THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 6 : Notes : Bulgarian, Australian Disqualified for Drugs
The first two doping disqualifications of the Seoul Olympics were announced Thursday, and both appeared to be the product of extremely illogical thinking on the part of the penalized athletes.
Mitko Grablev of Bulgaria, who won the gold medal in the 123-pound weightlifting class Monday night, was found with furosemide in his system. And Alexander Watson of Australia, who stood 12th Thursday morning going into the final running event of the modern pentathlon, was disqualified because of excessive caffeine.
Neither disqualification was subject to further appeal, according to Michele Verdier, director of information for the International Olympic Committee, who made the announcement Thursday morning. She said the IOC’s executive committee had reviewed the matters and upheld the ruling of the federations concerned.
Neither situation made much sense.
In the case of Grablev--who will forfeit his gold medal to Oxen Mirzoian of the Soviet Union, with the silver going to He Yingqiang of China and the bronze to be announced--furosemide is a diuretic that he would likely take to drop enough weight to stay under the prescribed 123 pounds.
However, furosemide is also known to be non-soluble in water, thereby staying in the athlete’s system for a long period of time and rendering it easily detectable.
Diuretics are also taken by athletes to disguise the use of anabolic steroids.
In Watson’s case, his urine test showed he had 14.5 parts to 1 microgram caffeine in his system. The allowable amount is 12 parts to 1. The strange part with Watson’s test was that he tested positive after the fencing portion of the modern pentathlon. Caffeine is a stimulant, and jangled nerves are not exactly what a fencer is seeking prior to competition.
“This has never happened before,” said Pyciak-Peciak, coach of American modern pentathlete Bob Nieman. “To have someone use caffeine for fencing is so unusual. Usually, it is beta-blockers (which slow respiration and heartbeat) for shooting. You wouldn’t want to be more nervous for fencing, and that’s what caffeine would do.”
Watson’s score in the fencing portion of the modern pentathlon was 711, which was among the bottom half of the competitors in that event and his lowest score by far of the four events he was in. He did not compete in the cross country run, the final event Thursday.
The boxing venue, home of the controversial and bizarre throughout these Games, started the day with 2 disqualifications only a few hours before the melee in the ring over the South Korean boxer’s loss.
The 2 disqualified were John Mirona of Sudan and Ulaipalota Tauatama of Western Samoa in the 126-pound class. They missed the daily weigh-in for unspecified reasons and were ousted from the tournament. A new draw was made for the weight class.
Are the locals really big here? A U.S. newspaperman was riding in a taxi Wednesday night about the time South Korean Kim Young Nam won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. His taxi driver, listening on the radio, stopped at an intersection, got out and hugged a dozen or so other taxi drivers who had also left their vehicles to celebrate.
Ellen Berger, the East German chairman of the women’s International Gymnastics Federation technical committee, told reporters on Monday that the .5-point deduction suffered by the U.S. team for having too many gymnasts on the podium was enforced on a U.S. women’s team at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow.
Not so, says Don Peters, who coached the 1981 team.
“It was a similar situation,” Peters said. “We were on the uneven bars, and we were aware of the rule. It was my first international competition and I wasn’t trusting my alternates to remove the springboard. So my assistant, Roe Kreutzer, went out to remove the board and she sort of slipped and stumbled as she pulled the board away. Then, instead of scrambling to get off, she decided to stay there. “After the competition was over, the superior judge warned us about it, but the team never received a deduction for it.”
Peters said in international competition, there are a lot of obscure rules that need to be observed.
“I mean, they even have this rule that a gymnast cannot leave the arena unless they receive permission from the superior judge,” Peters said. “If they leave without permission, the team can get a deduction. That means every time a gymnast has to go to the bathroom she has to go up and ask the judge. Well, I used to make my team ask her and usually the judge would just roll her eyes . . . but I didn’t want to take the chance. That’s just the way it is.”
Best line of the day: Cynthia Cooper, U.S. women’s basketball player, said of the U.S. men’s team, “They’re enjoying themselves. They’ve been kept away from us, so we’re not sure how much they’re enjoying themselves.”
Contributing to this story were Times staff writers Mark Heisler, Tracy Dodds and Maryann Hudson.