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Tuesday, October 17
Slay: 'There more to life than gold'

GRUVER, Texas -- Brandon Slay was already satisfied with his silver medal at the Olympics. Now the Texas wrestler waits to see if the IOC will reward him with gold.

Brandon Slay
Brandon Slay, left, battles Germany's Alexander Leipold in the gold medal match in Sydney. Leipold tested positive for a steroid and could lose his gold medal.

"If I receive that gold medal it's going to put a big smile on my face," he said Monday during a break from phone calls and e-mails at his former teacher's home. "But it's not about having a gold medal around your neck. It's about the gold in your heart."

The IOC's medical commission recommended that Germany's Alexander Leipold be stripped of his gold medal for testing positive for the steroid nandrolone. A ruling could come in a few days.

On Tuesday, the German Wrestling Federation suspended Leipold until the IOC and international wrestling authorities take action.

In the meantime, Slay goes about his life, visiting with school children and church groups in this small Panhandle town. On Monday, a stream of children showed up at the door for autographs. Slay tries not to worry about the review by the Olympic panel.

"I have everybody telling me it's 99 percent, but you know in sports there's always that 1 percent," Slay told a group of Gruver football coaches.

"I really haven't let it affect me emotionally at all yet, because you never know what is going to happen," he said. "I am not going to set myself up for a potential letdown. Either medal, gold or silver, I am happy with it."

The Sydney Games marked the first time the U.S. freestyle wrestling team left without a gold medal since 1968.

"I felt like the referee controlled the match," Slay told a group of Gruver teenagers who gathered in a barn to pray with him Monday night. "I wasn't very happy when it was over. When you have a dream for so many years and it comes crashing down on you ... you get angry. Over the next three days, God taught me that there's more to life than gold."

Slay planned to spend Friday visiting two Amarillo schools, before attending a downtown parade in his honor.

Leipold, a two-time world champion and four-time European champ, failed the mandatory drug test after defeating Slay 4-0 in the 167½-pound match on the final day of the games, 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.

The other wrestler accused was Mongolia's Oyungbileg Purevbaatar, who tested positive for the diuretic furosemide after finishing fifth in the 127¾-pound class.

The IOC panel recommended that he be disqualified and his results wiped off the books.

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.

With his wife crying by his side, Leipold said he had no idea how he could have tested positive for the anabolic steroid that has produced a spate of recent drug scandals worldwide.

"It's not the kind of drug you take for wrestling," he said. "I don't wrestle with power but with tactic and technique."

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.

Slay would be the second U.S. athlete to win a gold because of a drug disqualification in Sydney. Tara Nott became the first American to win a gold in weightlifting in 40 years when Bulgaria's Izabela Dragneva was disqualified after winning the 105-pound class.

"I've already made dinks in mine and to give it to the Korean in that condition wouldn't be right," Slay said of his medal. "They said they are considering having a medal ceremony in either Colorado Springs, Washington D.C., or Amarillo. I want to have it in Amarillo."

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission, said Leipold's sample showed 20 nanograms of nandrolone per milliliter of urine. The limit is 2 nanograms per milliliter

"When you find 10 times more than the fixed limit, we believe the case is clear," de Merode said.

De Merode said the recommendations would be made to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was traveling Monday to Sydney for the Paralympics.

He said Samaranch will arrange a conference call with the IOC's four vice presidents, or the entire 15-member executive board, to act on the two cases , probably within a few days.

Johnny Cobb, Slay's high school wrestling coach, doesn't need to wait for a ruling.

"He was a gold medalist to us long before this recommendation ever came down," Cobb said.


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