Nastase says that he won't run for any office in Romania's general elections next year. But he has always been unpredictable. And now that he's back in the public eye, people are once again wondering: What will Nasty do next?
With her upset victory in the 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. Open Swimming Championships at Auburn last Saturday, Jessica Foschi, the 15-year-old who tested positive for steroids in August, at once established herself as an Olympic contender and heightened the controversy around her. The Open was Foschi's first major meet since the U.S. nationals, where she tested positive for mesterolone, a steroid used to treat male infertility. "Since she was accused of doing drugs, it was unfair for her to win and unfair for her to be here," said Trina Jackson, who finished fourth behind Foschi in Auburn.
Exactly what is fair in Foschi's case? After her dirty results, U.S. Swimming's three-member review board voted 2-1 against giving her the usual two-year suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, apparently believing claims by Foschi, her parents and her coach that she never knowingly took drugs and that she was "sabotaged." Instead, she was given two years' probation. That decision undermined the credibility of U.S. Swimming, whose officials often bellyache about juiced-up Chinese wonder women. A two-year penalty for Foschi would have been consonant with the ban then required by FINA, swimming's international governing body. And the Foschi decision was doubly embarrassing because U.S. Swimming was then campaigning to increase the FINA ban to four years, an increase it helped push through on Nov. 28 at a FINA congress in Rio de Janeiro. "The American officials ought to be embarrassed," says Australian head coach Don Talbot. "They have a swimmer they are letting off the hook so she can swim at next year's Olympics."
Foschi's performance last Saturday added urgency to the situation. The case has caused such a stir in U.S. Swimming that the organization's president, Carol Zaleski, has appealed the review board's decision to the federation's 22-member board of directors. If U.S. Swimming doesn't suspend Foschi, FINA almost certainly will.
Even then, Foschi could seek reinstatement in U.S. courts, as Butch Reynolds did in 1992, when, despite having been suspended for steroid use, he was allowed to compete in the 400-meter Olympic trials. Such a suit could set up an unusual courtroom confrontation between Foschi and an international federation (either FINA or the IOC, or both).
But before any of that, U.S. Swimming can make a statement on its own behalf when its directors convene to hear the case. It should hold Foschi to the same standards and subject her to the same sanctions as other international swimmers.
The Tar Heel Tiger?
Hoping to boost sales of logoed items, the University of North Carolina has unveiled a new version of its ram logo. Replacing the Tar Heels' pouting little ram's head is a snarling one. Biruta Nielsen, who runs the North Carolina licensing program, said the school wanted a "more determined" looking ram. But, she added, "we specifically didn't want any fangs or claws."
It's a good thing. Lest Nielsen has forgotten her Bio 101, the ram is a bovid, with hoofed feet and flat teeth for chewing its cud. As Tar Heel publicist Rick Brewer notes, "I've stood right next to Rameses [the live ram on the sidelines at UNC football games]. He doesn't have fangs or claws either."