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Drug-Test Results Are Questioned : One Positive Not Enough, USOC Medical Officer Voy Says

Times Staff Writer

Saying that he expected to take heat for his remarks, Dr. Robert Voy, the United States Olympic Committee’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that he is dubious about results of drug tests at last summer’s U.S. and World Track and Field Championships.

Voy emphasized that he has no evidence that positive drug tests were suppressed at either meet. He said, however, that he was skeptical because there were no positive results announced at the national meet last June in San Jose and only one at the World Championships last month in Rome.

“I am amazed that at any track and field event, there are no positives,” he said. “It’s impossible to perceive that would be the case.”

When it was pointed out to him that there was one positive at the world championships, Voy said, “One is not enough.”

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Voy made his comments to reporters after delivering a speech to the General Assn. of International Sports Federations at the Broadmoor Hotel here.

A short time later, Voy was proved correct on at least one thing he said. He did take heat.

After speaking to Voy, reporters approached Ollan Cassell, executive director of The Athletics Congress, track and field’s national governing body, and a vice president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the sport’s world governing body. He is the highest-ranking IAAF official here.

“He can say whatever he wants to say,” Cassell said. “If that’s what he says, that’s what he says.”

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Cassell then left the room and confronted Voy. They spoke for 15 minutes outside the conference center.

Asked later to describe his conversation with Cassell, Voy smiled and said, “No comment.”

Voy said that his observations were based on his own research and international drug testing results, which indicate that about 2% of athletes’ tests are positive. He said that between 2% and 3% of the U.S. athletes he tests are discovered to have used banned substances.

Of 192 athletes tested in Rome, only Sandra Gasser, a Swiss 1,500-meter runner, was announced by the IAAF as having tested positive.

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A bronze medalist at the World Championships, she was announced as having tested positive for testosterone, a male hormone, two weeks after IAAF President Primo Nebiolo had said there were no positives on the day she ran.

Voy said it was his understanding that the Swiss track and field federation was aware that Gasser had used the drug and pressured the IAAF to reveal her positive result.

“I don’t know whether (athletes) were tested or whether the samples were thrown down the sink,” Voy said. “In my mind, one positive for the track and field championships is unbelievable.”

Voy said his comments would be supported in a speech here today by Belgium’s Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s drug commission.

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But de Merode said Thursday that his speech will not implicate the IAAF.

Furthermore, he said he does not believe the IAAF suppressed positive drug results in Rome but that athletes escaped detection because of substances they are taking that mask drug use.

“Nothing was pushed under the table,” de Merode said. “Certainly not.

“Of course, (Voy) is a doctor. He has his opinions. Generally, we are in accordance. I trust him. But on this point, I am not sure he is right.”

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When de Merode’s comments were relayed to Voy, he said: “He knows better than I. I will yield to the Prince’s opinion because he has a better ear to that than I do.

“I’m not accusing anyone of suppressing results. I’m just dubious of any track and field event that doesn’t find more than one positive.”


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