Frank Shorter, winner of two shiny Olympic track and field medals, believes the quickest way to clear the tarnish of drug abuse in the sport is by constant testing.
“If you don’t blood-test once a month and urine-test once a month, you won’t stop it,” said Shorter, in Washington for the annual meeting of The Athletics Congress.
At Yale in 1969, Shorter said, “my first roommate was on drugs. I can’t say we’ve gone backward since then, but I can’t say we’ve gone forward either. People still are taking drugs. It’s been 20 years.”
Shorter, 1972 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s marathon and the 1976 silver medalist, said it is “tragic that after all that time, athletes can still get away with it. Someone who gets caught for steroids has botched his cycle.”
“My question to Ben Johnson is: How did you blow it, Ben?” Shorter said.
Johnson, the Canadian sprinter, won the 1988 Olympic men’s 100-meter dash in world record time, then was disqualified and stripped of the gold medal after testing positive for anabolic steroids.
Shorter conceded that with so many countries involved in the sport it is difficult to enforce drug-testing programs throughout the world.
“What country wants to blink and go cold turkey on human growth hormones and steroid issues?” Shorter asked.
“If you’re in the top 20 in your country, you’ve got to have a monthly blood test and a monthly urine test--or don’t have testing at all.”
One of track and field’s major problems, Shorter said, is “there is no benign dictator running the show.”
Although past his prime, Shorter, 42, still is deeply involved in track and field and other sports.
He runs some road races, competes in biathlons races in bicycling time trials, and is a track and field commentator for NBC-TV.