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Victory And Defeat For U.S. Teams

Athletic prowess seemed to compete with the Olympics' seamy subplot—doping—in Sydney Tuesday.

Sixteen-year-old Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan was stripped of her all-around gold Tuesday (Monday night EDT) after testing positive for pseudoephidrene, the International Olympic Committee said. The Nadia Comaneci look-alike apparently ingested the drug in cold medicine.

The team doctor who gave Raducan the cold medicine was expelled from the games and suspended for the next two Olympics—2002 in Salt Lake and 2004 in Athens.

One day earlier, the report of a positive drug test for U.S. gold medalist Marion Jones' husband, C.J. Hunter, dominated the Olympic news.

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As the second week of competition continued, America remained atop the medal table with 58 (23 golds, 14 silvers and 21 bronze), ahead of China's 48 (21-14-13) and Russia's 47 (14-14-19).

  • TRACK: After a day dominated by drug stories, U.S. track star Michael Johnson -- sporting a pair of gold track shoes -- needed just 43.84 seconds to return all the attention to Australia's Olympic Stadium.

    He became the first man ever to win the 400 in consecutive Olympics, and took a leisurely victory lap following his Olympic farewell. The 33-year-old Johnson has won four Olympic and nine world championship medals, all gold.

    Teammate Alvin Harrison took the silver.

    Just 15 minutes earlier, Australian Cathy Freeman captured the women's 400—a victory that brought the crowd of 110,000 to its feet and left the Aborigine runner in near-shock, kneeling silently on the track.

    Drained and overwhelmed with the excitement of victory and the relief of expectations fulfilled, Freeman removed her shoes and took a victory lap in bare feet. Ten days earlier, she had lit the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony.

    Her gold helped boost Australia's medal count to 43—12 gold, 20 silver, 11 bronze—its highest Olympic haul ever.

    In the men's 10,000 run, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia repeated as gold medalist with a late kick.

    In the Olympic debut of the women's pole vault, Stacy Dragila sailed 15 feet, 1 inch to claim the first gold. She failed at three attempts to break her own world record. Tatiana Grigorieva of Australia won the silver and Vala Flofadottir of Iceland the bronze.

  • SOFTBALL: It took twice as much effort for the U.S. team to make the gold medal game, as the American women swept a day-night doubleheader against two teams that had earlier defeated them in Sydney.

    To make the gold medal game against Japan, Lisa Fernandez struck out 13 in shutting out Australia 1-0. Dot Richardson's fifth-inning single scored the only run of the game as the Atlanta gold medalists took a huge stride toward defending the title.

    Beating Japan would be sweet revenge, giving the Americans victories over all three teams that beat them in the preliminary round. In the first gme Monday, the U.S. team beat China 3-0.

  • DRUG TESTS: It was the biggest question of the Sydney Olympics: How will this affect Marion?

    "This" was the report of a positive test for steroids by U.S. gold medalist Marion Jones' husband and coach, world champion shot putter C.J. Hunter. He could now face a two-year suspension—news that came just two days before Jones resumes her quest for five Sydney gold medals.

    Hunter denied the charge, but the report caused a tremendous hullaballoo on the busiest day of Olympic track.

    "I think it's very sad," said Kim Batten, the 1996 silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles. "I hope it doesn't affect Marion. It's tough no matter how you look at it for her."

    Despite the news, the U.S. Olympic Committee said Hunter would receive support- staff credentials and tickets that would let him stay with Jones in training and at the Olympic Stadium.

    "We don't want to do anything that will upset Marion's emotional support," USOC spokesman Mike Moran said.

  • MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: The U.S. team heads home from Sydney with a perfect record of ineptitude. The volleyballers ended their Olympic experience with five losses in five games, the last one Monday to Italy by scores of 21-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18.
  • WRESTLING: Maybe Matt Lindland was right: Maybe wrestling really is the easy part.

    Lindland spent all summer in courts and hearings, going all the way to the Supreme Court in getting his loss in the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman trials reversed. He made it to Sydney, but was given little chance of doing well.

    Now, he will wrestle for the gold medal Tuesday at 167and a half pounds. Just as he said he would, even if his trials and tribulations in canceling his trials loss in Dallas to Keith Sieracki agitated some U.S. teammates, who felt the result on the mats should stand.

    The 30-year-old Lindland never wavered, saying he was determined that he was right and that he was ready to win a medal.

    "I think I'll be wrestling for the gold," he said.

    Indeed, he will. Despite not placing in last year's world championships, Lindland followed a familiar scenario to reach the gold-medal match: Wrestle a debated match on the mat, then win the appeals process that follows.

    Lindland, who lives in Lincoln, Neb., rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat David Manukyan of the Ukraine 7-4 Monday in the semifinals for his fourth victory in two days.

    Lindland can win the United States' first gold medal in Greco-Roman since the boycotted Los Angeles Games in 1984.

  • MEN'S BASKETBALL: Just when it seemed there could be nothing more amazing than Vince Carter's latest dunk, Canada came up with a topper.

    Pulling off the biggest upset of the men's basketball tournament, Canada shocked previously undefeated Yugoslavia on the final night of preliminary round play Monday to win Group B.

    Stev Nash had the game of his life for Canada, accumulating 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He scored or assisted on 18 of Canada's final 21 points.

    It was the type of spectacular all-around performance that may have matched Carter's latest feat leaping over 7-foot-2 center Frederic Weis for an incredible dunk that spurred the U.S. team to a 106-94 victory over France.

    The Americans will play Russia in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Other quarterfinal matchups are Italy-Australia, Canada-France and Yugoslavia-Lithuania.

    The semifinals are Friday and the gold medal game is Sunday.