A decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to re-award the medals from the women's 4x400 metres at the 2004 Games in Athens has caused surprise among senior officials at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The IOC's ruling Executive Board last week claimed they were awaiting "clarification" from athletics' world governing body over whether to disqualify the United States team despite one of the squad, Crystal Cox, admitting afterwards she took steroids from from 2001.

The IOC have alrady disqualified Cox, who was one of several athletes who have admitted using banned performance-enhancing drugs as part of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) conspiracy.

But IOC claim it was not clear whether the current rules which mean an entire relay team can be disqualified because of the doping of one member were in place at the time.

The IOC vice-president Thomas Bach repeated that position at the annual 124th Session here today.

But the IAAF claim they are mystifyed because they published more than two years ago that the team had been disqualified after Cox accepted a four-year ban.

The IAAF disqualified the US team, even though Cox only ran in the heat, under rule 39.2 and decided that the gold medal should be reallocated to Russia with Jamaica moving from bronze to silver and Britain being upgraded to the bronze.

"The IAAF position is that the team is disqualified – and note the date of the decision," Nick Davies, the deputy general secretary of the IAAF, told insidethegames.

"We have no reason to review that decision."

Mark Adams, the IOC spokesman, claimed he was not aware of them having received any notification from the IAAF about the US being disqualified but promised that they would check so "we can deal with the matter swiftly".

Yet, adding to the confusion surrounding the status of the race, is that the IAAF have not amended the result on their own website or even indicated that it is under review.

Cox, meanwhile, has claimed she has spoken to the athletes who stand to lose their gold medal - Deedee Trotter, Monique Henderson, Sanya Richards and Monique Hennagan - about the situtation.

"It's a sad situation, but my thing is, the truth will come out eventually," she said in an interview published in her local newspaper, the Fay Observer.

"Life goes on.

"I've held my head high ever since [I was banned].

"Being able to walk away from the sport with my head held high, I have no animosity toward it because I know I was one of the good athletes.

"I played by the rules and did what they wanted me to do.

"I'm still introduced as a 2004 Olympic gold medalist.

"Once an Olympian, always an Olympian."

By Duncan Mackay at the Grosvenor House in London

Source: www.insidethegames.biz