Four athletes who won medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens have been disqualified for doping, the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

It was in 2004 that the IOC adopted a policy of preserving blood samples for eight years to allow for subsequent retesting using the latest methods.

Ukraine's Yurij Bilonog will lose his gold medal in the shot put, while Belarus hammer thrower Ivan Tskikhan must return his silver.

Two Athens bronze medalists - Russian shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus - are also affected by the IOC decision.

The IOC will wait for the International Association of Athletics Federations to retrieve the medals and readjust the results from the Athens Games before considering a reallocation of the honors.

In the case of the shot put event, U.S. athlete Adam Nelson would be in line for the gold medal, while the silver would go to Joachim Olsen of Denmark and the bronze to Spaniard Manuel Martinez.

The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency plan to re-analyze additional samples from the 2004 Games.

IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters here that he supports the idea of extending the look-back period for doping offenses from eight to 10 years, provided samples can be safely preserved for that long. EFE