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What Happens to Usain Bolt's Stripped Olympic Medal?

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Storing someone’s urine for up to 10 years would normally be considered unusual behavior. If you’re the International Olympic Committee (IOC), though, it’s just business. The organization maintains a library of liquid waste so they can re-test athlete samples for prohibited substances.

That’s exactly what the IOC just did with Nesta Carter’s pee. The Jamaican runner won a gold medal for the 4x100 meter relay in 2008, along with teammates that included the decorated Usain Bolt. Unfortunately, Carter’s urine tested positive for a stimulant called methylhexanamine. As per IOC policy, the entire team’s medals for that competition will be officially considered stripped.

But what happens to the actual medal? Is it shipped back? Does the Olympic Committee hire a repo man?

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The fate of Bolt’s hardware can be predicted based on a past case history. In 2007, five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones came under fire for using performance-enhancing substances during the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. After her admission, the IOC stripped her of the medals and asked that they be returned.

Why not demand? Because the organization has no actual legal recourse to seize or repossess them. Athletes return them voluntarily, based on the spirit of fair play.

Jones’s attorneys met with the IOC and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency at a conference in Austin, Texas, where their client’s medals were turned over. The prizes were then forwarded back to IOC headquarters. Other athletes who have faced similar circumstances were free to simply mail their medals back.

Once the medals are back in the IOC’s possession, they’re free to either keep them in a vault—as in the case of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team that refused to accept a controversial decision that left them with silver—or reallocate them to the athlete who would have placed if not for the stripped athlete’s cheating ways. That’s what happened in 1988 when Carl Lewis was awarded the gold medal that originally went to Ben Johnson, who failed a drug test.

As for Bolt: When he learned last year that giving back his medal might be a possibility owing to Carter’s failed test, he appeared to have accepted it. “If I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back,” he told The Guardian. “It’s not a problem for me.” Then again, that might be easier to do when you’ve got eight more at home.

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What Makes a Cat's Tail Puff Up When It's Scared?
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Cats wear their emotions on their tails, not their sleeves. They tap their fluffy rear appendages during relaxing naps, thrash them while tense, and hold them stiff and aloft when they’re feeling aggressive, among other behaviors. And in some scary situations (like, say, being surprised by a cucumber), a cat’s tail will actually expand, puffing up to nearly twice its volume as its owner hisses, arches its back, and flattens its ears. What does a super-sized tail signify, and how does it occur naturally without help from hairspray?

Cats with puffed tails are “basically trying to make themselves look as big as possible, and that’s because they detect a threat in the environment," Dr. Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss. The “threat” in question can be as major as an approaching dog or as minor as an unexpected noise. Even if a cat isn't technically in any real danger, it's still biologically wired to spring to the offensive at a moment’s notice, as it's "not quite at the top of the food chain,” Delgado says. And a big tail is reflexive feline body language for “I’m big and scary, and you wouldn't want to mess with me,” she adds.

A cat’s tail puffs when muscles in its skin (where the hair base is) contract in response to hormone signals from the stress/fight or flight system, or sympathetic nervous system. Occasionally, the hairs on a cat’s back will also puff up along with the tail. That said, not all cats swell up when a startling situation strikes. “I’ve seen some cats that seem unflappable, and they never get poofed up,” Delgado says. “My cats get puffed up pretty easily.”

In addition to cats, other animals also experience piloerection, as this phenomenon is technically called. For example, “some birds puff up when they're encountering an enemy or a threat,” Delgado says. “I think it is a universal response among animals to try to get themselves out of a [potentially dangerous] situation. Really, the idea is that you don't have to fight because if you fight, you might lose an ear or you might get an injury that could be fatal. For most animals, they’re trying to figure out how to scare another animal off without actually going fisticuffs.” In other words, hiss softly, but carry a big tail.

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What Happened to the Physical Copy of the 'I Have a Dream' Speech?
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AFP, Getty Images

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech for the ages, delivering the oratorical masterpiece "I Have a Dream" to nearly 250,000 people.

When he was done, King stepped away from the podium, folded his speech, and found himself standing in front of George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player who, along with his friend Warren Wilson, had been asked to provide extra security around Dr. King while he was speaking. "We were both tall, gangly guys," Raveling told TIME in 2003. "We didn't know what we were doing but we certainly made for a good appearance."

Moved by the speech, Raveling saw the folded papers in King’s hands and asked if he could have them. King gave the young volunteer the speech without hesitation, and that was that.

“At no time do I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we got this historic document,’” Raveling told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Not realizing he was holding what would become an important piece of history in his hands, Raveling went home and stuck the three sheets of paper into a Harry Truman biography for safekeeping. They sat there for nearly two decades while Raveling developed an impressive career coaching NCAA men’s basketball.

In 1984, he had recently taken over as the head coach at the University of Iowa and was chatting with Bob Denney of the Cedar Rapids Gazette when Denney brought up the March on Washington. That's when Raveling dropped the bomb: “You know, I’ve got a copy of that speech," he said, and dug it out of the Truman book. After writing an article about Raveling's connection, the reporter had the speech professionally framed for the coach.

Though he displayed the framed speech in his house for a few years, Raveling began to realize the value of the piece and moved it to a bank vault in Los Angeles. Though he has received offers for King’s speech—one collector wanted to purchase the speech for $3 million in 2014—Raveling has turned them all down. He has been in talks with various museums and universities and hopes to put the speech on display in the future, but for now, he cherishes having it in his possession.

“That to me is something I’ll always be able to look back and say I was there,” Raveling said in the original Cedar Rapids Gazette article. “And not only out there in that arena of people, but to be within touching distance of him. That’s like when you’re 80 or 90 years old you can look back and say ‘I was in touching distance of Abraham Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Address.’"

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech,” Raveling, now CEO of Coaching for Success, has said. “But I’m sure glad that I did.”

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