Slay: Silver Medal Has Gold Lining
Oct. 18, 2000
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) _ The Olympic medal around Brandon Slay's neck may have been silver, but to Panhandle residents who cheered him at a homecoming parade Tuesday, it was gold _ and should have been all along.
``We thought you ought to have won it in the first place,'' Rose McKee told the wrestler. ``We thought you got rookie-dooed.''
The International Olympic Committee is considering a recommendation by its medical commission to strip Germany's Alexander Leipold of his gold medal for testing positive for the steroid nandrolone.
If approved, Slay would receive the gold medal. A ruling is expected within days, after which Leipold will be given a chance to appeal.
Slay tried to play down news of possibly receiving the gold as he visited school children, church groups and friends in his hometown.
``Until I know it's 100 percent sure, I'm not going to get excited,'' he said. ``Silver's nice, but my goal was to get the gold.''
And if he receives the gold, it will be that much sweeter after finishing second and getting an unfriendly comment from Leipold, Slay said.
``No need to worry, you have two more Olympics to win the gold medal,'' Slay recalled Leipold telling him.
``That statement frustrated me a lot,'' Slay said. ``I wanted to win the gold this time. I wanted to be the champion in 2000. Four years is a long time to wait.''
On Tuesday, the German Wrestling Federation suspended Leipold until the IOC and international wrestling authorities take action.
Leipold, a two-time world champion and four-time European champ, failed the drug test after defeating Slay 4-0 in the 167 1/2-pound match on Oct. 1.
The German appeared at a hearing of the medical commission, which was investigating two positive drug cases in wrestling from the final weekend of the games.
Leipold would become the third Olympian from Sydney to lose a gold medal for a drug offense. A Bulgarian weightlifter and a Romanian gymnast tested positive during the games.
Leipold has said he has no idea how he could have tested positive for the anabolic steroid.
``It's not the kind of drug you take for wrestling,'' he said. ``I don't wrestle with power but with tactic and technique.''
Slay said Leipold didn't wrestle him at all. He said Leipold would not lock his hands so the two could wrestle fairly, and at one point when Leipold was on top of him and he began to squeeze his hand, the German yelled.
``I've squeezed many a man's hand and they don't move, they are silent,'' Slay said, pointing to a picture of him squeezing the German's hand. ``Here he was just screaming. It was just a show.
``It just wasn't up to me that evening. ... I felt like the referee controlled the match.''
U.S. Wrestling Federation officials say if Leipold did use steroids, he deserves to have his medal stripped and it should be awarded to Slay.
If Leipold is stripped of the medal, South Korea's Moon Eui Jae would move up from the bronze medal to silver, while Turkey's Adem Bereket would go from fourth to third.
This year was the first that the U.S. freestyle wrestling team left the games without a gold medal since 1968.
Slay said athletes must be responsible for everything that goes into their bodies. He doesn't blame Leipold or feel he took anything away from him.
``It didn't happen as planned, it didn't happen as I dreamed, but it wasn't up to him,'' Slay said. ``Alexander Leipold didn't take it away from me.''
Slay, a devout Christian, said the experience has taught him ``there's more to life than gold.''
``Rules are rules and everybody knows in athletics or life that you have to follow the rules,'' he said. ``Once I looked inside myself I realized a silver medal was a blessing to have.
And if the gold comes his way or not, the 25-year-old said he proved to himself what he needed to prove.
``I don't know if I need to wrestle anymore,'' he said. ``I don't have anything left to prove to myself. I went out there and wrestled to win, and I did that.''