By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London

Antonio Pettigrew_and_US_4x400m_team_Sydney_2000July 21 - Nigeria were today finally awarded the Olympic gold medal from the men's 4x400 metres relay at the Games in Sydney 12 years ago, although it comes too late for one of their team, Sunday Bada, who died eight months ago.

The decison by the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board to reallocate the medals from 2000 came three years after they had decided to disqualify of the United States team (pictured above). 

They were disqualified because of the late Antonio Pettigrew confessing to having used banned performance-enhancing drugs at the time. 

With Nigeria elevated to the top position, Jamaica are promoted to silver and Bahamas the bronze.

"Pettigrew was disqualified in August 2008 but the EB delayed a decision on reallocation until it had received information stemming from investigations into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) sports-doping scandal," said a statement from the IOC after they had met here today.

"Having confirmed that no further information on other athletes would be forthcoming the EB agreed to reallocate the medals and diplomas.

"The teams from Nigeria, Jamaica and the Bahamas that finished behind the US men in the 4x400m race will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals respectively."

But there is probably little for the Nigerians to celebrate after Bada, who ran the third leg as the team set a national record of 2min 58.68sec, died last December.

Bada, the former world indoor 400m champion, dropped dead suddenly at the age of 42 last December while he was waiting for the IOC decision. 

The whole race is tinged with tragedy.  

Antonio Pettigrew_in_4x400m_relay_Sydney_2000Antonio Pettigrew waits to receive the baton from Alvin Harrison on the second leg of the 4x400m relay at Sydney in 2000. The Nigerians are on the right in green

The US team, who included Michael Johnson, were stripped of their medals after Pettigrew admitted in 2008 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs while being coached by Trevor Graham, who had close links to BALCO.

After returning his medal Johnson, which meant he ended his career with four Olympic golds rather than five, claimed "I feel cheated, betrayed and let down" by Pettigrew.

Two years later Pettigrew was found dead in the back seat of his locked car in Chatham County, North Carolina, and evidence of sleeping pills was found by police.

An autopsy report later stated that he had committed suicide by overdosing on a medication containing diphenhydramine.

It is one of six races at the Sydney Olympics where the result has been affected by athletes admitting that they took drugs.

Medals in the women's 200m and long jump had to be reallocated after American Marion Jones confessed to having taken drugs prior to the Games.

The US were allowed to keep the medals they won in the 4x100m and 4x400m after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

The gold medal that Jones won in the 100m, meanwhile, has never been given to anyone because the runner-up, Greece's Ekaterini Thanou, was herself the subject of drugs allegations.

But he Executive Board was not able to decide about a result regarding the US women's 4x400m relay gold medal winners from the 2004 Olympics in Athens despite Crystal Cox admitting afterwards she took steroids from from 2001.

Crystal Cox_4x400m_relay_Athens_2004Sanya Richards, Monique Henderson, Moushaumi Robinson and Crystal Cox after the first round of the 4x400m relay at Athens in the 2004 Olympics

Whilst the athlete herself - who ran solely in the heat - had her medal taken back the IOC are awaiting clarification from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as to whether the whole team should be disqualified.

If the result is overturned, Russia will move up to the gold medal position with Jamaica taking silver and Britain bronze.

Under current international rules, an entire relay team can be disqualified because of the doping of one member, even if they only ran in the heats. 

But IOC spokesman Mark Adams said it was not clear whether the IAAF rules were in effect at the time of the Athens Games.

"It is now within the remit of the IAAF to interpret its rules as to whether the disqualification of the athlete would have any effect on the results of the US relay team," the IOC said.

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August 2010: Drugs cheat Antonio Pettigrew found dead in car
August 2009: IOC strip Michael Johnson of one of his medals