Kevin Hall has done everything in his power to be an Olympian.
The 34-year-old sailor from Bowie dominated the Finn class competition at
the team trials in Florida in February. He and his wife have "burnt through
our savings and run up as much debt as we could afford" to get him trained and
equipped. He's in Europe now competing against the men he expects to face at
the Summer Games.
But several times a month, Hall, a survivor of testicular cancer, does
something the International Olympic Committee has, so far, deemed
unacceptable: He injects himself with testosterone.
Now, he says, he needs the IOC "to do right by me" and declare him eligible
to compete in Athens.
Hall has gotten the approval of the International Sailing Federation to
compete in its events. The U.S. Olympic Committee also approved him for
competition. But the IOC, which considers testosterone a performance-enhancing
substance, has not yet made an exception for his medical situation.
It is a distraction a world-class athlete doesn't need in the months
leading up to the six days of competition that begin Aug. 14.
"I just have to deal with it," says Hall, a solidly built 6-footer with red
hair who grew up in California. "Now, it's a matter of the right person
lifting the right rubber stamp at the right time."
Hall says regular blood tests indicate he's within the normal parameters
for the hormone that keeps bones and muscles strong and his mental health on
an even keel.
"I have the same testosterone levels as the other competitors," he says.
"Instead of it coming naturally, it's a needle. It isn't something I want to
do. It's something I have to do."
As a student at Brown University in Providence, R.I., Hall was a three-time
All-American. In his senior year in 1990, he was diagnosed with cancer and had
surgery to remove a testicle.
In a remarkable show of strength, he was back sailing competitively for the
intercollegiate national title less than a month after surgery. He finished
second in the Laser class, a 14-foot dinghy sailed solo. Hall graduated in
1991 with honors with degrees in mathematics and French literature.
In 1991, he won his first North American championship. In December 1992, he
had a checkup while preparing for the world championship and learned the
cancer was back.
During the next two months, he had first his lymph nodes removed and then
the other testicle. Testosterone therapy was prescribed to replace the
substance his body no longer produced.
Nursing his health, Hall didn't race from January 1993 until March 1995.
In 1996, while he was trying to make the Olympics as a sailor in the Laser
class, he went public with his story in an attempt to get a waiver from the
USOC. The distraction affected his performance, he says, and he finished fifth
in the team trials.
"I think there were people who wanted me to lose so that the problem would
go away," he says.
In 2000, Hall and Morgan Larson competed in the two-man 49er trials and
finished second, again pushing off the need for IOC officials to rule on his
This year, they have no choice.
"It's not as if I'm surprising them with this condition," Hall says. "The
difference is I'm on the Olympic team now and I'm fairly optimistic that will
make the difference."