Hurdler Danny Harris’ comeback from drug addiction, one of track and field’s most uplifting stories, probably ended Thursday when he announced his withdrawal from the U.S. Olympic trials because of a positive test for cocaine.
Harris, the 1984 silver medalist in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles who three years later broke Edwin Moses’ 107-race winning streak, was suspended for four years after testing positive for cocaine in 1992.
But he was allowed to return two years later, after persuading U.S. and international track and field officials that he was a recovering addict. After losing his house in Los Angeles and an endorsement contract, the native of Perris, Calif., twice underwent drug rehabilitation.
Ranked No. 4 in the world in 1995, Harris was expected to make the U.S. Olympic team after recording the world’s best time this year, 48.08 seconds, on May 4 in Rio de Janeiro. He tested positive at that meet.
Harris said in a statement that he experienced a relapse in April.
“In accordance with IAAF procedure, I have until June 21 to make a written response to the IAAF and USA Track & Field,” he said. “I have decided to forgo the Olympic trials to focus on communication with USA Track & Field.”
Harris, 30, could be banned for life.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Harris said that he regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings since returning two years ago to his college town, Ames, Iowa. But he hinted of his ongoing problems.
“I haven’t been perfect,” he said. " . . . Some days are tough. You wish you could chuck it all aside, forget your responsibilities and do what comes natural to an addict. That’s use. Those days, you have to depend on your program and the work you’ve done. You remember what it’s like to have burned all your bridges.”