•Oksana Baiul, gold medal figure skater. Police arrested Baiul on Jan. 12 after her Mercedes veered off the road into a group of trees in Bloomfield Conn. She had been driving close to 100 in a 45 zone and had a blood-alcohol content of .168 (legal limit: .10). Baiul was 19 at the time, two yean below the drinking age. She was fined $90 and ordered to do 25 hours of community service and to attend an alcohol education program.
Iron Mike's Big Break
Last week the Nevada State Athletic Commission put Mike Tyson on ice for at least a year, which ought to make him and his handlers the happiest men alive, the $3 million fine by the commission notwithstanding. (Tyson still kept $27 million of his purse from his June 28 bout with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.) The commission's revocation of Tyson's boxing license saves him the embarrassment of campaigning as a has-been. It also gives him time off to rebuild his image so that he'll be able to make another high-profit swing through Las Vegas.
While the commission acted in good faith, its ruling will simply protect boxing's biggest box-office property, who would have been exposed as a fighter whose most fearsome attribute was a toothy grin. Careful match-making might have protected Tyson's career, but his back-to-back losses to Holyfield, capped by the bizarre biting that ended the second bout, would have undermined his marketability. He would have become a novelty act, a joke.
Instead, with Tyson banished from boxing (he can apply for reinstatement after one year), his handlers can retool his mystique. Tyson, who has unrecognized talents as a con artist, can merely feign rehabilitation and excite enough sympathy to persuade two million people to plunk down $50 apiece to watch his return. Team Tyson has been down this road before, remember. After earning about $70 million from 1985 to '92, Tyson raped an 18-year-old and went to prison for three years. His return to the ring was carefully scripted, and without providing even one memorable athletic moment, he pocketed $140 million in just 22 months. Could a similar sting be in the works? Our own cynical bet is that Peter McNeeley's back in the gym.
Playing with Fire
In its bid to acquire the 2004 Summer Olympics, Stockholm has promoted an image of Scandinavian serenity. Now a series of frightening blazes threatens to send that reputation up in smoke. Since May 19, seven sports facilities in and around the Swedish capital have been badly damaged by fire. Arson is suspected in at least five of the cases.
Most disturbing, and perhaps most telling, an exterior of a wall of the house of former Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson was ignited by a crude firebomb on June 3. Carlsson is president of Stockholm 2004, the organization leading the Olympic bid. Though no one has claimed responsibility for any of the fires, there has been widespread speculation in Sweden that they were set by groups who oppose the Games for the possible environmental damage they could cause. Stockholm police believe that the same person or group may have set all the fires.
No one has been hurt in the blazes, which have ravaged tennis centers, stadiums and ice hockey rinks, but nervous Olympic advocates are feeling the heat. "We are taking this very seriously," says Goran Laangsved, chairman of Stockholm 2004. "It's rather difficult to protect yourself against madmen."
What an Agent, What a Night