The world of gymnastics is familiar with gymnasts not winning medals due to rules that can feel unfair. Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking situations was at the 2000 Olympics. Andreea Raducan failed a drug test after taking cold medicine provided by her doctor, and was subsequently stripped of her all-around gold medal. It was clear at the time that Raducan did not know that the cold medicine contained a banned substance.
Raducan took two pills that contain the common cold medicine, pseudoephedrineone. Many people use this regularly for allergies and sinus infections. The same dosage can show up with very different results in each person’s urine, as there is a wide spread in how it is processed the body. Raducan failed the drug test, and was stripped of her gold medal. Unlike other situations, she was able to keep her other medals and continue competing. And the fall out went beyond Raducan. The team doctor was banned for a number of years, and Ion Ţiriac, the president of the Romanian Olympic Committee, resigned.
To add insult to injury, from 2004 to 2010, the substance was removed from the banned list. So last year, Raducan began her quest to have the decision reversed. She approached International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to reconsider the decision. Last week, Raducan travelled to Lausanne to meet with Bach at the IOC headquarters.
Though she was met with sympathy, they chose to uphold the original decision. “This decision was very tough for Andreea and was not easily taken by the IOC at the time,” Bach said, according to ESPN. “It shows how strict our anti-doping rules are by having to apply the principle of strict liability of the athlete. On the other hand, I feel a great deal of sympathy for her because she has to suffer from a mistake by her team doctor. Even more so because this happened at the age of 16, when as an athlete you have absolute confidence in your medical team.”
Such is sport, where sometimes rules must be upheld despite the circumstances surrounding the situation. And in a world where athletes use drugs to win, a spunky 16-year-old who won all of our hearts loses out.