Olympic officials are huddling this weekend, trying to determine the status of shotputter Jim Doehring, whose felony conviction six months ago has put his eligibility in question.
A newspaper reported Friday that Doehring, who lives in Fallbrook and qualified for the Olympic team last weekend, pleaded guilty last Dec. 16 to conspiring to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, a federal criminal charge.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Doehring supplied one pound of the illegal drug to a married couple, who in turn sold the stimulant to an informant of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Doehring was put on five years' probation by a U.S. District judge. He also was sentenced to spend five months at a halfway house and ordered to perform 125 hours of community service and to take part in a drug-treatment program.
Officials of the U.S. Olympic Committee and The Athletics Congress, which governs track and field in this country, said Friday it was unclear whether Doehring's conviction would jeopardize his place on the U.S. Olympic team.
"This comes as a surprise to us, as everyone else," said Pete Cava, a TAC spokesman. "It's a matter of concern, and it's a matter that will be under discussion. However, as far as I know, there are no rules within The Athletics Congress that would prevent him from competing."
Doehring, a former national champion, qualified for the Olympic team on his last throw at the U.S. Olympic trials in New Orleans last Saturday. His throw of 69 feet 2 inches moved him from fourth place to second. Doehring, 30, was on the 1988 Olympic team and placed 11th at Seoul.
TAC has until next Friday to submit its list of names for the Olympic team to the Olympic Committee. If TAC includes Doehring's name, it will be up to the USOC to accept or reject Doehring's eligibility.
Like TAC, the USOC has no provision to bar an athlete from competing because of a criminal record.
"We don't have anything in our constitution that says we can kick him off the team," said Mike Moran, a USOC spokesman. "This certainly is being discussed."
Moran said that once an athlete is named to the Olympic team, he or she must adhere to a code of conduct or risk expulsion. But since Doehring's conviction occurred before he qualified for the Olympic team, the rules don't apply in his case, Moran said.
The USOC faced a similar problem in 1988 when diver Bruce Kimball came within two dives of making the U.S. Olympic team. Kimball competed at the trials in Indianapolis while out on bail on two counts of vehicular manslaughter. Kimball served time in a Florida prison and was transferred to a halfway house in 1991.
One of the rights Doehring loses as a convicted felon is the right to carry a passport. According to the USOC, however, Olympic athletes are not required to carry passports to travel to the Games, only an Olympic identity card.
It is unknown whether Doehring is allowed to travel under the terms of his probation.
Doehring, the father of two, had been battling TAC over a positive test for an abnormal level of testosterone in December of 1990. He won his appeal early this summer and was reinstated just weeks before the Olympic trials.