Jamaican Relay Team Loses 2008 Gold Medals with Dismissal of Doping Appeal

On May 31, 2018, in its Lausanne, Switzerland headquarters, the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided the appeal of doping allegations pinned against Olympic gold medalist Nesta Carter.  Carter competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics alongside teammate Usain Bolt and others in the Jamaican relay team, winning a gold medal. Immediately following the win, the International Olympic Committee took urine samples from the competitors in order to determine whether they had been in violation of any anti-doping rule at the time of their participation. Although no stimulants had been found in Carter’s sample at the initial testing, the Committee decided to take another look before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The re-testing presented a positive finding of methylhexaneamine (MHA), a supplemental substance known to increase energy levels.

In January 2017, the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Panel determined that the MHA finding constituted a violation of its anti-doping policies, disqualifying not only Carter, but his entire team, and required the return of their gold medals. The following month, in February 2017, Carter appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and arbitration processes commenced among a three-person panel. The Panel members, hailing from Israel, the United Kingdom, and Italy, held a hearing at the Lausanne headquarters in November 2017, where the parties were present. Following the hearing, the Panel reviewed the parties’ briefs and concluded that there was no alternative to a violation determination due to the presence of MHA in Carter’s sample.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport provided in its press release that the Panel “could not accept any of the arguments raised by Nesta Carter contending that the test results should be ignored or the IOC DP decision should otherwise be overturned for certain alleged failures.” Further, the inquiry and result were “strictly limited to the consequences related to the Beijing Games and issues linked with fault or negligence are not relevant since sanctions such as ineligibility or disqualification from other events were not at stake here.”

The 2008 gold medals will now pass to Trinidad and Tobago, the second place team, while Japan will move to silver and Brazil to bronze. Nevertheless, Bolt took to social media the day that the appeal was dismissed. “The rules are the rules but at the end of the day the joy of winning that relay gold Medal in Beijing 2008 with my teammates will last forever,” he remarked.

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