Olympic champion Carl Lewis and three club teammates on an 800-meter relay team were barred from an international track meet this weekend by the sport's U.S. governing body, British officials said today.
The British Amateur Athletics Board said it had been told by The Athletics Congress, U.S. track's ruling federation, that Lewis and three other members of the Santa Monica Track Club had been refused permission to compete.
TAC denied, however, that it banned the athletes.
"We don't have the power to ban athletes at a meet on British soil," Pete Cava, a public information spokesman for TAC, said at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis.
"Our contract with the meet promoter calls for the national team to compete, and the four athletes are not on our four by two relay team."
"We told the British that if they wanted a four by two relay team from the United States, the national team would supply one."
The United States, the Soviet Union, West Germany and Britain meet at Alexandra Stadium Friday and Saturday in one of the major events of the European track season.
Set Sights on France
In New York, Lewis' business manager, Joe Douglas, said Lewis and his teammates will try to set a world record in the 4x200 meters in France Friday instead.
"If they won't let us run there, (in Birmingham) we will go to St. Denis (France) and try to break the world record there," Douglas told Reuters news service.
"The difference is we won't have any competition. If we had run in England, the Soviets have a good team and we could have possibly set the record there. Now it will be more difficult."
Lewis, Olympic 200-meter champion Joe DeLoach and Danny Everett, all from the Santa Monica Track Club, did not compete in the U.S. track and field championships last weekend in Houston, where the U.S. team was picked. The fourth Santa Monica runner, Floyd Heard, won the 200-meter run at the meet with a 20.9 clocking.
The Santa Monica athletes and TAC have been feuding, but Lewis has denied he boycotted the meet. Everett was graduated from UCLA on the day of the finals.
Running as Independents
The four planned to run at Birmingham as an independent squad to try to break the world record in the 800-meter relay. They would have run against four national teams, including the British squad led by Linford Christie, who finished second to Lewis in the Olympic 100 meters last summer.
But the British board said it had been told by TAC executive director Ollan Cassell that U.S. club teams would not be allowed to run against national teams in meets where a U.S. national squad was competing.