SI Vault
February 15, 1999
Olympic Scandal (cont.) Exit, Your Excellency
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February 15, 1999


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As of Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes were 23-20-9 and leading the Florida Panthers by four points in the NHL's Southeast Division. If the Hurricanes—formerly the Hartford Whalers—hold on to first place, they'll earn the franchise's first division title since 1987. A winning season would also end another impressive streak of futility: eight straight losing records. That barren stretch has made the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise one of the most consistent losers in league history. Here are the clubs that have stayed south of .500 the longest since the NHL's 1967 expansion.





1976-77 to 1990-91


Red Wings

1973-74 to 1986-87



1974-75 to 1986-87


Maple Leafs

1979-80 to 1988-89



1990-91 to 1997-98



1979-80 to 1986-87



1974-75 to 1981-82


Olympic Scandal (cont.)
Exit, Your Excellency

One of the duties of leadership is knowing when to give it up. Juan Antonio Samaranch, the 78-year-old president of the beleaguered International Olympic Committee, has already failed this test once. In 1995 Samaranch engineered a change in IOC bylaws that raised the IOC's mandatory retirement age from 75 to 80, enabling him to serve until 2001. "Had he stepped down back then, his time in office would have been remembered as the good old days," a member of the IOC's executive board said wistfully last weekend. Instead Samaranch is presiding over an Olympic debacle involving bribery, drug abuse and failing IOC reform.

The serial bribery of IOC members by cities seeking to host the Games flourished on Samaranch's watch. On the drug issue, the IOC is so lacking in resolve that last summer Samaranch suggested that the Games should permit athletes to use any performance-enhancing drug not yet proved to have adverse side effects—a proposal he withdrew in the face of criticism from the chairman of the IOC's medical commission.

Samaranch tried to reclaim the high ground by convening a World Conference on Doping in Sport last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, but the meeting only confirmed that he lacks the vision and public support required to bring the IOC out of its morass. Attendees rejected his proposal that he be put in control of a new independent drug-testing organization, which the Olympic movement desperately needs if it is to regain its credibility. Speaker after speaker, including British Minister of Sport Tony Banks and White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey, lambasted the IOC. Without a sweeping overhaul, they said, the committee couldn't begin to solve the drug problem in Olympic sports. Samaranch sat silent and wide-eyed at the head table as Germany's interior minister, Otto Schily, said, "Everybody should know when it's time to go."

In a closed-door meeting between a group of the IOC's rank and file and its executive board, the members were almost unanimously opposed to Samaranch's new plan for choosing host cities—which would cut most of the 111 IOC members out of the selection process. At a special IOC session called for March 17 and 18 in Lausanne, the full membership will vote on that plan, which seems unlikely to receive the two-thirds support needed for passage. At that same meeting, members will be asked to cast a vote of confidence for Samaranch.

With the reputation of the IOC and the future of the Olympics at stake, Samaranch should perform an act of true leadership: He should resign. The IOC could then use its March session to choose a new president and a new direction.

NFL Prep School
Combine and Conquer

The NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis can make or break a career. That's why NFL-bound quarterbacks Tim Couch and Cade McNown and a dozen other top prospects have been sweating it out at the International Performance Institute, a Bradenton, Fla.-based boot camp where NFL hopefuls can prepare for this year's combine, which opens on Feb. 18. "If I'd stayed in L.A., it'd be easy to start my days at 10 a.m. and go golfing," says McNown, "but I'm not down here to have a good time. This is about focusing on what matters."

The four-year-old institute is run by IMG, which represents the college football players who take part. It features the latest weight and flexibility training equipment, two Olympic-sized pools and a domed 70-yard artificial-turf field. Athletes get one-on-one attention from nutritionists and sports medicine specialists as well as such tutors as longtime NFL quarterbacks coach Larry Kennen and former Dolphins offensive line wizard John Sandusky.

After four weeks at the institute last year, San Diego State offensive tackle Kyle Turley—projected as a mid-to-late first-round draft pick—was tabbed seventh by the Saints. Turley signed for a little more than $2 million a year, almost double what 20th-choice Terry Fair got from the Detroit Lions.

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