Lance Armstrong could yet keep his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games even if he is stripped of his seven Tour de France victories for doping.
A senior IOC member and legal expert told The Associated Press today that it was unclear if the Olympic body can take the time trial medal from Armstrong.
"It's an interesting case on a legal point of view," said Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and longtime member of the IOC's legal commission.
Oswald said the expected case could turn on different ways to interpret the eight-year statute of limitations stipulated in the World Anti-Doping Code.
Oswald acknowledged that the IOC feels "bound" by the code, which regulates Olympic sports.
"It is in the World Anti-Doping Code, and what is older than eight years you can't review," Oswald said.
However, he noted that the code came into force in 2003 and no time limit applied in Sydney.
"Is there reasoning to say it didn't exist when the violation was committed and therefore we are not bound?" Oswald suggested, freeing the IOC to strip the medal.
Armstrong's legacy and titles have been at risk since, two weeks ago, he dropped any further challenges to US Anti-Doping Agency allegations that he took banned drugs throughout his career, including when he won the Tour from 1999 through 2005.
USADA said the following day that Armstrong should lose all titles and medals won since August 1998.
The International Cycling Union governing body is waiting to receive a detailed judgment from USADA before deciding whether to formally strip Armstrong's Tour titles.
Tour de France organiser, the Amaury Sports Organization, said it also awaits guidance from USADA and the UCI.
The IOC has responsibility for managing Olympic Games results but is not yet formally involved in the case, which Oswald described as "unusual."
"We haven't been notified of anything, not even from USADA and not from UCI," he said. "For the time being, we are not asked to take a position."
The IOC did formally strip an Olympic title last month from former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton, just weeks before the eight-year statute of limitation expired.
Hamilton had already sent back his gold medal after previously admitting doping when he won the time trial at the 2004 Athens Games.
Hamilton published a book this week in which he detailed allegations of a coordinated doping program involving Armstrong and his Tour-winning teams. Armstrong denies having doped.