THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 14 : Notes : Britain’s Linford Christie Fails Initial Drug Test
Two British athletes, sprinter Linford Christie and a judo medalist, tested positive for drugs in the first round of testing, the British Olympic Assn. said Friday.
Christie, a former European champion and a silver medalist in the men’s 100 meters, tested positive for pseudoephedrine, association spokeswoman Caroline Searle said.
Searle described the drug as “a low-dose stimulant found in cold and hay fever preparations.”
The timing of the tests would indicate that the urine samples were taken after Wednesday’s 200-meter race, in which Christie finished fourth.
Britain’s Independent Television Network said Kerrith Brown, judo bronze medalist in the 156-pound division, had confirmed that he was subjected to a second test, although the BOA still had not announced the name of the judo competitor involved.
“I don’t know what it is they have found. I have just got to wait and see,” ITN quoted Brown as saying.
In the 100 meters last Saturday, Christie became the silver medalist after Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for muscle-building steroids and was stripped of his gold medal and world record. American Carl Lewis was awarded the gold. Christie was tested in that case, too, and no trace of drugs was found.
Searle said “a full and frank case” for the two athletes has been prepared to present to the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, whose final decision might not be known until Saturday morning.
The IOC policy is not to say anything about doping cases until it can announce a decision. By then, it says, two samples will have been tested and the athletes, coaches and officials involved will have had a chance to present their explanations and defenses.
Under rules adopted a year ago by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), pseudoephedrine has been placed in a category called “inadvertent use"--created to protect athlete who inadvertently use a medicine containing a banned substance.
The rules call for 3 months’ suspension, however, in practice no action usually is taken against the athlete.
Several U.S. athletes tested positive within this category during the Olympic track and field trials and still made the U.S. team.
According to sources, the London-based Christie has been suffering from a cough for several days and the traces of the stimulant pseudoephedrine found in his system came from a nasal spray he was using.
Although no details have been revealed about what drug was found in Brown’s sample, sources say the substance must have been in a pill he took for a knee injury.
The BOA is confident that both athletes will be cleared by the medical commission.
“Both men are simply innocent victims,” said one BOA official who declined to be identified.
Track and field athletes Thursday called for an inquiry into the source of the drugs taken by Johnson and pledged their support for an anti-doping campaign by the IAAF.
Olympic pole vault champion Sergei Bubka, American 400-meter hurdles bronze medalist Edwin Moses and women’s marathon winner Rosa Mota of Portugal were among the athletes calling for action against drug users and their suppliers.
President Park Seh Jik of the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, not easily accessible to the press, met with a group of 15 foreign journalists this week in an informal session in which he addressed some of the issues of the Games. As always, his statements were made with great care.
--On the topic of Ben Johnson’s doping and whether he felt the Seoul Games would now go down in everyone’s memories as the Doping Games: “I was saddened. I couldn’t believe such a renowned athlete could become such a victim. It is very very bad for a human being to make such a decision. It was a hard thing for the medical commission to do, but they had to make this an example. . . . Seoul is not the only place where there is this problem. . . . They will find that no country is safe. There is no sanctuary for doping.”
--On the current anti-American stance in South Korean newspapers, appearing to be a backlash at NBC’s handling of the South Korean boxing melee: “The media can play a role in the Olympic motto of Peace, Harmony and Progress. They can be bridgemakers. . . . If the negative is stressed, there is no bridge. In my organization of SLOOC, I have stressed this. It is a sad thing if there is a turn between the two countries. Perhaps NBC could have considered my remarks about making bridges.”
--On whether South Korean papers have unfairly placed a focus on the two U.S. swimmers who stole a $900 decoration from the Hyatt Hotel here: “I have to leave that to the judgment of the journalists. I believe they are very attentive to the mood of our country.”
He missed the boat: U.S. boxer Anthony Hembrick, who missed a bus to the arena and was eliminated in a first-round walkover, is not the only Olympian having trouble with the clock.
Philippe Boccara of France, one of the top kayakers in Europe, was disqualified from the canoe-kayak regatta after failing to arrive at the start line on time for a semifinal race.
Boccara and his partner, Pascal Boucherit, were disqualified in the kayak doubles 1,000-meter race. In addition, Boccara will not be allowed to compete in the singles 1,000-meter race for which he had qualified earlier.
“After my K-1 race I was taking a rest in the local room,” Boccara said. “I was tired. My partner was not in great shape this morning and he was relaxing also. We were late to the start, but we still had time. We were pushing so hard to get there, Pascal’s foot brace broke near the start line.”
“We signaled to our coach on the bicycle but he couldn’t get a new foot brace in time.”
Boccara and his wife live in Newport Beach, where he is a chiropractor.
They lose, he wins: An American officiated the Olympic men’s basketball tournament final for the first time, in the first championship game without a U.S. team. Those two footnotes are related.
Joe Forte of Atlanta officiated the gold-medal game in which the Soviet Union defeated Yugoslavia.
Forte already has worked five Final Fours and two National Collegiate Athletic Assn. championship games. He will begin his first season as a National Basketball Assn. referee this fall after 17 season seasons as an NCAA referee.
An American had not officiated the Olympic final because of a rule that states a referee can not work a game involving a team from his own country.
Color blind bind: When Soviet light-heavyweight boxer Mourmagome Shanavazov knocked down his Italian opponent, he was a bit puzzled when the Egyptian referee started a standing 8-count on the Soviet fighter.
The referee was reminded by the judges that he was giving the mandatory count to the wrong person. He turned to the Italian and started to count again, much to the delight of the crowd.
Both boxers were wearing red uniforms.
So long: More than 3,300 athletes and officials have checked out of the Athletes Village, 4 days before the closing ceremony.
NBA basketball players may be allowed to play at the Olympics if a rule is changed by a special meeting of the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA) next April.
The Federation’s general secretary Borislav Stankovic said the question would be discussed at a FIBA extraordinary world congress in Barcelona.
Stankovic, of Yugoslavia, said FIBA’s central board believes NBA players should be included in international tournaments.
“FIBA now has 178 member countries and there are 250 million people playing the game in literally every corner of the world. FIBA feels it isn’t right to exclude only 300, who are the best in the world,” he said.
“No athlete or basketball player at the top level does not receive money, and therefore from a moral standpoint it isn’t right to exclude (NBA players) because they admit it.”
The last vote by FIBA on allowing NBA players to compete in internationals was 31-27 against with 25 abstentions.
Players from other countries compete in professional leagues, but they are eligible for the Olympics and world championships because their salaries are not paid directly. The money goes to the national federation, which pays the players’ expenses.
In Madrid, the Soviet Union will seek a ruling that only two NBA players be allowed to compete on a national team, Stankovic said.
NBC gave its peacock another black eye as far as South Koreans are concerned. A production director ordered “offensive” sweat shirts made for 48 network boxing technicians as Olympic souvenirs.
A clothing shop owner in Itaewon refused to make the shirts, which included the words “We’re boxing,” “We’re bad” and “Chaos Tour ’88" and showed two boxers inside the yin-and-yang symbol on the South Korean national flag.
NBC Sports President Arthur Watson quickly issued an apology. “The offensive T-shirts, designed by a group of people in one of our production areas, were not approved by NBC Sports,” Watson said. “No one working for NBC intended to offend Korea or the Korean people. NBC realizes that the proposed slogans could be misinterpreted. NBC understands that any people would be upset when their flag is defaced.”
Hello, goodby: Former University of Pittsburgh football star Dennis Atiyeh made an inauspicious debut as a member of Syria’s Olympic wrestling team in competition at Sangmu Gymnasium.
Atiyeh, whose family immigrated to the United States when he was a young child, drew 1985 world champion David Gobedjichvili of the Soviet Union--a mismatch--for his first-round preliminary in the super-heavyweight (286 pounds) division.
Gobedjichvili was awarded a technical fall on superiority with 1:12 left in the match after building up a 17-0 lead.
Atiyeh’s older brother, Joe, won a silver medal for Syria as a heavyweight (220 pounds) at the 1984 Olympics.
No comment: According to a European news agency, Ben Johnson has sold his story, such as it is, to the huge West German magazine, Stern.
The report says Johnson made the deal in the wee hours after he was told he had tested positive for anabolic steroids, but before he left Seoul for Toronto.
The magazine reportedly sent a reporter and photographer back to Canada with Johnson, who was said to have been paid $1 million for the story.
The magazine comes out Monday.
Times sports editor Bill Dwyre contributed to this story.