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U.S. BECOMES HUNTED, NOT HUNTER, IN DOPING FIGHT

It's payback time.

For years, the United States has lectured the rest of the world on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs. Now, it's the Americans who are getting bashed.

News that world shot put champion C.J. Hunter -- husband of track star Marion Jones -- failed four drug tests and that more than a dozen other U.S. cases were suppressed has prompted a "we-told-you-so" backlash.

The message from international critics: America should stop its sanctimonious preaching and clean up its own act.

"They've been such a powerful critic," said Kevan Gosper, an IOC vice president from Australia. "But you've got to be in a pretty secure position in your own anti-doping efforts. That has been undermined by the events here. It leaves U.S. sports very vulnerable."

The drug scandals have given International Olympic Committee officials ammunition to express anti-American resentment related to the Salt Lake City bribery case.

IOC members are still angry at being portrayed as corrupt as a whole. They're also still bitter over the scathing attacks by U.S. lawmakers and White House drug chief Barry McCaffrey, who said the IOC was unfit, unwilling and unable to lead the fight against drugs.

"There is a perception in Europe that while the U.S. is very critical and very aggressive toward people who have responsibility for anti-doping, there isn't a lot of evidence there has been a big focus on the problem in the U.S.," Gosper said.

Even China, frequently targeted by U.S. swim coaches as being lax on drugs, has weighed in. He Huixian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Olympic Committee, said that, by suppressing Hunter's positive tests, U.S. track officials showed a lack of resolve in fighting doping.

The lightning rod for criticism in Sydney has been USA Track & Field, along with its executive director, former miler Craig Masback.

The IAAF has accused the national federation of suppressing 12 to 15 positive drug cases in the last two years.

Several senior IOC officials said they were shocked that Hunter could have tested positive four times for steroids this summer and still remained on the U.S. Olympic team. He withdrew from the team a few days before the games, citing a knee injury.

The head of the IOC's medical commission, Prince Alexandre de Merode, scoffed at Hunter's assertion that three of his positive tests were minuscule amounts, not 1,000 times over the limit, as reported.

"It was exactly the same result; exactly the same dosage," Merode said.

Doping continued to draw attention from great performances.

Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan must wait another day to learn if she'll get her all around gold medal back.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport promised a decision Thursday on whether the IOC should return the medal it took from the 16-year-old all-around winner for taking two cold pills containing a banned substance.

The court met for 4 1/2 hours today before recessing.

There will be no such recourse for Romania's Mihaela Melinte, the gold-medal favorite in the women's hammer throw.

In a scene that rarely, if ever, has occurred in an Olympic competition, officials escorted her off the field because she had tested positive for steroids.

Melinte's removal was ordered by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the governing body for the sport.

"This maybe was the first time she had heard the news," said IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri.

Melinte, 25, tested positive for metabolites of nandrolone at a meet in Milan, Italy, on June 7, according to Arne Ljungqvist, IAAF medical commission chairman.

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