In the face of such disgrace, Samaranch's eagerness to trumpet the purity of the Chinese seems misguided, as does his recent endorsement of relatively mild two-year bans for first-time drug offenders. Of course, Samaranch may simply be trying to avert a Chinese boycott of the 1996 Atlanta Games and to keep that country in the IOC fold. Still, in an era in which so many extraordinary performances are greeted with jaded suspicion, the keepers of international sport should be less worried about soothing feelings and more concerned about deterring the cheats.
On Monday morning, Nov. 14, the rumor around Houston was that the Oilers were about to replace coach Jack Pardee. Among reporters scrambling after the story was former Oiler quarterback Gif-ford Nielsen, now the sports anchor for KHOU-TV, the local CBS affiliate. After a fruitless morning spent making phone calls and chasing leads, Nielsen was at the Oiler practice facility when the team announced that Pardee had been fired and Jeff Fisher would be the new coach. KHOU went live with the information at noon. Later that day Gifford mentioned the big news to his seven-year-old son, Dane, a budding Oiler fan. "I asked him if he knew about the change in coaches," says Nielsen. "He said, 'Sure, Dad. Brandon told me about it at eight o'clock this morning.' "
That would be Brandon Fisher, the new Oiler coach's seven-year-old son and a first-grade classmate of Dane's.
"I just didn't call the right person," says Gifford.
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