Expect drugs, not vote buying, to be the hot topic when the IOC meets in Athens this week. A vengeful IOC could use the session to strike back at the U.S. for what it considers Uncle Sam's grandstanding Olympic-corruption investigations and the posturing of Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the U.S. drug czar, who has called the IOC "a group of self-appointed people hiding behind a myth."
Some IOC members might say the real myth is America's vaunted self-image. Few Americans have heard of Jim Page, the USOC's assistant executive director of sport. Fewer still know that he was banned from competition for his involvement in a blood-doping scandal. In 1987 Page was director of the U.S. Nordic skiing program. Before the world championships in February '87 he approved a plan to fly a doctor to Switzerland to illegally "pack" Nordic combined skier Kerry Lynch, removing red blood cells and reinjecting them before the competition to boost the skier's endurance. Lynch won a silver at the '87 worlds—the only Nordic combined medal ever won by an American.
That December, Lynch, Page and a U.S. coach confessed to the doping. Skiing's international governing body stripped Lynch of his medal and banned him for two years. Page got a lifetime ban, which was lifted in 1990 after the U.S. Ski Association requested he be reinstated. Page says he told USOC officials about his involvement in Lynch's blood-doping in the fall of '87—before the story went public but several months after he was hired as an assistant director of international games preparation. The USOC took what spokesman Mike Moran calls "appropriate disciplinary action," and in '92 Page was promoted to his current position. Moran told SI last week that Page's past involvement in blood doping has no bearing on the USOC's antidrug efforts because Page has nothing to do with them. Until two years ago, however, drug control director Wade Exum reported directly to Page.
In international sports circles the U.S. is often considered hypocritical for its holier-than-thou pronouncements about doping. Page's tenure near the top of the USOC doesn't help that image. Neither does the fact that Kerry Lynch is now an assistant coach of the U.S. Nordic Combined World Cup team.