SI Vault
July 27, 1998
The Bulls Report Jordan: Unclear Air
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July 27, 1998


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Rookie QB


Team Record

Previous Record


John Elway '83 Broncas


9-7, .563

2-7, .222


Rick Mirer '93 Seahawks


6-10, .375

2-14, .125


Drew Bledsoe '93 Patriots


5-11, .313

2-14, .125


Doug Williams '78 Bucs


5-11, .313

2-12, .143


Jeff George '90 Colts


7-9, .438

8-8, .500


Mike Pagel '82 Colts


0-8-1, .056

2-14, .125


Troy Aikman '89 Cowboys


1-15, .063

3-13, .188


The Bulls Report
Jordan: Unclear Air

He has been known I to change his mind I on occasion (retirement '95, jersey 45), but this time Michael Jordan seems to mean it. "I always said I would not play without Phil Jackson. I haven't changed that," Jordan said last Thursday at a press conference held after he hacked his way through a celebrity pro-am in Long Grove, Ill. "I just haven't made an official announcement."

So why doesn't he make that announcement and stop messing with everyone's mind? Three possibilities: First, he is enjoying the tantalizing will-he-or-won't-he drama being carried out almost daily on the pages of Chicago's newspapers. Second, he can't bear to depart without dissing the coaching choice of archenemy Jerry Krause, the Bulls' general manager, who has apparently settled on Iowa State's Tim Floyd as the replacement for Jackson. "I just don't feel like I want to start with someone who doesn't know me or know the way I play," Jordan said last week of Floyd.

Finally, Jordan, though nowhere near as vocal on labor issues as some would like him to be, is squarely behind the union in its battle with the NBA. Jordan knows his potential presence on the court is a valuable bargaining chip; it helps the players' association put pressure on the owners to settle and preserve some form of the Larry Bird exception, which allows teams to pay their own free agents whatever they want regardless of the salary cap. Without that, the Bulls would have no prayer of resigning Jordan.

Tour de France
A Sport in Shame

Regardless of the race's outcome on Aug. 2, the 1998 Tour de France will be remembered for the drug scandal that claimed the event's top team. On July 8, three days before the Tour began, Willy Voet, a masseur for the Festina team of France, was caught at the Belgian border with an undisclosed quantity of performance-enhancing drugs in his car. Though Voet first claimed that the stash, which reportedly included steroids and erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that increases the production of red blood cells, was for his personal use, Lothar Heinrich, a physician for the Telekom team, said that Voet's car contained enough drugs to supply "the Tour's 189 competitors all the way to Paris." Voet then told police that the coaching staff of Festina had instructed him to buy the drugs.

Last Thursday, Bruno Roussel, the team's coach, was suspended by Tour authorities and taken into custody. Like Voet, Roussel initially denied wrongdoing, but last Friday he told investigators that Festina riders were systematically supplied with drugs. "The object was to optimize performance under strict medical control," Roussel said in a statement.

Just hours after Roussel's confession, the entire nine-member Festina team, including Richard Virenque, a Tour favorite who was 91 seconds off the lead, was kicked out of me race. Though at week's end none of the Festina riders had failed a drug test and none had admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, the team will almost surely disband. Its sponsor, Miguel Rodriguez, who owns the Festina watch company, said, "If the allegations are true, I'll get out of the sport of bike racing." Roussel, who is under investigation for violating French drug possession and distribution laws, could face a two-year prison sentence.

Gerald Gremion, a Swiss physician who has worked with junior cyclists, says that competitive riders as young as 16 routinely request prescriptions for EPO and tell him that "everybody is taking it." They know their role models. Allegations have long persisted that an overwhelming majority of pros use performance-enhancing drugs, particularly EPO, as well as masking agents that prevent some of the drugs from showing up in testing. Already this year, two riders were hospitalized with liver and kidney problems thought to be brought on by the use of per-fluorocarbon (PFC), a synthetic blood additive that transports oxygen more efficiently than human blood does.

If use of performance-enhancers is so widespread, why have so few cyclists failed drug tests in this decade? Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, a French sports physician, says it's because EPO, the drug of choice among endurance athletes, can't be detected with current methods. In such an environment drug use is bound to proliferate. Says de Mondenard, "The riders have two choices: either join in or forget about professional cycling."

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