Olympic leaders reallocated two individual medals stripped from Marion Jones because of doping on Wednesday, but withheld the 100-meter gold from Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou because of her “disgraceful” behavior in evading drug tests.
Nine years after the Sydney Games, the International Olympic Committee executive board awarded Jones' gold in the 200 meters and bronze in the long jump to the next place finishers, but denied Thanou the 100 gold because she was at the center of her own drug scandal in 2004.
Thanou never tested positive and was not linked to doping in Sydney, but was accused along with fellow Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris of evading tests at the Athens Olympics and faking a motorcycle crash as a cover-up.
The decision means the gold medal in sprinting's marquee event will remain vacant.
“It was disgraceful behavior by her and this is a unique situation,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “The IOC feels we have a strong moral and a good legal case for that.”
While the race results and rankings are up to the International Association of Athletics Federations, the IOC controls the Olympic medals. Thanou's lawyers have indicated they could sue or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if she isn't awarded the gold.
“The actual awarding of a gold medal is not a right,” Adams said. “Therefore, in this case it will not happen. It's felt that by her conduct she didn't deserve to be honored with this recognition.”
Adams said it's believed to be the first time the IOC has chosen not to award a gold medal.
“We have a sound legal basis,” Adams said. “We are not legally bound to give medals. This is a case of taking no action. We have decided not to give her an honor that we don't think she deserves.”
Thanou and Kenteris missed drug tests on the eve of the Athens opening ceremony, claiming they were injured in a motorcycle accident and spent several days in a hospital. They pulled out of the games and were later banned for two years by the IAAF.
Thanou and Kenteris — the men's 200-meter winner in Sydney — are still awaiting trial in Greece on misdemeanor charges of staging the crash.
The IOC barred Thanou from last year's Beijing Games, saying she caused a “scandalous saga” in Athens that brought the Olympics into disrepute.
“You must remember the circumstances surrounding Thanou in 2004,” Adams said. “She disgraced herself and the Olympic movement by avoiding three doping tests and, according to Greek authorities, she faked a motorcycle accident … and she admitted anti-doping rules violations when she accepted a two-year ban from the IAAF.”
Tanya Lawrence of Jamaica, who finished third in the 100 in Sydney, will move up to second and become the duplicate silver medalist with Thanou. Merlene Ottey, who competed for Jamaica but is now a Slovenian citizen, goes from fourth to third and will get her sixth career bronze medal to go with two silvers in seven Olympics.
Pauline Davis-Thompson of the Bahamas is promoted from silver to gold in the 200, with Sri Lanka's Susanthika Jayasinghe moving up from bronze to silver and Jamaica's Beverly McDonald from fourth to third.
Russia's Tatyana Kotova is upgraded from fourth to bronze in the long jump.
Jones had long denied doping, but admitted in 2007 that she used steroids at the time of the Sydney Games, where she became the first woman to win five medals at a single Olympics.
She served a six-month prison sentence last year for lying about doping and her role in a check-fraud scam.
The IOC stripped Jones of her five medals, which also included gold in the 4×400 relay and bronze in the 4×100 relay, in December 2007.
Still undecided is the fate of the medals held by Jones' relay teammates.
The IOC stripped those medals in April 2008 but the relay runners appealed to CAS, arguing it was wrong to punish them for Jones' violations. CAS is due to release its verdict by Dec. 18, and the IOC will wait until then before making a decision.