The IOC will wait for cycling's governing body to act on Lance Armstrong's doping case before it considers taking away his Olympic bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games.
The Olympic body also will look into removing Levi Leipheimer's bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Games after his admission of doping, IOC Vice President Thomas Bach told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Bach said the IOC will wait for the International Cycling Union, or UCI, to determine whether Armstrong should have been banned before the Sydney Olympics and Leipheimer suspended before the Beijing Games.
The medals are at stake following the release of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's report last week that identified Armstrong as a serial drug cheat and erased his seven Tour de France titles. Leipheimer, one of the key witnesses in USADA's case against Armstrong, confessed to his own doping — and was fired Tuesday by the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
Bach, a German lawyer who heads the IOC's legal panel and handles doping investigations, said the committee is studying the USADA report for any other doping admissions that might affect Olympic eligibility or results.
The UCI received USADA's report last week and has 21 days to decide whether to formally ratify the decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The report said Armstrong was involved in doping well before the Sydney Olympics, where he finished third in the road time trial.
"The UCI will have to decide whether he should have been banned before the Sydney Games," Bach said in a telephone interview. "If that is the case, then we would have to study the statute of limitations."
The IOC has an eight-year statute for revising Olympic results. But Bach said the USADA report took an "intriguing approach" in Armstrong's case that leaves the eight-year period open to discussion.
"What we would have to check is whether this would also work under Swiss law or whether we find a way to apply U.S. law," Bach said.
Two months after winning his second Tour de France in 2000, Armstrong took bronze in Sydney behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany. Fourth place went to Abraham Olano Manzano of Spain, who stands to move up to bronze if Armstrong is stripped of the medal.
Leipheimer was third in the time trial in Beijing behind winner Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and Gustav Larsson of Sweden. Finishing fourth was Alberto Contador, the Spaniard who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title after testing positive for clenbuterol.
Giving Contador the medal could be awkward for the IOC. The IOC previously decided not to award Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou the 100-meter gold medal from Sydney that was stripped from Marion Jones for doping. Thanou had served a suspension after allegedly evading a drug test on the eve of the 2004 Athens Games.
Leipheimer is currently serving a reduced, six-month suspension for his doping violations after cooperating with the USADA probe. He was fired by the Belgium-based Quick Step team "in light of the disclosures."
"The legal system is the same," Bach said. "It is the question whether he was eligible for the games. There is no issue with the statute of limitations because the games were in 2008."
Bach, meanwhile, called on Armstrong — who has always denied doping — to "come clean."
"It would be in the interest of sport and in his own interest," he said. "It would help cleaning up, and also it would help in drawing the right conclusions for the future to prevent something like this."