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Raducan waits for justice

Pritha Sarkar | August 12, 2004 22:24 IST

Four years ago, Andreea Raducan lost her innocence and an Olympic gold medal. Now she wants justice.

In the space of just 48 hours at the Sydney Games, the Romanian gymnast's euphoria had turned into utter despair when she was stripped of the women's all-round gold medal after she tested positive for pseudo-ephedrine.

Andrea Raducan in AthensLast year the World Anti-Doping Agency removed pseudo-ephedrine from its list of banned substances and Raducan now wants her title reinstated.

"I was Olympic all-round champion and after 48 hours it was all finished. They took the medal away in Sydney and it was horrible, horrible," Raducan told Reuters in an interview.

"It was very hard for me because I didn't understand anything.

"I'm waiting for someone to say 'you can have your medal back'. I want my medal back. It's my dream to get my medal back and I'm going to wait till I get it again. This is important."

Raducan, who turns 21 next month, was just 16 when she led a Romanian medal sweep of the all-round competition.

But an over-the-counter cold remedy she had received from the Romanian team doctor destroyed 15 years of work Raducan had put towards winning that medal.

While it was widely acknowledged the stimulant provided no competitive advantage, Raducan still had to surrender the medal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). She was, however, allowed to keep the team gold and the individual vault silver.

"When I started my career I was four years old and I said I wanted to go to the Olympic Games and win," said Raducan, who is in Athens to commentate on the Games.

"I hope I can get it back. I want it back because an Olympic medal is very important and it's not so easy to win an Olympic medal."

A spokeswoman for the IOC said on Thursday Raducan would have to stand by the 2000 decision as pseudo-ephedrine was on the banned list during the Sydney Games.

Raducan feels hard done by, especially since athletes can be stripped of their medals months or even years after an event if a positive dope test comes to light at a later date.

She said the same policy should apply in reverse so that athletes can get back medals that were wrongfully taken away from them.

SPECIAL MOMENTS

"It's four years from Sydney but those moments are still special for me," Raducan said wistfully.

"I'm happy that everyone understood there was a problem and said to me, 'We know you're not guilty and you're still the champion'.

"I was the first gymnast who tested positive... but for what? We don't need drugs to do what we do. We don't run.

"In the international (gymnastics) federation list, there was never a problem with pseudo-ephedrine. It was only a problem with the IOC.

"I want to take the medal back because when I have children I can say what happened."

Dressed casually in a sleeveless red shirt bearing her name, the bubbly Raducan acknowledged her plight raised her profile higher than it would have been had she kept the medal.

She has used it to her advantage to carve out a career as a tour guide in her native Romania.

"I lost a medal but I (gained) many many fans, friends after the Games and everybody supported me which was good," she said.

"That is life, the good and not so good but it's my life and I don't have any regrets."


Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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