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For the most part, though, the two reacted differently to their suspensions. Barnes fought the two governing bodies that suspended him, TAC and the International Amateur Athletic Federation, tooth and nail, draining himself emotionally and emptying his bank account of the $200,000 it once contained. He has sued TAC and the IAAF for a total of $50 million in U.S. circuit court in Charleston, W.Va., and is awaiting a ruling.
As angry as Barnes gets when he discusses his case, he becomes virtually apoplectic in discussing Stulce's. "Mike was trashed," says Barnes. "He had no money, so he wasn't a threat. He got no consideration. I don't know how he got through it."
While Barnes seethes, Stulce remains stoic. "Randy is consumed by the feeling of being helpless," says Stulce. "He'll probably be a little disappointed in me for not having spoken up, but I've learned to put it behind me."
One wonders if he really can. The perception that the shot put and drugs are inextricably linked is widespread—Barnes says he has been fielding questions about steroids since his junior year in high school—and not without reason. A few years ago, a world-class shot-putter said privately that he believed everyone who had thrown 70 feet had used drugs. He did not claim to have firsthand knowledge about the 40 or so athletes his pronouncement included, but it was an educated guess.
If what this shot-putter says is true, drug-free competitions, at least initially, will do little to rekindle fan interest. Says Hill of Track & Field News, "Who wants to watch guys throw 60 feet when we saw them throw 70 feet a few years ago?"
So what can be done? One IAAF official has suggested changing the weight of the shot and starting from scratch with new records. The new specifications would make it impossible to compare new records with old ones, thus sparing the sport the embarrassment of coming face-to-face with its tainted past.
That's an intriguing idea, and one recently adopted with slight variations by two other governing bodies. In December the German track and field federation, in apparent recognition of its drug-riddled past, decided to erase its national records in all events—runs, jumps and throws. For the same reason, the International Weightlifting Federation recently changed its weight classes, wiping out all existing world records.
However, these plans make sense only if testing is infallible, and that isn't the case. There are not only agents that can mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs, but also some substances, like human-growth hormone, that cannot be detected by current testing methods. Even blood testing, which is often held up as a panacea, cannot detect all banned substances. What's the sense of replacing one set of tainted marks with another?
As various schemes are debated, Stulce and Barnes battle doggedly into an uncertain future. "We can take 30 tests this year and nobody's going to believe us," says Barnes. "I plan to break my record again; when I do, I know exactly what's going to be said about me. That's pretty bleak."
Says Stulce, "I don't know what lies ahead for the shot."