- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

From combined dispatches
Steroid levels 1,000 times the limit were found in a Latvian bobsledder allowed to compete at the Olympics despite a failed drug test and a series of moves to ban him.
Dr. Christiane Ayot, whose IOC-accredited lab in Montreal ran the test, said the international bobsled federation apparently ignored the results when it imposed a retroactive three-month ban on Sandis Prusis. The ban ended just before Olympic competition.
"I believe they had already made up their mind" and accepted Prusis' argument that the drug was contained in legal food supplements, said Ayot, who is helping the International Olympic Committee's medical commission during the Winter Games.
She also said the chance that Prusis absorbed such a high amount of the drug in contaminated supplements was very small.
"We cannot eliminate the possibility that this level was contained in a supplement, but it would have to be one that was grossly mislabeled, which I doubt," Ayot said, adding that a lack of experience on the part of the federation in handling such cases may have led to the decision.
"I guess the federation concluded that the athlete's argument was correct from the beginning," she said. "I don't think I'm naive. I think they were not properly instructed. This is a technical, complicated issue."
She said it was important that athletes had faith in anti-doping systems being beefed up by organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Robert Storey, president of the bobsled federation FIBT, said Ayot's claim that his group ignored the test results was "absolutely untrue."
"We looked at this matter very, very carefully and came to the conclusion based on scientific chemical analysis," Storey said.
While he would not comment on the exact levels of the steroid in Prusis' sample, he said independent experts told the FIBT that it was possible the drug in the amounts found came from in tainted food supplements.
Prusis, the pilot of Latvia's two- and four-man sleds, tested positive for the nandralone after a Nov. 9 training run at the Olympic track in Park City, Utah. The international bobsled federation then banned him on Jan. 7 from World Cup competition and the Olympics.
But Prusis and Latvian Olympic officials appealed, blaming the positive test on dietary supplements. The federation agreed, and imposed a three-month retroactive suspension on Prusis that ended Feb. 9, making him eligible for the Winter Games.
Wipeout
Not every great Olympic moment ends with a gold medal. Moguls skier Teppei Noda of Japan offered the latest proof of that yesterday during a harrowing and courageous trip down the mountain.
Noda, a five-year veteran of the Japanese ski team, caught a nasty bump in the leadup to his first jump in qualifying.
He started falling backward as he approached the first jump. He skidded over the icy takeoff ramp, the side of his neck hitting at an awkward angle as he cleared it.
It was quite a wipeout.
Noda's ski came off in the tangle, but he wasn't ready to give up on the run.
"I did it for honor, and because this is the Olympics," Noda said.
Sidestepping slowly up the hill a draining journey almost every skier has made dozens of times Noda retrieved the ski and slapped his boot back into the binding.
But this was no walk of shame. The fans were cheering wildly. After all, this is the Olympics, and as much as winning, the thrill of competing, finishing and overcoming obstacles is what it's supposed to be all about.
"I wanted to complete this," Noda said.
After resituating himself, Noda had another false start, veering toward the side of the mountain, outside the course.
He stopped. More cheers.
Then, back onto the course he went, and he completed the second jump, a modest air that drew one of the loudest ovations of the day.
His wasn't the only odd trip down the mountain.
American Evan Dybvig took a nasty spill and was helped off the mountain with an injured right knee. Officials from the United States Olympic Committee said he strained his already torn-up knee, and would have an MRI later yesterday to determine the extent of the damage.
Sam Temple of Great Britain got hung up on a mogul in between the two jumps, so he stopped, sidestepped up a few feet, then got some speed and completed his second jump.
Billboard battles
When Utah's largest billboard company turned down his ad for Polygamy Porter beer "Why Have Just One?" Wasatch Brewery owner Greg Schirf didn't give up.
Schirf, owner of Wasatch Brewery, took his business to another billboard company who ran the ad lampooning the state's history of polygamy. It shows two women hanging on a muscled man.
Reagan Outdoor Advertising President Dewey Reagan says the ad was in poor taste. Reagan also axed Brighton ski resort's ad promoting its high-speed, four-seat chair lifts: "Wife. Wife. Wife. Husband. The new quad."
Paltry protests
So far, Olympic protests haven't been gold medal stuff. That didn't change yesterday when reporters outnumbered those they were covering one demonstration.
Holding signs, waiving black flags and beating drums, a dozen protesters yesterday called for people to demonstrate against the Olympics' military presence.
Three times as many journalists turned out at the downtown intersection to cover the event. The protesters didn't impress people walking by.
"I think security is great. It's to our benefit," said Shirlene Luke of West Valley City.
Snarl-free
Interstate 80 was supposed to be clogged with traffic yesterday as spectators made their way to four Olympic events in the mountains outside Salt Lake City.
It wasn't, much to the surprise of Olympic organizers.
Fears of gridlock disappeared as traffic overcame some early congestion to move smoothly much of the morning, which was expected to be the heaviest traffic day of the Winter Games.
Organizers want fans to ride-share, saying they need an average of 2.6 people per car to keep traffic moving.
Pricey Games
That pint of beer quaffed while watching the Winter Games crowds stroll by your tavern's window is double what you used to pay. The bill for dinner has ballooned, too.
Is it typical Olympic price gouging? Salt Lake City businesses acknowledge raising prices, but insist they did so only to pass on higher costs brought by the Winter Games.
Deno Dakis, bar manager at the Port O' Call, admits his popular downtown watering hole did initially boost the price for a pint of microbrewed dark beer to $6.25 nearly twice what it cost before the Games came to town.
"We've lowered it to $5 a pint," he said. "Hey, it's our first Olympics and we make mistakes. We had complaints about the price, so we lowered it."
But what critics don't realize, Dakis argued, are the extra costs downtown businesses have deliveries as early as 2 a.m. and more employees.


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