Tuesday, October 9, 2007

La Tasha Colander-Richardson - From Beloved Army Wife to Target of Ueberroth's Wrath

Since this blog is now getting hits from people interested in La Tasha Colander-Richardson, perhaps it's fitting that I quote from an article that ran in the American Forces Press Service in October 2000, right after the Sydney Olympics.

La Tasha Colander-Richardson anchored the U.S. women to victory in the 4x400-meter relay event Sept. 30 to close the ring on the Games for Army wives....

"I must say that this is sweet!" beamed Colander-Richardson, who was clocked with Team USA's second-fastest leg of 50.68 seconds....

That sweetness more than compensated for Colander-Richardson's disappointment after failing to advance past the second round of the women's 400 meters.

"I had to let go of the 400," explained Colander-Richardson, 24, a native of Portsmouth, Va., who lives in Angier, N.C., just outside Fort Bragg. "I couldn't dwell on it. I had to get ready for the four-by-four. So I just said to myself: 'Look, that's over. It's time to focus on the four-by-four.'

"I knew we still had an opportunity to go for the gold, so that's what I did. I put all my energy into the four-by-four. So it was a good thing that I just let it go."

La Tasha's husband, 2nd Lt. Roderick Richardson, is a member of Battery B, 1/377th Field Artillery, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Unfortunately, it's hard to read the rest of the article, which dwells upon Marion Jones'...um...extraordinary performance in that relay.

And, in more modern news, Peter Ueberroth has spoken:

Font Size: Decrease Increase Print Page: Print From correspondents in Los Angeles | October 09, 2007
THE US Olympic Committee has ordered the American teammates of drug cheat Marion Jones to hand over the relay medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"Your results involved cheating so you are not entitled to the medals," Peter Uebberroth, the chairman of USOC, said.

The request comes in the wake of disgraced US sprinter Jones's admission last week that she used steroids....

The other American athletes who are being asked to return their relay medals comprise, Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson in the 4 x 100 and Jearl Miles-Clark, LaTasha Colander-Richardson, Andrea Anderson and Monique Hennagan in the 4 x 400.

USOC chief executive Jim Scherr said the damage had been done and could not be reversed.

"Our opinion is that something was won unfairly and it has completely tarnished the relay events," Mr Scherr said. "We impress upon those athletes to return the medals to the IOC."

Mr Scherr admitted that the USOC did not have the power to force the relay athletes to surrender the medals.

"It is clear we don't have jurisdiction on that matter. But if we did we would be on the side of returning those medals."

I'll grant that this is a newspaper story and was probably extremely condensed, but it still sounds heartless. To me this doesn't seem like a cut and dry issue - while the team was certainly cheating, they themselves were (apparently) not cheating, and (apparently) not even aware that their teammate was cheating.

Pat Walker examined the issue:

The really sad part of this is her teammates likely will lose their medals too.

“It’s our opinion when any sporting event is won unfairly, it’s completely tarnished and should be returned. The relay events were won unfairly,” USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth said. “It’s very unfortunate, but your result involved cheating, so the result is unfair to the other athletes of the world.”...

Cheating is cheating .. and it’s tough for her teammates, but I think all the medals should be returned.

T-Mad disagreed:

I don’t think it’s fair that her teammates be forced to give up their medals as well. *They* didn’t “cheat” (as far as we know) so why should *they* have to give up their medals? Her erstwhile teammates did their respective parts fair and square.

We'll see what they do. As I noted previously, if La Tasha gives up this medal, she doesn't have any other Olympic medal.

Perhaps she and her other non-convicted teammates can get a medal of their own - the "We Ran Well, But Marion Ran a Little Too Well" medal.

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