LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Tyler Hamilton turned over his 2004 cycling gold medal to the United States Anti-Doping Agency on Friday, putting Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov in line for an upgrade from silver.
The International Olympic Committee had said it could strip Hamilton of his time trial gold at the Athens Olympics after he told CBS' "60 Minutes" he doped and said Lance Armstrong did as well. But USADA released a statement Friday saying Hamilton already had handed over the medal.
"I can confirm that Tyler Hamilton has given his gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games to USADA, and that we will continue to work with the IOC and the USOC as appropriate concerning the final implications of our overall investigation," Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, said in a release.
The IOC can retroactively strip Olympic medals if proof of doping emerges later or an athlete admits to cheating. The IOC took away Marion Jones' five medals from the 2000 Sydney Games after she admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.
The IOC had provisionally investigated Hamilton for doping after he won in 2004. An initial test at the Athens Games suggested the American had received an endurance-boosting blood transfusion. But the case was dropped after his backup sample was mistakenly frozen, leaving too few red blood cells to analyze.
The Russian Olympic Committee failed in a 2006 appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have Hamilton's gold given to Ekimov, Hamilton's former U.S. Postal Service teammate.
Ekimov, a longtime member of Armstrong's U.S. Postal and Discovery Channel teams, already has two Olympic golds. He won in track team pursuit at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when the Soviet Union edged East Germany for gold. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he won the road time trial ahead of silver medalist Jan Ullrich and Armstrong in third for bronze.
Armstrong posted a message for Ekimov on his Twitter page late Thursday.
"Congratulations to (at)eki_ekimov on his 3rd Olympic Gold Medal!!" the seven-time Tour de France champion wrote.