Notes : Italy's Bordin Wins Marathon Gold Medal With a Strong Rally

From Staff and Wire Reports

On a muggy Sunday afternoon near the end of the men's marathon, Gelindo Bordin of Italy had conceded the gold medal.

With 2 1/2 miles left, he was fading fast; exhausted and defeated, the only color he was clinging to was bronze.

In a quirky and ever-changing race, however, Bordin suddenly found himself back in the fray with a mile left.

When the leaders, who he thought had left him for good, started to wilt before his eyes, Bordin charged forward, never hesitating.

He smiled as he quickly went from third place to the lead with just under a mile to go and then held on to win the last gold medal of the Seoul Games in 2 hours 10 minutes 32 seconds.

Bordin, 29, a surveyor, blew a kiss to the Olympic Stadium crowd and gave the sign of the cross as he headed down the final straightaway, then dropped to his knees and kissed the ground when he crossed the finish line.

"I am too tired even to be happy," he said after he took his victory lap.

Two and a half miles from the finish, Bordin could do nothing more than watch as Ahmed Saleh of Djibouti and Douglas Wakiihuri of Kenya strongly strided into what seemed to be a comfortable lead far ahead of him.

"At that stage, my only concern was to keep the bronze," Bordin said.

With a little more than a mile to go, Saleh and Wakiihuri began to struggle and Bordin steadily edged ever closer, finally to take the lead just outside Olympic Stadium.

"The last 2K (kilometers) was a war," he said.

Wakiihuri, the 1987 world champion, won the silver in 2:10.47 and Saleh took the bronze in 2:10.59.

Bordin, who finished third behind Wakiihuri and Saleh in the world championships last year, became the first Italian to win a gold medal in the marathon.

The race through the streets of Seoul and across the Han River began at 2:35 p.m. with the temperature at 76 degrees and the humidity at 74%. Unlike the women's marathon, which started in the cool of the morning, the men's event was scheduled in the afternoon to accommodate television coverage.

Halfway through the race, the temperature was 81 but the humidity had dropped considerably.

Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, stripped of his gold medal in the 100 meters after testing positive for steroid use, denied that he used the drug and promised to return to competition.

"When I do come back, I will be running the best race of my life," he said in his first public appearance since the controversy, speaking at the Canadian Black Achievement Awards in Toronto. "And, hopefully, I'll be setting the fastest time ever recorded in the world."

His new lawyer, Edward Futerman of Toronto, has instructed him not to talk to anyone, including his closest associates, whose role in Johnson's downfall is coming under increasing scrutiny.

In an interview with the Toronto Sun, Johnson adamantly insisted he "never took any banned substances.

"I'm innocent and I welcome the opportunity of proving it," he said. "I'm proud to be a Canadian and I would never do anything to hurt the people who support me."

The Jamaican-born sprinter said he received anti-inflammatory cortisone shots from his doctor, George Mario (Jamie) Astaphan, days before setting a world record of 9.79 seconds in the 100.

The only other medication he took was a concoction, fixed by Astaphan and taken throughout training, he told the newspaper.

Last summer, Johnson's leg injury prevented him from competing in Europe. Instead, Johnson visited Astaphan in St. Kitts, where he "started taking some pills to accelerate the healing process.

"I was told they would dissolve some blood clots in the leg. Jamie told me to take the pills, that they will help. But he didn't say what the pills contain.

"They worked well because I was running every day on the beach and the leg was coming around. So I returned to Toronto."

A U.S.-Soviet Union plan to help stop drug use, including plans to initiate random year-round testing of athletes during training, was announced Sunday by Olympic leaders of each country.

The seven-member panel, including Olympic medalists Edwin Moses and Sergei Bubka, will meet for the first time in Moscow next month.

The announcement was made by U.S. Olympic Committee president Robert Helmick and his Soviet counterpart, sports minister Marat Gramov. "We believe that the sports movement has gotten into a vicious circle (because of drugs)," Gramov said. "There is a lack of confidence, and that effects the entire Olympic movement."

Both sides said they would try to expand anti-doping agreements worldwide.

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