sydney-olympics-steroidsThe disqualification of the United States 1,600-meter relay team comes four years after the team’s victory at that Olympic event in Sydney. The International Olympic Committee officially issued the disqualification on Saturday after Antonio Pettigrew, a member of the said team, publicly admitted steroids and PEDs.

The entire team is required to give back its gold medals to the United State Olympic Committee which will be turned over to the IOC offices in Switzerland.

The New York Times reports:

The International Olympic Committee officially disqualified on Saturday sprinter Antonio Pettigrew and his entire United States 1,600-meter relay team from the 2000 Sydney Games because Pettigrew admitted using performance-enhancing drugs at those Olympics.

Pettigrew, who never failed a drug test, admitted in May to using the blood booster EPO and human growth hormone before, during and after the 2000 Olympics. He returned his medal in June.

His teammates — Michael Johnson, Angelo Taylor, Jerome Young and the twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison — will also lose their medals. Johnson, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in individual events, voluntarily gave up his relay gold medal in July.

“We fully support the action taken today by the I.O.C.,” Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the U.S.O.C, said. “Athletes must understand that if they make the choice to cheat, there will be consequences and those consequences can be severe.”

At a news conference on Saturday, Giselle Davies, spokeswoman for the I.OC., said the board would wait on that decision, so they could see if any more information comes out of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids case.

Some of Pettigrew’s teammates have already been swept up in doping scandals of their own.

Alvin and Calvin Harrison have both served suspensions from the sport for violating doping rules. Young was barred for life.

Antonio Pettigrew’s admission took place when he was subpoenaed to testify in the trial of his former coach Trevor Graham in May this year. Graham was subsequently found guilty of lying to federal investigators during their investigation stemming from the BALCO Affair.

In his testimony, Pettigrew admitted that he had used steroids and PEDs as far back as 1997.

His statements surprised many, including his co-winner Michael Johnson, since he was never tested positive for any banned compound.

Johnson had given up his gold medal right after Pettigrew’s testimony. He said he felt ‘betrayed’ with Pettigrew’s admission.

Pettigrew has been retired from the track since 2002.