Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong can keep his Olympic medal – for now. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to wait for the cycling governing body, the UCI, to inform the American before moving to strip him of the bronze he won at Sydney 2000.
USADA said he had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".
The UCI, however, is yet to formally notify Armstrong of its decision to annul all his results since August 1998. "The IOC must wait for the UCI to formally notify Mr Armstrong and then he will have three weeks to appeal to us," IOC president Jacques Rogge said. The IOC normally has an eight-year statute of limitations.
The legal impasse has caused consternation among members of the IOC executive board, who believe it is wrong for Armstrong to retain the medal.
However, other known doping offenders, particularly from East Germany in the 1970s, have been allowed to keep their medals and records because of the restrictions on retrospectivity. The IOC statute prohibits action being taken on doping cases which occurred more than eight years previously.
Ironically, Armstrong may not have gained any competitive advantage from the banned hormone EPO he was taking, experts have said. Researchers say there is no scientific evidence to show that the hormone enhances performance, but there is evidence which suggests using it in sport could place a user's health and life at risk.
Meanwhile, four Eastern European medallists from the 2004 Olympic Games have been stripped of their medals and banned by the IOC following last-gasp retesting of 105 stored samples.