TRACK AND FIELD / MT. SAC RELAYS : TAC Suspends Myricks for Cold Medicine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Athletics Congress drug net widened Friday night as Larry Myricks, the 34-year-old world class long jumper, was suspended for three months, April 13-July 13, for taking Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus.

The action follows by one day the suspension of hurdler Greg Foster for the same offense.

Myricks tested positive at the TAC indoor championships Feb. 23 in New York. He told TAC officials that he was taking the medication to combat flu symptoms he says persist.

Moreover, it is strongly rumored in the track community that at least 20 more athletes will be suspended by TAC, the U.S. track and field governing body, for taking cold medicines, or similar non-prescription drugs.

UCLA triple jumper McArthur Anderson was recently suspended for three months by TAC for taking Sudafed, a common allergy medicine.

The suspension doesn't affect his collegiate eligibility because the NCAA doesn't ban athletes for substances found in such common medicines.

UCLA Coach Bob Larsen said the staff in the school's training room recommended the medicine to Anderson.

Myricks' suspension came on the eve of the Evelyn Ashford Invitational portion of the Mazda Mt. San Antonio Relays that begin today in Walnut.

The banned substance found in Alka-Seltzer is pheynylpropanolamine.

"It's definitely over-kill," said Myricks, who can't compete in the TAC outdoor championships in June or the Goodwill Games in July. His suspension will have ended by the Goodwill Games, but athletes are required to to compete in the TAC meet to be eligible for the Goodwill Games.

There is an appeal process, but Myricks doesn't expect to get any relief from that forum.

"The conditions (under which) you go into the appeal aren't the greatest because you can't appeal with logical documentation," Myricks said. "In my case I have all kinds of records from doctors' offices. I can show them all of that, but it doesn't make any difference. They're taking a real hard line right now.

"It's not going to be good for them (TAC) in the long run because they're going to come under fire at some point in time."

The athlete, of course, is already suspended before he makes an appeal.

Governing bodies in sports are primarily looking for performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids.

There is an "A" list and a "B" list and the relative small amount of the banned substance found in Myricks' medication presumably falls in the "B" list.

"I don't see Alka-Seltzer as a performance-enhancing drug," Myricks said. "It's a drug to make me feel better and abate what symptoms I'm having, but not one that will enable me to jump 29 feet. Taking it made me feel normal, but it certainly didn't give me any edge."

The determination of Myricks' suspension was made in a conference call with TAC officials and an attorney. All he can do now is train on his own while under suspension.

Curiously, Myricks said that his performance at the TAC meet was his worst of the indoor season, a winning jump of only 26 feet 4 1/2 inches.

TAC has a hot line available to athletes to check on banned substances.

"They have a list that is a mile long," Myricks said. "They say you should call the hot line when you get sick. You don't do that, you call doctors. Who would think that you could take Alka-Seltzer or any other cold medicine and get some extraordinary boost out of it?"

The common name of the banned substance in Alka-Seltzer is PPA, according to Myricks. He said the amount was relatively small, and that he has been told that there are other agents in Alka-Seltzer that wash out whatever stimulating effect, however small, is found in PPA.

"If I had 0.01 (percent) or, 101 in my system, it wouldn't have made any difference," Myricks said.

Myricks is trying to react philosophically to his suspension.

However, he said that some people are always going to think the worst.

"You know, some people are going to say he had to be taking something to be competing so well for so long," Myricks said.

Myricks is one of the most durable athletes in track and field. He competed 33 times last year.

He was ranked second in the world by Track and Field News behind Carl Lewis, and the magazine said it was a close call.

Lewis had only six long jump competitions, but he beat Myricks on three occasions. Lewis has an unbeaten streak of 62 meets dating back to Feb. 28, 1981, when Myricks was the last long jumper to beat him.

"I did everything I could to be No. 1," said Myricks of his his 27 victories in 1989 and a world best jump of 28-6 1/2, "but I guess losing to Carl carried more weight than anything else that came along."

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