Six weeks after the Athens Olympics, the United States stands to pick up another gold medal -- thanks to an equestrian doping scandal.

The four Americans who finished second in the team jumping event could be bumped up to gold because a horse ridden by a member of the winning German team failed a drug test.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) said from its Swiss headquarters yesterday that four horses tested positive for banned substances during the Games. While FEI did not disclose the names of the horses or riders, the national federations did:

* Waterford Crystal, ridden by show jumper Cian O'Connor, winner of Ireland's only gold medal in Athens.

* Goldfever, ridden by Ludger Beerbaum of Germany's gold medal-winning quartet in team jumping.

* Ringwood Cockatoo, German rider Bettina Hoy's horse. She won the three-day and individual events, but lost those golds for a technical infraction.

* Foxy Xx, ridden by Austria's Harald Riedl. The pair finished far out of the medals in three-day eventing.

The riders denied cheating. They said their horses received treatment for legitimate medical reasons and not to improve performance.

The riders and their federations said they would request analysis of the horses' backup samples. If those tests also come back positive, the International Olympic Committee could annul the results and strip any medals.

The Americans won five equestrian medals in Athens, two silver and three bronze. If Germany loses the team jumping gold, it would go to the U.S. quartet of Chris Kappler, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Peter Wylde. Kappler won a bronze in show jumping aboard Royal Kaliber. He would move up to silver if O'Connor is stripped of his gold. Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil would move from silver to gold.

-- From News Services