Because tennis—the sport for which Tiriac is known—wasn't an official Olympic competition from 1924 until this year, this came as something of a revelation. "It's true," said Tiriac. "I was a defenseman on the '64 Romanian ice hockey team."
Tiriac said that he was having a wonderful time in Seoul. "In five minutes I go to watch the swimming," he said. "This afternoon to the horses, the equestrians. I expect to see it all."
He then offered a scrap of philosophy as unmistakably Tiriac as his fearsome mustache. "You know, I think the millionaire tennis players are the only amateurs here. Steffi Graf wins this, and she doesn't earn a dime more. Same for Stefan Edberg. They have their endorsements and money already. They are on a vacation from capitalism, and they want only the medal. But all the others, at least part of the reason they want to win is so that they can market themselves, make some money, do some economics. The rich tennis players are the true amateurs. It's strange."
The elaborate Olympic medals given out in Seoul were quite beautiful, but they had one shortcoming: Each was attached to a ribbon by a coupling that could be screwed on or off. So in the natural turn of events, the medals would actually unscrew themselves as athletes wearing them walked about. Said Seth Bauer, coxswain for the bronze medal winning U.S. men's eights: "All day long I heard these clunks, and I'd turn around to see a rower picking up his medal."
The Bulgarian weightlifting team pulled out of the Olympics last Saturday, shortly after Angel Guenchev, a competitor in the 148-pound class, was stripped of his gold medal for testing positive for a banned diuretic that is often taken to mask the use of anabolic steroids. Two days earlier another Bulgarian, Mitko Grablev (123-pound class) had lost his gold medal for the same reason. In a prepared statement, the head of the Bulgarian weightlifting team said, "We reconfirm our firm stand against the use of forbidden substances by the athletes, which goes counter to the rules of fair competition and denounce the weightlifters' act."
Some insiders felt that the Bulgarians, who had won four of the five completed weight classes and were favored in the five still to be decided, were caught off guard by the sophistication of the drug testing in Seoul and that they withdrew to avoid further embarrassment. Two other lifters, a Hungarian and a Spaniard, were disqualified after testing positive for, respectively, a steroid and an amphetamine.
Richard Pound of Canada, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president—later to find himself in a very sticky national situation because of the Ben Johnson disqualification—had suggested that weightlifting be banned from the Games until the sport cleanses itself. And he planned to propose just that at the next IOC executive board meeting in December. "I think the drug use in weightlifting is so rampant it is really bad for the Olympics," Pound said. "It carries over and taints all other sports with the same bad image. We should maybe give them an eight-to-12-year ban and say, 'You'll be welcome back once you have cleaned up your act.' "
An outright ban seems radical, but clearly something has to be done. At the very least, Pound's proposal—coming from the man widely considered to be the second most powerful man in the IOC—might scare some sense into weightlifting officials. When Gottfried Sch�dl, the president of the International Weightlifting Federation, was told of Pound's suggestion, he said angrily: "If Mr. Pound thinks we should be out of the Olympics, tell him to tell it to me in the face, not to a journalist."
Sch�dl should save some of his outrage for the cheating that is ruining his sport.