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It had not been the best of nights for athletes fresh from Helsinki triumphs. West Germany's 800-meter champion, Willi Wülbeck, faded in the stretch. David Mack of the U.S. did what he couldn't do in his semifinal in Helsinki. He escaped a box with 150 meters to go and won going away in 1:44.43. "I didn't really think of it as revenge against Wülbeck," said Mack, who nonetheless ran so hard that these remarks were delivered in spurts, along with portions of his lunch. "It was just to let people know I should have been in the Helsinki finals."
That compensatory urge was clear in many events. Calvin Smith, who had lost the Helsinki 100 meters to Carl Lewis by two yards, lost by only five inches in Berlin, 10.07 to 10.09. Smith was off to a clearly superior start. "But I wasn't used to being ahead at 75 meters," Smith said. "I relaxed a little, and he caught me."
Lewis was happy with a win by any margin. He had run through clouds of rumor since an Oslo newspaper had reported three days earlier that his testosterone test in Helsinki had been positive. "The writer was just a kid, it seemed to me," said Lewis. "He had absolutely no basis for it, just his feeling that nobody could do what I've done without artificial aid. Basically it was a guess. A destructive guess."
To counter the spread of the tale, the IAAF medical chairman, Dr. Arne Ljunqvist of Sweden, released Lewis' test, which showed his testosterone level to be in perfectly normal proportion to his other hormone levels.
Nonetheless, the story had given Lewis three long days. "If that had kept on, the suspicion," he said after the 100, "I'd have gone home."
As it was, relieved after his win, he playfully leaned near a German reporter's microphone and, exhibiting his schooling in television, gave a creditable call of the mile. "Brian Theriot of the U.S. takes the early lead," he said, "followed by Mike Boit of Kenya, Sydney Maree and, back in fifth, Steve Scott. The first quarter is 56.38, good pace, but they're slowing a little on the second backstretch. That's letting Scott and John Walker [of New Zealand] improve their positions.
"The half is in 1:54.50, which anyone who can add knows is 3:49 pace. Theriot is probably a rabbit, but he's a good one because he didn't drop out at the half. Whoops, he dropped out about a hundred yards later. But Boit takes over without a letdown. Maree is after him, and the roar you hear is for West Germany's Thomas Wessinghage in third. Scott and Walker are still fourth and fifth.
"The three-quarter is 2:53.60. Boit still leads, but now [with 300 to run] Maree moves out. Scott isn't going to let him get away. He kicks with 200 left. Off the last turn, it's Scott going wide into the lead and Walker going wider to chase him. He can't catch him, and Scott wins it in 3:49.21, which I believe is the fastest time in the world this year."
He believed right, though the time might have been even faster. "I could have taken off with a full lap to go and maybe cut one more second off," said Scott, "but I was conservative. I was flat emotionally. I went into it almost like a workout."
This, of course, was the not unnatural residue of his disappointment three days before, when he had been second to Britain's Steve Cram in the slow-paced, tactical World Championship 1,500 meters, 3:41.59 to 3:41.87. (By contrast, he passed 1,500 in the Berlin mile in 3:35.36.)