Since the fall of communism, horror story after horror story has come to light about the excesses, pharmacological and otherwise, of the various Eastern-bloc sports machines. But no tale has been quite as chilling as the account aired on Nov. 21 by RTL, a TV station based in Luxembourg and Germany. According to Olga Kovalenko, who as Olga Karasyova won a team gymnastics gold medal for the U.S.S.R. at he 1968 Olympics, Soviet sports officials ordered her al the age of 18 to become pregnant by her boyfriend and then deseed that the fetus be aborted at 10 weeks. Kovalenko, who indicated that she vas one of many female athletes directed to have sex, said doctors told her that pregnancy would cause her body to produce more male hormones, which in turn would give her greater strength and stamina. She said that girls who balked at the order were threatened with dismissal from the team, and some of those without boyfriends had sex with their coaches until they became pregnant.
Vadim Moyesseyev, who was identified as an official with the Soviet Olympic team in the late 1960s, confirmed Kovalenko's story. And one unnamed former coach told RTL, "There was a lot of coercion and manipulation to make the girls "et pregnant. In any other country it would have been called rape."
Vladimir Cerin is a kinesiologist who has worked with such athletes as Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes and Tracy Austin. In 1980 lie decided to become a horse trainer, too, and since then he has sometimes compared the training habits of his human subjects with those of his equine ones. Homo sapiens don't always win out. "It's very difficult," Cerin says, "for a horse to sneak out to McDonald's."
A lot can happen in four seconds. Just ask Derrick Williams, the senior quarterback of the Bonnabel High Bruins in Metairie, La. With four ticks remaining in Bonnabel's Nov. 11 Class 5A playoff game against rival St. Augustine High of New Orleans, Derrick's Bruins led the favored Purple Knights 20-13 and had the ball, facing fourth down, smack on the 50-yard line. Derrick, who had already played what his coach, Mike Villemarette, would call "the best game of his career," had just one more play to run. He was to take the snap, turn and run toward his own end zone until the clock ran out. "If they chased him, he was supposed to run right on out of the end zone and give them a safety," says Villemarette.
Which is what Derrick did—or thought he did. In fact, as soon as he crossed the goal line he stopped and, in exultation, tossed the ball into the air. It landed in the hands of a St. Augustine defensive back who had chased Derrick for 50 yards. Though one official had already signaled a safety, a five-minute rules conference produced a different call. Because Derrick had never gone down in the end zone, the play wasn't ruled a safety but a St. Augustine touchdown. The Knights scored on a two-point conversion, and Derrick and his teammates suddenly found their season over.
"I thought it was a safety," a disconsolate Derrick said afterward. "All I could think of was, We won. We beat St. Aug."
Says Villemarette, "Everyone knew we never would have made it this far without Derrick. And that's what the other players told him after the game. One by one they went up and hugged him and let him know how they felt."
Others in Metairie shared the embrace. Down at the Sav-a-Center the boss gave Derrick a day off from work. Offshore powerboat racer and Popeyes fried-chicken mogul Al Copeland, who lives nearby, hired Derrick and his teammates to put up Christmas lights at his house. And Derrick began thinking of the spring, when he'll play baseball, the sport of a certain catcher-philosopher who said it ain't over till it's over.