FanDuel - WFBC

June 04, 2008

Johnson says he'll return medal: Olympic great Michael Johnson says he was "shocked" by former teammate Antonio Pettigrew's doping admission and will return the gold medal the two of them helped the United States win in the 1,600-meter relay at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

posted by BornIcon to other at 07:54 AM - 27 comments

My question is: Would you?

posted by BornIcon at 07:58 AM on June 04

Yes

posted by budman13 at 08:46 AM on June 04

If I had 4 other (individual) gold medals (including another one from the same Olympics), I'd probably give it back or at least think about it. If it was my only one, absolutely not. In the same vein as the latter, if there were other teammates who only had that one medal, I would probably keep it, as giving it back would likely pressure them to do the same.

posted by bender at 08:46 AM on June 04

If it was my only one, absolutely not. I totally agree with you, bender. If I had more than one gold medal then I wouldn't have a problem giving the 'tainted' one back at all but if that were my only gold medal, there is no way that I would give it back knowing that I didn't cheat and that I earned that medal. I know that sounds like a contradiction but does everyone realize how hard these athletes train in order to participate in the Olympics just to have someone take away what they work so hard for because their teammate(s) cheated?

posted by BornIcon at 09:28 AM on June 04

Man, this is tough one!On the one hand it was a TEAM event so even if he is/was the fastest man alive, there's no way he could have won that particular competition by himself. On the other hand, why should he be penalized since he didn't cheat. You would think that there should be some middle ground here. Here's another question... Why does he have to return the medal at all? I mean are they going to send it to the silver winners and will they then have to send theirs to the bronze? OR will they just make new ones anyway or say OH WELL!?! I say let them all run it again and see who wins!

posted by emancipated107 at 09:46 AM on June 04

Here's another question... Why does he have to return the medal at all? Michael Johnson took it upon himself to return the medal, no one asked for it back (although I'm sure that the IOC would've asked eventually). I applaud Johnson for doing this but even if the medals were given to the team that placed 2nd, how does anyone know that the 2nd place team didn't cheat as well?

posted by BornIcon at 10:02 AM on June 04

No. I would not return it. If I did nothing wrong, and I did not know of any wrong doing by my teammates (a big step to prove), then I have no reason to return the medal.

posted by grum@work at 10:15 AM on June 04

It's a team event and a member of the team cheated. The right and honorable thing to do is to give it back. I'm surprised the IOC didn't already negate the win and take away all four medals from the entire team. Cheating is becoming way too prevalent and acceptable. Maybe the only way to combat this cancer is to take away all the medals won by the entire track team. Make each participant aware that their actions affect everyone.

posted by Shotput at 10:26 AM on June 04

Having multiple medals makes it pretty easy for Johnson to take the high road on this. To me, whether or not he knew about the wrong doings of his teammates is of no importance. The team cheated, the team does not deserve the medals, end of story. In school related sports, teams that use ineligible players forfeit all wins in which the specific player partcipated. So, maybe Shotput is on the right track, get caught cheating and lose all medals won by the team.

posted by dviking at 11:02 AM on June 04

The responses so far illustrate the difference between the questions of "would you?" and "should you?" Logically and morally, whether a person does or does not have other medals is of no relevance to the decision to return or not to return the medal (that said, I agree that it is an easier decision because he has other medals). Nor is it relevant how hard anyone trains. Had the violations been discovered ahead of time (or before the medals were awarded), the entire team would have been disqualified. Johnson could not have one the medal on his own. I do not, however, agree with disqualifying everyone on the national team. The cheating by one guy who ran a leg on the 4x400 team had no relevance on the guy who ran the 10k or threw the hammer. Why not take away the basketball team's gold medal too (oh wait...nevermind)?

posted by zddoodah at 11:31 AM on June 04

If my victory is attained through cheating -- whether my own or someone on my team -- then it's not a victory and it doesn't deserve to be commended as such. I'd return the (slightly dented and gory from when I used it to beat my cheating teammate until he screamed like a little girl) medal.

posted by joaquim at 11:44 AM on June 04

I agree with bender. Johnson has more gold to celebrate his achievements, but from his statements, he sounds truly digusted with his team mates. What I would like to know is how he wasn't aware that everyone else was doping? As far as the IOC taking back the medals, just how would they go about that? The medals were given to the athletes. The IOC no longer owns them. Do athletes sign some sort of contract stating that the medals will be taken away if an investigation finds something hinky? Perhaps, as in Johnson's case, you can voluntarily relinquish your prize back to the IOC, but I find it hard to believe that jack-boots from the committee are going to come knock down his door and demand the return of the gold.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:47 AM on June 04

I applaud Johnson for his character in this matter. Yes, it was a team event, but it's tough to punish all for the crimes of one. I mean, when the dust settles, are Barry Bonds' teammates going to give back their world championship rings?cheap shot a quote from Johnson deeply disappointed in Antonio and in the sport of athletics furthermore, his favorite form of writing is literature, and he is fascinated by the governmental form of politics. Sorry, just having a bit of fun at his expense. I think he really took the high road here. I feel bad for him that the sense of disappointment he felt in the actions of a teammate compelled him to do what he did.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:24 PM on June 04

What I would like to know is how he wasn't aware that everyone else was doping? Johnson probably one of those individual that minds his own business and concerns himself with his own interests. Also, one of the track stars to be admired for his intregrity and sense of fair play.

posted by giveuptheghost at 01:12 PM on June 04

As far as the IOC taking back the medals, just how would they go about that? The medals were given to the athletes. The IOC no longer owns them. Do athletes sign some sort of contract stating that the medals will be taken away if an investigation finds something hinky? I've got the same question.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:57 PM on June 04

Johnson probably one of those individual that minds his own business and concerns himself with his own interests. Also, one of the track stars to be admired for his intregrity and sense of fair play. It would seem that it was in his best interest to concern himself with what his teammates were up to. But what I really want to know is how you could be unaware that you were the only person on your relay team not on "the stuff"? Not that it's beyond the realm of possibilities, it just seems very odd. I mind my own business, too, but I don't blind myself to the actions of those around me if said actions might negatively impact me. If I can help it.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:21 PM on June 04

the IOC taking back medals Who has the actual medal is immaterial. You take back the medal by wiping the team from the record books. You give no mention of their participation in the event whatsoever. You give the Gold to the Silver medalists, the Silver to the Bronze and the Bronze to the fourth place team. The Gold medals given to the cheaters have no value. It happened to Ben Johnson after his 100m dash Gold and the East German Women's Swim team when they found out that the 'Shemales' had Y chromosomes.

posted by Shotput at 05:06 PM on June 04

I mind my own business, too, but I don't blind myself to the actions of those around me if said actions might negatively impact me. If I can help it. "If I can help it", is the crux of the matter. Listen, everybody has been duped or short changed in their lifetime. Usually the reason we become more saavy as we get older is due to experiences throughout the years. Met people also that give benefit of doubt due to friendship or being teammates and been disappointed down the road.

posted by giveuptheghost at 06:48 PM on June 04

tahoemoj: I applaud Johnson for his character in this matter. Yes, it was a team event, but it's tough to punish all for the crimes of one. Eh. I don't think "punishment" is the correct lens to view this through. This is quite far from a third grade teacher keeping the whole class after school because one kid threw a spitball. This is a matter of a win that is already invalidated. Although Johnson was awarded the gold medal, he never truly had the victory, any more than he would have if Pettigrew had been on a bicycle.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:33 AM on June 05

But what I really want to know is how you could be unaware that you were the only person on your relay team not on "the stuff"? How does anyone know what another person does behind closed doors? In this day & age, it seems as if no athlete can perform well anymore because the better an athlete does, the more under the microscope they become. I sure miss the days when, let's say, a professional baseball player would hit a home run and everyone would be in awe of the distance that the ball would travel. Now, if the same player hits one out of the park with the same distance, people would assume that something shady is going on. Nothing is held as sacred in sports anymore and IMO, that's exactly what we're missing. The innocence of it all....or maybe I'm just being naive.

posted by BornIcon at 10:32 AM on June 05

There is a difference between not knowing what a person does behind closed doors, and being one person on a four man relay team, whom you train and travel with, spend a good deal of time in close proximity to, and with at least one of them, are best friends. You can call it naive, as Johnson does. Or if you're me, you call it being obtuse and willfully ignorant. It's not like we are talking about having no knowledge that a co-worker is a foot fetishist, or is a parrot-head and goes to Jimmy Buffett concerts dressed as a salt shaker. This is three athletes on a four man relay team that kept their use of performance enhancers from the one remaining member. Please forgive me if I seem skeptical.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:37 AM on June 05

Agreed, lbb. I wasn't necessarily addressing any of the potential "punishments." I was simply applauding the fact that Johnson basically faced the truth and handed the medal back, rather than pounding his fists and screaming about his innocence. Like the article said, there could have been a drawn out protest on his part, but he chose to keep what was left of that relay team's integrity. (I guess I am less skeptical than THX about his ignorance of his teammate's actions.)

posted by tahoemoj at 01:15 PM on June 05

Please forgive me if I seem skeptical. Your forgiven.

posted by giveuptheghost at 03:02 PM on June 05

Thanks ghost. For further explanation of my cynical and dour attitude about the world and all it's vile denizens, please see the Bavasi thread.

posted by THX-1138 at 04:01 PM on June 05

May be easy for him to do given the slew of other medals he has, but it's still the right answer. That victory is no longer his or any of his teammates. so even if he is/was the fastest man alive, there's no way he could have won that particular competition by himself. Not the fastest man in the world. Not then. Sorry if I'm being petty (and that wasn't what you were alluding too), but that one really stuck in the ol' craw. The only case in Olympic History where NBC started crowning the winner of the 200m as "fastest". Pissed me off then. Pisses me off now.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:09 PM on June 05

a quote from Johnson deeply disappointed in Antonio and in the sport of athletics furthermore, his favorite form of writing is literature, and he is fascinated by the governmental form of politics. That's the IOC's traditional name for "track and field" On topic: He did the right thing. Which is also, frequently, the difficult thing.

posted by Uncle Toby at 12:55 PM on June 06

Mea Culpa. I've never heard anyone else refer to it that way, so I had no idea. I'm just going to head to the boys' room now and wash a little egg off my face!

posted by tahoemoj at 04:30 PM on June 06

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