THE 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES : 6 Athletes Fail Tests for Drugs : Green, Two Others Stripped of Medals

Times Sports Editor

In a bizarre setting, U.S. hammer thrower Bill Green, silver medalist in the Pan American Games, was stripped of his medal after testing positive for excessive amounts of the male hormone testosterone.

Green, 27, of Torrance, finished second in competition here Aug. 10, behind teammate Jud Logan of North Canton, Ohio. Logan threw 253 feet 5 inches, a Pan Am record, and Green 250-4.

The announcement of Green's positive drug test was made at a press conference that included:

--The naming of five other athletes, none of them from the United States, as having had positive drug tests.

--The announcement by Mario Vazquez Rana, president of the Pan American Sports Organization, that two or three more athletes have tested positive and that their names would come to light soon. Other sources later said that two U.S. track and field athletes were in that group

--A statement by the United States Olympic Committee that Green has advised them he will challenge the test procedures and results. The exact form of the challenge was not specified, but the implication was that he would sue PASO.

--Continuing contradictions by Rana and the acting medical chief of PASO, Eduardo DeRose, over how many medalists are being tested, and what PASO's testing procedures really are.

The other athletes named as having tested positive to one of the more than 3,700 drugs on the banned list of the International Olympic Committee were Bernardo Ocando of Venezuela in shooting, Javier Jimenez of Colombia in weightlifting, Orlando Vasquez-Mendose of Nicaragua in weightlifting, Pedro Torres of Venezuela in weightlifting and Elnes Bollings of the U.S. Virgin Islands in basketball.

Ocando, a bronze medalist in individual pistol shooting and a silver medalist in the team event, tested positive for a beta blocker, which slows the heart rate. Jimenez and Torres, neither of whom won a medal, tested positive for a strength-enhancing steroid. Vasquez-Mendose, who won a bronze medal, tested positive for a diuretic normally taken to achieve a weight loss. Bollings, who won no medal, tested positive for a stimulant found in an over-the-counter drug used for dieting.

Green was the only one in the group to test positive for testosterone. Steroids are synthetic forms of the same thing, usually producing the same goal--increased strength. Rana's announcement said that Green was at a ratio of 11.2-1, testosterone to epitestosterone. A normal male ratio is around 1-1, and the ratio level the IOC has established to call an athlete positive is 6-1.

"We had a lot of discussion about that before the '84 Olympics," said Dr. Tony Daly of Los Angeles, who was in charge of drug testing at the '84 Olympics. "The Germans did a lot of testing about that prior to '84, and they said the most natural testosterone ratio levels they ever found in males was 2.5-1. So, to be fair and to just make doubly sure we were correct, what the IOC did before the '84 Games was double the 2.5 and add one more, probably for good measure, arrived at a cutoff of 6-1."

Green had left Indianapolis by the time the announcement of his drug test was made. Reached at his home in Torrance, he said, "I really don't have anything to say at this time."

The USOC statement on Green that implied future legal activity said, in part: "The athlete has advised the USOC that he wishes to pursue further remedies to challenge the testing procedures and results."

Green was the only United States finalist in the hammer throw in the '84 Olympics, eventually finishing sixth. He held U.S. records in his event twice in '84, and his last U.S. record, 251 feet, was broken by Logan, the current U.S. record-holder, just before the Olympics in '84.

Green, who threw a personal best of 255 feet in April in a dual meet in Los Angeles, competed for Cal State Long Beach and is currently coached by Art Venegas. Venegas, UCLA's weight-event coach, who directs Green's training program at West L.A. College, did not return phone calls.

After the competition here last week, the Indianapolis News ran a story under a six-column headline that said: "Hammer Thrower Says Steroids Not a Problem." The story quoted the winner, Logan, as saying ABC television commentator Marty Liquori, who said there is epidemic drug use in track and field, was incorrect.

"We want to prove Americans innocent," Logan said. "We want things fair when we compete."

Also, Logan said in his post-victory press conference: "I feel lucky to win the gold, because Bill Green competed much better than I did today. He threw much closer to his personal best than I did."

Vazquez Rana, the wealthy Mexican who has been a prime mover for years in the IOC and is the owner of United Press International news service, was under heavy pressure at his press conference Monday to clear up contradictions on how PASO did its testing.

Last week, DeRose stirred up controversy when he told reporters that, unlike at most international events, not all medalists would be tested in the Pan Am Games. DeRose said that which athletes and how many tested in each sport would be up to each sport's federation to determine.

But when Vazquez Rana was reached on that subject, he contradicted his own medical chief and said that all medalists were to be tested.

And Monday, there was more of the same, even though DeRose, contacted by reporters just shortly before Vazquez Rana's press conference, stuck to his story. All this left many with the distinct feeling that the right hand of PASO had no idea what the left hand was doing.

Vazquez Rana said: "It is the obligation of our committee to test every single person who wins. If this was not done, it was a mistake. We want to be very clean."

Then, a bit later, he said: "I cannot accept in any manner that there would have been an error in this. In the case where there was a medal, that person must be tested. Everybody who has a medal has been tested.

And still later: "Doping is one of the most delicate works we perform. That's why there can be no mistake. . . . Dr. DeRose does what we, the executive committee, tells him to do. . . . I spoke with him five minutes before I came here, and he tells me all is well."

But all is certainly not well in PASO drug testing. Nor does it come across as sensible.

Vazquez Rana even went so far as to say that, not only were all individual medalists being tested here, but that all members of medal-winning teams were tested or would be tested.

"It is absolutely impossible that anyone receiving a medal not be tested," he said.

That drew a laugh from Daly, when contacted in Los Angeles. Daly's drug testing people followed the normal IOC practices at the '84 Olympics of testing medal winners, plus down to fourth and fifth place in most sports, plus some randoms, plus a random sampling--but certainly not all members--of a medal winning team.

The very arithmetic of the situation seemed to indicate that Vazquez Rana was wrong. There are 284 medal events at the Pan Am Games, meaning that, multiplied by 3, there would be 852 medals awarded if each of the events were an individual event. But if each member of each medal winning team was tested, that would add more than 500 additional tests, or nearly 500 more tests than the total of 1,070 that PASO announced it could handle and afford.

Dr. Ronald Blankenbaker, head of the Indianapolis organizing committee's medical services group, indicated as diplomatically as he could that Vazquez Rana was wrong.

"We made an effort to test as many medal winners as we could, but I honestly can't say that we reached that goal," Blankenbaker said.

When asked about Vazquez Rana's statement that all members of medal winning teams were tested, Blankenbaker laughed and refused to comment any further.

It is possible that one of the other U.S. track and field athletes whose test might have showed positive will be discus thrower Art Burns of San Jose, who finished fifth in the Pan Am competition last Wednesday.

Burns, when contacted Monday, said that the first sample of his drug test had been detained and that PASO wanted to test the second sample. He said that his samples did not contain any banned drugs, but that they contained traces from his nutritional program, which included amino acids.

He also said that he had been assured that he faced no sanctions, and that PASO was just fact finding, but that both his national track federation (TAC), the international federation (IAAF) and the USOC were fighting the second test.

"The PASO, they're going crazy," Burns said, from San Jose. "They're running amok, and USOC is trying to muzzle them. TAC stood up for me. They're trying to put these guys in their place. It's a completely bizarre situation."

The name of the other U.S. track athlete is expected to be announced in the next few days.

Times staff writer Curt Holbreich contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World