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Caracas: A Scandal And A Warning
Craig Neff
September 05, 1983
The drug revelations that rocked the Pan Am Games put in motion a stringent new cleanup campaign
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September 05, 1983

Caracas: A Scandal And A Warning

The drug revelations that rocked the Pan Am Games put in motion a stringent new cleanup campaign

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"Maybe because they were stupid, you know," said Donike.

"There's always an ongoing struggle between the athletes and the chemists," said Dr. Anthony Daly, medical director of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. "And most times, I'd say, the athletes are a little bit ahead. But I think this time the chemists came up first."

A major disadvantage to U.S. athletes at an event like the Pan Am Games is that they have rarely experienced any kind of drug testing while competing at home. TAC, for example, has steadfastly refused to test athletes, even at national championship meets. On May 4, Dennis wrote to TAC Executive Director Ollan Cassell: "It seems to me that our concern with results...and our reluctance to carry out the testing because of what we may find is an open admission that this [illegal drug use] is occurring and indeed that we are condoning same."

Not only has Dennis pushed for testing, so have the medical committees of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) and the IOC. The U.S. has been more lax than Western European countries in testing for drugs, and at the end of last week Donike said, "I hope that some in the United States have learned a lesson."

On Long Island, Simon said that the USOC, using powers granted it by Congress under the Sports Act of 1978, would assume full responsibility for the testing of American athletes. "We need a uniform procedure, a procedure that everybody understands, [so] that everybody knows what's banned, who's going to be tested and what's going to be done after."

But should it have taken such an embarrassing situation to force Simon to take action? Says 1984 Olympic women's track and field Coach Brooks Johnson: "Everybody in any responsible position in amateur athletics, particularly in Olympics, knows that drugs have been a problem. To take this aggressive stance all of a sudden seems to be a dime late and a dollar short."

The USOC's move into drug testing may be interpreted by some national governing bodies as an encroachment onto their own turf. Advised that drug testing will no longer be TAC's prerogative, Cava said, "Mr. Simon apparently knows more about the rules of international track and field than we do, I guess." But does TAC acknowledge this assumption of power by the USOC? "Beats me," said Cava. "The guy [Simon] says a lot of stuff that leads anybody who's in sports to kinda sit there and say, 'Wait a minute. What is he talking about?' "

"TAC is going to be a problem anyway, because they always are," said Simon, adding that "one can view a conflict of interest in the national governing bodies doing their own testing." Asked if he planned to confer with TAC's Cassell in setting up the testing, Simon said, "I have absolutely no idea.... What I say stands anyway, so it doesn't make any difference."

Simon said he would appoint "a group of experts," including Bergman, to recommend testing procedures.

"This has been a time bomb waiting to explode—everybody knew that this abuse was occurring," said Simon. "We did a lot of talking about it and now [it's] time for action.... I promise you that we are going to have the procedures in place that to the best of all of our ability will end this evil once and for all."

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