Track superstar Carl Lewis said today it is his “guess” that as many as 10 Olympic medals last summer went to athletes using anabolic steroids, and he urged random testing at all levels of sports competition.
“We want to elevate ourselves ethically to the point where everyone sacrifices ourselves to make the sport clean,” the three-time Olympian and winner of six gold medals told a congressional subcommittee.
Lewis received a gold medal in the 100-meter dash at last summer’s Olympics in South Korea after the first contestant to cross the finish line, Canada’s Ben Johnson, tested positive for anabolic steroids, compounds that develop strength and speed but which are banned as dangerous drugs.
Lewis told members of the House Judiciary Committee’s crime subcommittee he feels certain that other medal winners also were steroid users.
“I would say at least five to 10, if I had to guess . . . and some of those were gold medals,” said Lewis, in answer to a question from Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.).
Members of the subcommittee, which is weighing proposed legislation to ban mail-order steroids, did not ask Lewis the names of other users who may have won medals. He ducked the question when reporters asked him after the hearing.
“That’s not the issue,” he said. “The issue is that it should be zero.”
He departed from the view of a number of other athletes as well as civil liberties groups when asked about testing.
“I think we’re getting to the point where we have to randomly,” Lewis said. “It’s at every level.”
He also called for investigation of coaches who may be working with steroid suppliers and forcing athletes to use the substances. He said some coaches deliberately train athletes the wrong way if they refuse to take the drugs as a way of prodding them to do so.
Other coaches may be slipping steroids into the vitamins of the athletes under their supervision, Lewis said.