With two Germanys becoming one, speculation was that a sports superpower would be created that would bury the Soviet Union and the United States. Instead, the Germans have been shoveling dirt on themselves with revelations about steroid use on both sides of the wall, particularly the east side.
Comment: When East German women swimmers were suspected of drug use at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal because of their deep voices, their coach said, “We came to swim, not sing.” Fourteen years later, some East Germans with pipelines to newspaper reporters are proving that they can sing, too.
TOKYO--Atlanta accomplished something that it couldn’t do in the Civil War; it seceded from the Union.
When rival cities protested that Atlanta shouldn’t play host to the 1996 Summer Olympics because the United States had the Games only 12 years before in Los Angeles, the Georgians countered that they actually are Southerners instead of Americans. Southerners, they said, never have had the Games.
The International Olympic Committee bought it. In a vote in Tokyo, Atlanta finished ahead of sentimental favorite Athens. Athens supporters charged that IOC members were bought by Coca-Cola, which is headquartered in Atlanta.
Comment: In Greek cafes all over the world, they are saying, “No Coke. Pepsi.”
ROME--Forget the record books that say West Germany won the World Cup with a victory in the final over Argentina. The real winners in an otherwise forgettable soccer tournament were the Indomitable Lions from Cameroon.
In reaching the quarterfinals, they proved that teams don’t necessarily have to play conservative, dull, unimaginative soccer to win. Hoping to see other teams kick caution to the wind, the sport’s bosses gave Africa a third automatic berth in the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Comment: Has anyone besides Cameroon scored yet?
PARIS--Since Horst Dassler of Germany died a couple of years ago, there has been a void in international sports. The IOC and FIFA, which governs soccer, have had to run themselves. Enter Bernard Tapie, the Frenchman who bought Adidas last summer. He wasn’t buying just a sports apparel company; he was trying to buy Dassler’s influence.
It isn’t likely to happen because Tapie is perceived to have neither the integrity nor character of Dassler. Considering the controversy that constantly surrounds Tapie’s French soccer team, Olympique Marseille, a more appropriate comparison would be to George Steinbrenner.
Tapie has been both the accused and the accuser in bribery allegations. Now, his team is under investigation for its alleged financial irregularities. The coach, Franz Beckenbauer, recently moved to the front office because of confusion about who runs the team and may be out entirely before spring.
Comment: The French are different from you and me.
JOHANNESBURG--The IOC was the first multinational organization to suspend South Africa because of its official policy of racial separation. Now, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch says the IOC will be the first to welcome back South Africa when it eliminates apartheid.
There have been several meetings this year between South African sports officials and IOC delegates. An IOC delegation will make its first visit to Johannesburg in April. Samaranch predicts that the South Africans will compete in 1996 in Atlanta.
Comment: Samaranch should be drug tested. He’s sprinting faster than Ben Johnson.
BARCELONA--An Italian team took the New York Knicks into overtime in the McDonald’s Cup in Barcelona. So it was the Knicks’ first exhibition game. It won’t be long before some Italian, Spanish and Yugoslav teams are at least as good as the Miami Heat.
NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA champions will play the champions of various European leagues in a preseason tournament that will start in 1993.
Comment: You read it here first. By the end of the decade, basketball’s visionaries, such as Stern, will arrange a postseason series between the best teams in the NBA and Europe to achieve a true world championship and an international marketing bonanza.
PARIS--The athlete of the last decade, Greg LeMond, is off to a good start in becoming the athlete of this decade. He won the Tour de France for the third time, including two in a row. The French will attempt to make it tougher for him next year, eliminating some of the more difficult mountain stages. He usually handles those as if he’s riding a Harley-Davidson.
Comment: It’s a good thing for LeMond that those drug tests that tell you what an athlete ate for breakfast six months ago can’t also determine nationality. Could this guy really be an American?
INDIANAPOLIS--Although the drug-testing program supervised by The Athletics Congress, which governs track and field in the United States, remains in turmoil, two American world record-holders, shotputter Randy Barnes and quarter-miler Butch Reynolds, tested positive for steroids in Europe.
Less than 8,000 people over three days attended the national championships last summer. The country’s most prestigious indoor meet, the Millrose Games in New York, doesn’t have a sponsor. Other meets, indoors and outdoors, are dead or dying.
Comment: Who’s responsible for this sport in the United States, and why does he still have a job?
LOS ANGELES--An L.A. lawyer, Alan Rothenberg, took over as president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Another L.A. lawyer, Charles Cale, became chief executive officer of the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. Directly under him is Scott LeTellier, a Newport Beach lawyer.
Comment: By the time World Cup arrives, the only L.A. lawyer who’s going to still be practicing law is Leland McKenzie.
SEATTLE--Not even Jane Fonda could get the Goodwill Games in shape. Goodwill Games II lost even more money than Goodwill Games I. Nevertheless, Ted Turner convinced the members of his board of directors that there should be a Goodwill Games III in 1994 in Moscow and Leningrad.
Comment: Ted Turner is different from you and me.