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Timeline of a horrifying day

All of the following are listed in Australian time

12:00 Alexandru Lăzărescu, president of the Romanian delegation finds out he will soon be delivered an important notice from the IOC medical commission. Most of the time, these notices refer to a failed a drug test. "I was afraid it was the weightlifting team again, or some other sport, but I never thought it could be in gymnastics", he would later confess.

13:08 The envelope from the IOC arrives. The secretaries of the COR open it and freeze. The letter asks them to show up at Renaissance Hotel , where the IOC medical commission will debate Andreea Răducan's case, who tested positive for a banned substance. The letter did not mention what was the banned substance the Olympic Champion tested positive for.

13:15 The entire Romanian delegation is alerted. Ion Tiriac, president of the COR is handed the letter. Much to the officials' surprise, other delegations find about the event right away, and they are calling to ask for more details. The press also find out something is amiss, and they ask for more details.

13:30 Octavian Belu is informed inside his apartment in the Olympic Village about what happened. He jumps up like a trapped animal. "They're trying to work this one over on us. It's a set-up", were the first words the indignant coach uttered. Furious, he leaves and threatens to withdraw his team from the competition (this was before event finals). A few minutes later, he comes back and all the other Romanian officials are brought in to try and find a solution.

13:45 When Belu went into the room and told assistant Mariana Bitang that "Andreea failed her drug test", she replied "that's a dumb joke." Once she receives confirmation, this is not a joke, her legs go out from underneath her. Both of them go into Andreea's room and let her know about the test result. The gymnast faints on her bed. After she comes back to her sense, the coaches ask her if she took any medication by herself. "I swear to God I didn't take anything", she answers.

14:00 The gymnastics team leaves for the Superdome, where the event finals are about to start. The COR sends over a list of all vitamins given to Andreea by team doctor Ioachim Oană to the IOC. On the list there are also two painkillers, Voltaren and Nurofen prescribed for her back pain. Rumors start to circulate that the latter could contain ephedrine. In the closing statements of the COR letter, they are contesting the test results, and proclaiming Andreea's innocence.

15:30 Competition starts. The spectators don't know anything about what just happened, but the other athletes and the journalists look towards the Romanian delegation. During the beam finals, where Olaru and Presacan are qualified, Mariana Bitang is the coach who watches from the sidelines, not Belu. The coach is in the warm-up hall with Andreea, trying to calm her down before the floor final, for which she qualified. Bleu and Andreea made the mutual decision to enter the competition, after the hastily assembled IOC gave her permission to do so.

16:30 Andreea slates the judges before her routine. Belu is sitting on the sidelines, barely able to breathe. To the spectators, he's just another nervous coach. To the ones who know what happened, this is a live drama taking place in the elegant competition venue. The Romanian gymnast falls to her hands after a tumbling run. She comes down from the floor with tears in her eyes. "Everyone looked at me in a way that made me want to hide underneath the floor (mat). And, you have my word I am completely innocent", she told her coaches. She gets a 9.275, and is already out of the medals. The last chance for revenge belongs to Simona Amînar. Her skills flow smoothly. The crowd claps in unison. On her last tumbling run, she steps out of bounds. Belu is petrified. From gold. Simona's medal turns to bronze. Everything is going against us today. And, it's not over yet.


18:30 After the competition, none of the Romanians show up for the press conference. It's the first time this happened. After waiting for half an hour, the officials put away Simona Amanar's name card.

22:45 Belu, Răducan, Dr. Oană and RGF president Nicolae Vieru get to the IOC hotel, where they meet up with Tiriac and Ion Drăgan, director of the Sports Medicine Institute from din Bucharest. The IOC commission waits for them on the 3rd floor. The floor has four security guards on duty, who ask the press to wait in the hallway below.

23:10 The conference starts. Belu talks about how hard it is to train a world class athlete, and explains how the Romanian gymnastics school became such a dominant force. "We never cheated and it's no different in this case," he says. Tiriac supports his views. Andreea Răducan follows, speaking in Romanian, with Tiriac acting as a translator. "I am an athlete and I train. I didn't take any medication without the doctor's knowledge", adds the 16-year old. Dr. Oană admits he did not know there are two forms of Nuforen available, and that one of them contains pseudo-ephedrine. "I gave the athlete two Nurofen pills a day for her cold and pack pain", he says. A "cross-examination" followed, with Dr. Oana trying to answer all the question. He is told the quantity of ephedrine found in Andreea's test is 3 times higher than the maximum admitted.

1:00 AM The Romanian delegation leaves the conference room, and the 20+ doctors & officials of the IOC medical commission begin to deliberate. They draft proposals for the IOC executive committee, the only organization who can make a decision on this. They all agree the team doctor should be punished. They ask he is banned from the next two Olympics. hen, they vote on whether the gymnast should be punished or not. Only four members feel she should not receive any penalty. The others ask she is stripped of her AA gold medal, a proposal they will forward to the IOC.


2:00 The Romanian officials are called back to the conference room. They listen to the IOC decision visibly disturbed. Then, Belu, Oană & Răducan leave the hotel as fast as they can, not making any comments. Tiriac gets them to his car, trying to protect them from the onslaught of journalists. Then he goes back to the hotel, where he gives a brief speech, trying to emphasize the finals decision belongs to the IOC. There is some hope that their deacision will be more lenient.


2:15 Tiriac & Dr. Drăgan leave the hotel, as well. The medal standing are shown on a Tv screen. Romania is in 7th place, where they are going to stay, because Andreea's gold medal will be handed Simona Amânar, who initially finished second, and Olaru will move up to a silver medal. Apparently, the team only lost one bronze. Actually, it was a dream that died at the end of the saddest day in Romanian Olympic sports.

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