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NARDIL AND ASU
The beleaguered athletic program at Arizona State is in the news again because a psychiatrist hired as a consultant by the university has prescribed an antidepressant, Nardil, for some baseball players. The psychiatrist, Dr. James Gough, says the drug is effective in combating the kind of tension that brings on batting slumps.
Nardil is a dangerous, potentially lethal medication given mainly to severely depressed persons to keep them out of asylums. But Gough, who is paid $24,000 a year in consulting fees by the university, apparently views the medication as a remedy for much less serious stress and anxiety. With Nardil, he says, "We are able to teach people who 'choke under pressure' to overcome their fears in a very short time." Over the last eight years, he has dispensed the drug to some 900 ASU students, reportedly including eight athletes.
If taken with certain things, such as beer, cheese and wine, Nardil can induce uncontrollable high blood pressure and even death. "You can get it if you ask for it, and even if you don't," one unidentified ASU ballplayer told The Arizona Republic. Upset because he wasn't hitting, the player was sent by the coaching staff to Gough for help. Gough allegedly prescribed Nardil, which the player said he thought was a vitamin. "The doctor never told me anything about it," he said. "Just that it would make me feel better."
Gough insists, however, that he scrupulously warns patients of the drug's dire side effects. Still, Dr. Robert Voy, chief medical officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, says Nardil should be used only as a last resort in cases of extreme depression.
A panel of medical experts assembled by the university is investigating the use of the drug by ASU athletes. The Nardil probe is just the latest incident involving the school, which in the last 21 months has been penalized by the Pac-10 for violations in five sports.
The Nardil controversy played a part in the resignation last week of ASU athletic director Dick Tamburo and even had baseball coach Jim Brock thinking about resigning his job of 14 years (he later decided to remain as coach). Gough has occasionally prescribed Nardil for Brock, too.
PEDALING HER CASE
By the time Pat Hines had pedaled to Atlantic City, she was hallucinating 8-foot bunny rabbits. Mailboxes turned into surfboard-wielding pygmies and Amish farmers took on a Mephistophelian appearance. Having held the handlebars too tightly too long, her right fist was clenched in a grip that required surgery to unspring. After 12 days of last summer's Race Across America, she was experiencing the physical and psychic pain of 3,042 miles on a bike.
Though Hines finished in a tie with the other top woman, Shelby Hayden-Clifton, it didn't mean a thing. All four female entrants in the field of 23 were disqualified. A world-class cyclist and former All-America swimmer, Hines claims she and the other women were jobbed by a race rule that removes from contention any cyclist who reaches the Mississippi River Bridge near St. Louis 36 hours after the leader. Hines, who says she invested $40,000 and two years of training in the event, is threatening to sue the race organizers and ABC Sports for damages.