As the USOC's director of drug control administration from 1991 to 2000, Dr. Wade Exum worked behind the curtain that separates fact from rumor in the world of drug testing. He started the job as a crusader, but he left it embittered and disillusioned. He also left with 30,000 pages of documents that he says prove that the USOC ran an ineffective testing program and encouraged the use of performance-enhancing drugs by not punishing those who tested positive.
Exum planned to enter the documents in his racial discrimination and wrongful termination suit against the USOC, but last week the case was dismissed in federal court because of lack of evidence. Exum—with misgivings, he says—gave SI copies of the documents. "I never wanted to out athletes," he says. "I never wanted to name names. Can these names help settle the issue and change the system? We'll see."
Exum's papers cite more than 100 positive drug tests for U.S. athletes from 1988 to 2000. In many of these cases, he says, the athletes were not prevented from competing. Included in the documents are test results, memos or letters indicating drug positives for athletes who won 19 Olympic medals from 1984 to 2000 and at least 18 athletes who tested positive in the Olympic trials and were allowed to compete in the Games. Among the biggest names:
Carl Lewis—At the 1988 Olympic trials he tested positive three times for small amounts of banned stimulants found in cold medications: pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. After first disqualifying Lewis from the Olympics, the USOC accepted his appeal on the basis of inadvertent use. Lewis went on to win gold at Seoul in the 100 meters and long jump. Lewis could not be reached, but his longtime manager, Joe Douglas, said Lewis had not taken anything to enhance his performance.
Joe DeLoach—Lewis's training partner won the 200 at the '88 trials and tested positive for the same three stimulants as Lewis. He was excused for the same reason and then upset Lewis in the 200 to win gold in Seoul. DeLoach could not be reached for comment.
Andre Phillips—He tested positive for pseudo-ephedrine at the '88 track trials, won an appeal and beat Edwin Moses in the 400-meter hurdles in Seoul. Phillips declined to comment to SI.
Mary Joe Fernandez—The pro tennis player tested positive for pseudoephedrine before the '92 Olympics, was not disciplined and won gold and bronze medals at the Games. Reached by SI on Monday, Fernandez blamed the positive result on cold medication she had taken.
Alexi Lalas—In '92 the soccer star was found to have an elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, which can indicate steroid use. Nevertheless, Lalas was allowed to compete at the '92 Olympics. Though Lalas could not be reached, his agent, Richard Motzkin, says the positive was "a onetime blip" not caused by steroid use.
Dave Schultz—The '84 wrestling gold medalist tested positive for the stimulant phentermine in '93. USA Wrestling issued a letter of reprimand but let him compete. Schultz was shot to death in '96 by wrestling benefactor John du Pont.
Exum's records are piecemeal and do not provide a blanket condemnation of USOC testing. There's no evidence of widespread steroid use being covered up. Many positives are for substances found in over-the-counter medications, and other countries' federations have for years excused drug use by some of their athletes as accidental. Yet many athletes do get disqualified for testing positive for the substances that, for example, Lewis and Fernandez tested positive for. The IOC maintains that athletes are responsible for any drugs in their system.