olympic officials.
The report said another U.S. athlete, whom it refused to name, did compete after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. The athlete was cleared on appeal before the 2000 Olympic trials, but the USATF failed to turn over the athlete's name or sufficient details about the case to the sport's international governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
The IAAF frequently has overturned doping rulings by national federations.