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Thursday, October 12
Tiriac quits as Romanian Olympic president

BUCHAREST -- Ion Tiriac announced his resignation as Romanian Olympic Committee (COR) president Thursday, citing personal reasons.

The 61-year-old former tennis star was bitterly disappointed by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to strip Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan of her all-round Olympic gold in Sydney after she tested positive for a banned drug her doctor gave her to cure a cold.

"I have resigned as COR president for personal reasons," Tiriac told reporters at COR headquarters. "I had to do it, because there was no other way for me.

"You cannot suspend a performer for taking an aspirin." Tiriac's term as COR president should have ended in May 2001.

"I think I accomplished my task to lead the Romanian squad to the Olympic Games in Sydney. I was honored to accompany Romania's outstanding performers to show the world we are among the best," he added.

Tiriac was dealt another blow in Sydney when the IOC's Ethics Commission blocked his bid to become an IOC member, saying that Olympic activity was incompatible with Tiriac's activity as a sports manager.

Tiriac has a key position in the ATP men's tennis tour and he also represents western carmakers in Romania and elsewhere.

Thursday, he said he would keep his position as a COR member, and would remain "inside the local Olympic movement."

"For the time being, I'm no longer interested in running for the IOC," he told Reuters.

A COR spokesman said a three-person emergency committee would replace Tiriac and would call early elections for the presidency in January 2001.

According to COR rules, which Tiriac himself promoted after his election as COR president two years ago, Romanian athletes testing positive are banned for life from any Olympic activity.

Tiriac supported Raducan and two Romanian weightlifters who also tested positive, but they all lost their appeals before the Sydney Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Tiriac said he understood the IOC's move to strip Raducan of her medal, but he accused the IOC of "lacking courage to take account of the human factor in Raducan's case."

IOC officials in Sydney admitted that Raducan gained no competitive edge from the substance contained in the pill she took, but said the rules clearly stated that the presence of any banned subbstance in an athlete was ground for punishment.

Romania finished 11th in the Olympic standings, with a total of 26 medals, 11 of them gold.

Medal winners and their coaches got record cash awards totalling $2 million from Romanian authorities and local businessmen Wednesday.


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