Should the Teammates of Athletes Who Are Found Guilty of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs in the Olympics Also Return Their Medals?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in its Apr. 2016 document "The International Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Rules Applicable to the Olympic Games Rio 2016," published at olympic.org, stated the following:

"An anti-doping rule violation occurring during or in connection with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 may, upon the decision of the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport] Anti-Doping Division, lead to Disqualification of all of the Athlete's individual results obtained in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 (or in one or more Events or Competitions) with all Consequences, including forfeiture of all medals, points and prizes...

If more than one member of a team in a Team Sport is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation during the Period of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the CAS Anti-Doping Division may impose an appropriate sanction on the team (e.g., loss of points, Disqualification from a Competition, Event or the Olympic Games Rio 2016, or other sanction)...

If one or more members of a team in a sport which is not a Team Sport but where awards are given to teams, is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation during the Period of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the CAS Anti-Doping Division may impose appropriate consequences on the team (e.g., loss of points, Disqualification from a Competition, Event or the Olympic Games Rio 2016, or other sanction)."

Apr. 2016 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
The International Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Rules Applicable to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 (279KB)  



PRO (yes)

Justin Gatlin, a professional sprinter who lost the 4x100m relay silver medal he won at the London Olympics after his teammate Tyson Gay tested positive for banned substances, stated the following on May 15, 2015 as reported in an article titled "U.S. Olympic Sprinter -- I Forgive My Cheating Teammate Even Though They Took My Medal," at tmz.com:

"The rules are the rules... and if the committee says we have to return it -- I'm going to follow the rules. I honestly don't mind giving it back if it wasn't won fairly."

May 15, 2015 - Justin Gatlin 



Gary Hall Jr., three-time Olympic swimmer and 10-time Olympic medalist, in his Aug. 2, 2008 Los Angeles Times online sports article "A Few Choice Words for Athletes," wrote:

"Michael Johnson, a legend in the sport of track and field, will lose his gold medal along with other clean members of the relay.

Good. That may sound callous. Allow me to explain why this is the best move that the IOC [International Olympic Committee] could have made. It comes down to a word or two...

Accountability. Accountability is taking responsibility for your own actions. In sports, when you are a member of a team, accountability is something more. Athletes need to be accountable to their teammates...

Commitment is another word that takes on deeper meaning in sport. Commitment to the team is important. Commitment to clean sport is more important.

In this decision the IOC has done more to collar the cheats in sport than any anti-doping agency could hope to achieve. They sent a message to all clean athletes that doping will not be tolerated, and the people with the most to lose are the clean athletes, not the cheaters.

Cheaters only risk the truth being known. Clean athletes will have their dream ripped away from them for simply standing alongside a guilty teammate.

That's cruel. Is it cruel enough for clean athletes to stand up and take action against dopers, teammate or not? Let's hope so...

Teammates and coaches can put pressure on the dopers in a way that the anti-doping agency never will be able to. What a cheater might be able to conceal from the anti-doping agency, despite its best efforts, will be much more difficult to keep from coaches and teammates."

Aug. 2, 2008 - Gary Hall, Jr. 



Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medal sprinter and former relay teammate of Jerome Young and Antonio Pettigrew during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, in the June 3, 2008 USA Today article "Michael Johnson: Why Drugs Cheat Shamed Me Into Handing Back Olympic Relay Gold Medal," wrote:

"As for the gold medal I won with Antonio, and Alvin and Calvin Harrison, who have all admitted to or have tested positive for drugs since 2000 when we won the medal, I'm sure that there will be calls for us to give it back. I'm not sure what will happen with that effort, but I know that the medal was not fairly won and that it is dirty, and so I have moved it from the location where I have always kept my medals because it doesn't belong there. And it doesn't belong to me. So, as difficult as it is, I will be returning it to the International Olympic Committee because I don't want it. I feel cheated, betrayed and let down."

June 3, 2008 - Michael Johnson 



Rick Telander, Senior Sports Columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, in his Oct. 12, 2007 Chicago Sun Times article "Track Down Real Winners," wrote:

"And that Passion Richardson, one of her [Marion Jones'] 400-meter relay teammates in the 2000 Sydney Games, has said she wants to keep the bronze medal from that relay because 'I competed fairly' is irrelevant and nonsensical.

Not just Jones but two other members of the relay team -- Chryste Gaines and Tori Edwards -- have been nailed for doping.

Where would Richardson have finished with a clean team?

You are who you run with."

Oct. 12, 2007 - Rick Telander 



The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in a statement from its spokesperson Giselle Davies, as quoted in the Apr. 10, 2008 BBC online article "Jones's Team-mates Lose Medals," stated:

"The decision [to strip Marion Jones' 2000 Sydney Olympic Games relay teammates of their medals] was based on the fact that they were part of a team, that Marion Jones was disqualified from the Sydney Games due to her own admission that she was doping during those games...She was part of a team and she competed with them in the finals."

Apr. 10, 2008 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) 



Jim Scherr, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), was quoted in the May 23, 2008 New York Times article "Pettigrew Admits to Doping, Jeopardizing Relay Gold Medals" by Duff Wilson, as having stated:

"If an athlete who ran in the finals knowingly and purposely engaged in cheating, the medals won by the entire team are tarnished and, in our view, should be returned."

May 23, 2008 - Jim Scherr, MBA 



CON (no)

Phil Taylor, MA, Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated, in his Oct. 10, 2007 article "Collateral Damage: Jones's Lies Shouldn't Wipe Away Her Teammates' Work" on SI.com, wrote:

"They are collateral damage, innocent (at least as far as we know) bystanders hit by the fallout from Marion Jones's bombshell. Their names are Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan, La Tasha Colander-Richardson, Andrea Anderson, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson. They are the track stars who had the misfortune of being Jones's relay teammates during the 2000 Olympics, the Olympics in which Jones now admits that she competed with the help of performance-enhancing drugs...

Strike the names of Jones and her teammates from the Olympic record books. That's necessary and unavoidable because of the way they got there. But as for the medals, leave them in the hands of the women who put in years of clean, honest work in pursuit of them. Jones's teammates deserve to keep what they have earned. It's only fair, when they have had so much more taken from them."

Oct. 10, 2007 - Phil Taylor, MA 



Fred Bowen, JD, attorney at the US Department of Labor and KidsPost's Sports Columnist for the Washington Post, in his Apr. 18, 2008 Washington Post article "Who's Cheating Whom?," wrote:

"The [Marion] Jones situation reminds me of when a few kids act up in class and the teacher cancels recess for everyone. Or when a high school team has to forfeit all of the games it won because one player flunked a class and was ineligible to play...

I understand that sports officials, including those who run the Olympics, need strict rules against cheating. But is it fair to punish everyone on a team because one person makes a mistake?

If her teammates had known Jones was cheating, they probably would have wanted to replace her to make sure they weren't disqualified. But if they simply suspected she might be using illegal drugs -- as some people thought -- what could they have done?...

I think the best solution would be to allow Jones's teammates to keep their medals but award new medals to the other teams -- medals they would have won if Jones's teams hadn't competed."

Apr. 18, 2008 - Fred Bowen, JD 



Passion Richardson, 2000 Sydney Olympic Games bronze medal relay sprinter and then teammate of Marion Jones, in her Oct. 10, 2007 interview on the CBS Early Show with Hannah Storm, stated [as transcribed by ProCon.org]:

"I competed fairly. I should not have to suffer the consequences for someone else's bad decisions and choices…I don't believe that I should have to give back my medal. But at the same time…unfortunately, there was some cheating going on. So I completely understand that they [the competitors] feel they deserve the medal as well... So what do you really do... [Y]ou don't know what was going on on the other teams, so how do you really rectify that situation. There's really no positive outcome in either way that it goes."

Oct. 10, 2007 - Passion Richardson 



Chryste Gaines, MBA, Olympic gold and bronze medal sprinter and former teammate of Marion Jones in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, was quoted in the Dec. 15, 2007 article "Gaines Continues Struggle to Come Back," posted on the Universal Sports website, as having stated:

"I'm not considering giving anything back...

If the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federation] or IOC [International Olympic Committee] contacts me, I still will not give it [the medal] back. It's not fair to us who didn't do anything."

[Editor's Note: In a Dec. 22, 2008 email to ProCon.org, Chryste Gaines provided additional details to her above "Con" statement:

"We are being unfairly punished. If the drug testing agencies cannot determine if an athlete is taking performance enhancing drugs how are the teammates supposed to know? The whole battle should be a moot point because the men's 4 x 400 relay team fought the same battle over the Jerome Young allegations and there were no rules in place that said if one teammate tests positive that everyone gets disqualified. The IOC added that statement after the Jerome Young verdict which still shouldn't affect us because that was 5 years after the Sydney Games. Here we are 8 years later still fighting a battle that the statute of limitations has been expired on. Does it make sense? No? Will it clean up the sport? No.

What good is it other than to get Marion Jones back in the spotlight after her jail sentence and give her material to base a second book on. What does that do for the innocent athletes that competed with her? Nothing! Do we gain anything for our hard work, sacrifice and perseverance? No! It negates all the family functions, church functions, and social events we missed in the name of winning an Olympic medal."]

Dec. 15, 2007 - Chryste Gaines, MBA 



LaTasha Colander-Clark, 2000 Sydney Olympic Games gold medal relay sprinter and then teammate of Marion Jones, was quoted in the Apr. 18, 2008 ESPN online sports article "Marion Jones' Relay Teammates Not About to Surrender Medals," as having stated:

"I don't want [this to be] about Marion...I want people to know there are still innocent athletes out there today. It's a part of my destiny...

We're fighting for our legacy. We're fighting to be remembered. We trained and we busted our butts and we did good. We did it the way it should be done.

We still should be remembered as champions."

Apr. 18, 2008 - LaTasha Colander-Clark 



Jim Scherr, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), was quoted in the Oct. 20, 2004 ESPN online sports article "USOC to Challenge Rescinding of Medals" by the Associate Press, as having stated:

"We definitely want to protect the medals for the rest of the relay team...Jerome [Young] ran in a preliminary, the contest was not decided in that preliminary race. We think they earned those medals in the final."

[Editor's Note: In the 2004 case of Jerome Young's disqualification for using performance enhancing drugs, Jim Scherr opposed the position that Young's 2000 Sydney Olympic Games 4x400m relay teammates should return their medals because Young only ran in a preliminary race. However, in 2008, Scherr supported the position that the same teammates should return their medals because another member of the team Antonio Pettigrew admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, and Pettigrew ran in the final race that earned the team the gold medal.]

Oct. 20, 2004 - Jim Scherr, MBA