Antonio Pettigrew steroidsAll is not lost for Antonio Pettigrew.

The 2000 Olympic gold medalist in men’s 4×400 meter relay will continue to coach student athletes at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The institution has decided to keep the disgraced Pettigrew as an assistant coach in men’s and women’s track and field.

Pettigrew lost his gold medal when he admitted in a federal court that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. He, along with his 2000 Olympic teammates, was officially disqualified by the International Olympic Committee on August 2 and was asked to return his gold medal. Pettigrew, however, had earlier volunteered to give up his medal in June.

Baddour says UNC has one of the most stringent anti-steroid policies in all of amateur sports and that Pettigrew, who had used drugs before coming to UNC, had never encouraged the use of banned substances by UNC athletes.

“I deeply appreciate the second chance the University of North Carolina is giving me,” Pettigrew said in a prepared statement. ” … I promise to work hard not only as track coach but as a person who will dedicate myself to teaching young men and women to make the right decisions and to know that there are no shortcuts when it comes to competition, training and integrity.”

Pettigrew appeared before a federal court in May this year when he was subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify in Trevor Graham’s steroid trial. Graham was a former coach of Pettigrew and other prominent track athletes, including Marion Jones and her former husband C.J. Hunter. Graham was subsequently found guilty of committing perjury to federal authorities during their investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame, California.

Pettigrew, who never failed a drug test, admitted in his testimony that he had used the blood booster erythropoietin and human growth hormone in the period before, during and after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Three of his teammates, however, had figured in doping violations before.

Twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison were suspended due to doping infringements. Jerome Young, another team member, was banned for life in 2004 from track and field for testing positive for banned compounds twice.

Pettigrew has been with the UNC coaching staff since 2006.

The BALCO incident is considered as the biggest steroid scandal in U.S. history. It involved preeminent Olympic and professional athletes, including star players of Major League Baseball and National Football League. This scandal prompted Congressional hearings on use of steroids and other banned substances in MLB. Several well-known sluggers were implicated, including Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds.

Legislators said the main motivation for the series of hearing was to stop the rising use of steroid use among young Americans.
“Kids are dying from the use of steroids. They’re looking up to these major league leaders in terms of the enhancements that they’re using. And we have to stop it,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif) in an interview on March 13, 2005 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”