US relay teams urged to hand back medals

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MIAMI, Oct 9 (Reuters) The United States has urged its 2000 Olympic women's relay teams to hand back their medals after one of the members, Marion Jones, confessed to steroid use.

''We do not think that the relay medals were won fairly and we urge the athletes to return their medals,'' said United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chairman Peter Ueberroth in a teleconference yesterday.

Ueberroth said USOC did not have the power to force the athletes to return the medals because the issue was within the sole jurisdiction of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

''We don't have jurisdiction in that matter. If we did, we would be on the side of returning the medals,'' said Ueberroth.

The US won gold in the 4x400 metres relay at the Sydney Games ahead of Jamaica, with Russia third and Nigeria fourth.

In addition to Jones, the team included Jearl Miles-Clark, Monique Hennagan and LaTash Colander.

Jones also helped the U.S win bronze in the 4x100 relay, behind Bahamas and Jamaica and ahead of France. Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards and Nanceen Perry were the other members of the team.

Asked what his message would be to Jones's relay team mates Ueberroth said: ''It is very unfortunate but your result involved cheating and so you are not entitled to those medals.'' Gaines served a two year ban due to her involvement in the BALCO clinic case which has rocked U.S sport and led to Jones's downfall.

Edwards was also banned for use of the banned stimulant nikethamide in 2004 and served 15 months of her two-year suspension before the substance was downgraded by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Yersterday Jones returned her five medals from the 2000 Games, which included three gold medals.

REUTERS TB AS0718

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