- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia. I hate to say I told you so, but …

"The torch may have been burning brightly, but darkness is descending rapidly on the culture of the Olympics, so much so that it is even difficult to embrace such moments of glory like Jones and Greene brought us without wondering if you really saw someone just run faster, jump higher or be stronger simply as a result of their hard work, talent and heart which is why we become emotionally involved in such moments or because of the product of a pharmaceutical company."

Thom Loverro

The Washington Times, Sunday, Sept. 24.

I told you so.

The dirty secrets of the Games are being revealed by the hour, the latest yesterday that shot putter C.J. Hunter the husband and advisor of Marion Jones had tested positive for steroids at a meet in Sweden at the end of July.

The story he and USA Track & Field had put forth was that Hunter, the 1999 world champion who would have likely competed for a medal here in Sydney, had withdrawn from the Games because of a knee injury.

They got that story out of the Bulgarian Weightlifting Guide to Drug Cover-ups, third edition.

It turns out that Hunter, according to International Athletic Amateur Association officials, had tested positive for nandrolone at levels 1,000 times higher than normal after the Bislett Games in Oslo. Hunter denied the reports and said he was going to "defend myself vigorously." But the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) confirmed yesterday that Hunter had tested positive at the Swedish track meet, and Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, said Hunter failed three out-of-competition tests.

The IOC and the IAAF expect the USATF to notify them of the outcome of drugs cases. American track officials apparently had known for several weeks about Hunter's test results, which could result in a two-year ban from competition, but tried to keep it quiet until after the Games.

But the self-righteousness Americans showed to the IOC's efforts to conduct drug tests here angered IOC officials. A U.S. government report issued on the eve of the Games criticized the IOC's drug testing, and White House anti-drug czar Barry McCaffrey issued a statement at the same time saying "unless we continue to rid the Games of doping and drugs, children will also take the same drugs they see their stars dealing with."

At the time of the statement, IOC officials indicated the United States should clean up its own house before ripping into the IOC's efforts to stop the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances. It's clear now the IOC and other international sports officials who heard about Hunter's test results were waiting for the right time to strike back.

An IOC member yesterday even invoked McCaffrey's name in charges that the Americans had covered up the Hunter test results. Johan Koss said American athletes were regularly protected from drug sanctions and that up to 15 other U.S. related-drugs cases were being covered up. Koss said McCaffery should "see what is happening and call for an inquiry. It should not be that there is one rule for the world and one rule for U.S. track and field."

Payback, baby.

What better time to strike back than in the American moment of glory, when its biggest star, Marion Jones, had just won the first of the five gold medals she declared she wants to win.

Of course, the IOC said no one should jump to the conclusion that, just because Jones' husband and advisor was using an illegal performance-enhancing substance to compete, she also is. There have been no reports linking Jones to use of banned performance enhancers. "If [Jones] does not test positive, we should not infer [guilt] from one individual to another," said Francois Carrard, IOC director general.

I'll do the inferring around here, babalooey, and don't you forget it.

It's not a leap to believe that Jones has been pharmaceutically enhanced, because it is not a leap of faith to believe that every single one of the winning performances you see have been as well, despite the so-called drug testing effort (probably the losing ones, too, but they just don't have as high quality drugs as the winners).

It's over. The ship has sailed, and the rats are looking for cover. The 2000 Sydney Olympics are going to be known as the drug-infested games:

• IOC officials confirmed yesterday that they are investigating team doctors from a number of national Olympic organizations because of questions that they may also be involved in cover-ups.

• Andreea Raducan, the all-around gymnastics gold medal winner from Romania, tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a substance banned by the IOC. She was stripped of her medal yesterday.

• The entire Romanian weightlifting team was banned from the Games after it was revealed that three weightlifters tested positive before the Olympics for banned substances. However, they were allowed back to compete after paying a $50,000 fine to the International Weightlifting Federation an acceptable practice, according to federation rules.

• The entire Bulgarian weightlifting team had also been kicked out of the Games after three tested positive for steroids. Two of them had won medals, and were stripped of them, and IWF officials insisted they would not be allowed back in the Games because they had tested positive in IOC tests after they competed. But one of them was reinstated yesterday by the Court of Arbitration for Sports and won a silver medal in the 105 kilogram category.

• Cuban high jumper Javier Sotomayor, the world champion and 1992 gold medal winner, had been banned for two years for testing positive for cocaine use a charge he has repeatedly denied after the Pan American Games last year. But the ban was reduced to one year by the IAAF. Sunday, Sotomayor won a silver in the high jump.

So far, the count is five athletes expelled for taking drugs, and that doesn't include the entire Bulgarian team, save for the one who won his appeal. That number is changing quicker than Jerry Lewis' Labor Day telethon board. At least 12 more were sent home before the Games began.

It appears that those numbers are just the tip. The iceberg is here in Sydney, melting fast.

Maybe they should change the Olympic prize from a medal to a gold, silver and bronze syringe.

De Merode said this isn't the first time the Americans have tried to cover up drug results. He said it happened at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, with at least five athletes.

"The U.S. didn't say anything then, there was complete silence, so nothing would astonish me now," Prince de Merode said.

By the way, Marion Jones is back on the track tomorrow, in heats to qualify for the 200 meters and the long jump. You'll need a pair of rose-colored glasses to watch it.

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