Reynolds Lets Feet Do Most of the Talking : Track and field: Still feuding with the IAAF, he takes gold in 400 meters at the World Indoor Championships.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Butch Reynolds, after more than two years of defying international track powers, made his strongest statement Sunday in the place where he had been the most quiet--on the track.

Reynolds won the 400 meters in 45.26 seconds at the World Indoor Championships on the final day of three days of competition in the SkyDome.

Sunday's race marked the first time Reynolds has represented the United States in five years.

Reynolds' running was silenced for 29 months by the International Amateur Athletics Federation, track and field's international governing body, after he failed a drug test. He has fought his suspension through all levels of courts to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reynolds' fight to clear his name has, according to the IAAF and many international sports federations, set a dangerous precedent.

The buildup to Sunday's race had been fraught with tension and controversy. Had he regained his world-beating condition? Would IAAF President Primo Nebiolo award Reynolds the gold medal, as was scheduled? Or would Nebiolo, an Italian whom Reynolds last week referred to as a "God-father," snub the new world champion?

Nebiolo did not award Reynolds his gold medal, because officials feared a potentially embarrassing scene. Appearances were everything here, and both sides were on their best behavior, publicly at least. The stage-managed atmosphere served to give Reynolds' first world championship title an anticlimactic feel.

Reynolds did not move Sunday without an escort by one of his attorneys, David Young, who even accompanied his client into the drug testing room, where Reynolds was submitted to his second test in six days.

Young's presence was part of Team Reynolds' strategy regarding drug testing. As the rules require, Reynolds provided urine that will be split into an A and B samples. But for his own protection he now also produces a C sample, which his attorneys send to a Canadian lab to be tested independently.

Reynolds, 29, says he has been tested more than 10 times since returning last month from a two-year suspension after testing positive for anabolic steroids in August of 1990. He has maintained his innocence and in December received a $27.3-million judgment against the IAAF from a U.S. district judge.

The IAAF has filed papers contesting the court's jurisdiction and has hired two law firms to represent them in the United States.

Certainly, the acrimony and notoriety has been damaging both to Reynolds and track and field. Through the course of his fight, Reynolds has said many harsh things about the IAAF. In retaliation, the federation extended Reynolds' suspension by five months.

The escalation and threats continued here, although behind the scenes. An IAAF official on Sunday said unless Reynolds retracted his statements he would be banned for life.

Reynolds' lawyers responded by saying they had filed court papers to attach IAAF monies in the United States.

Reynolds drew Lane 5 on the broad 200-meter track. He was third after the first lap but then moved to second behind Sunday Bada of Nigeria.

Reynolds held back until he came off the last turn. Moving into the straightaway, the 6-foot-3 Reynolds ran past the diminutive Nigerian.

Reynolds was surrounded by media, but before he got to his first television interview, an IAAF official pulled Reynolds aside and said, "Don't say anything."

Reynolds didn't appear to be in the mood to take the advice.

"My innocence speaks for itself," Reynolds said from deep inside a scrum of international press. "I'm too legit to quit."

Dan O'Brien, the decathlon world record holder, set a world record in the seldom-contested heptathlon. His point total in the two-day, seven-event heptathlon was 6,476, breaking the record of 6,418 held by Christian Plaziat of France.

Other highlights:

--Inessa Kravets of the Ukraine beat the world record holder in the triple jump and beat her record, too. Kravets jumped 47 feet 5 3/4 on her fifth attempt to beat Yolanda Chen of Russia, who won the silver medal. Chen's record was 47-5 1/4.

--Mark McKoy of Canada won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.41 seconds but the Olympic gold medalist admitted his false start was overlooked.

--The women's hurdle race was rerun, after Michelle Freeman of Jamaica hit the last hurdle and crashed into Julie Baumann of Switzerland. Baumann, formerly a Canadian citizen, won the rerunning of the race in 7.96.

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