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Olympics accused of
drug cover-up

Apr 22, 2003 12:53 AM

With the wild flag-waving on television these days, I suppose it should not be surprising that the American press has virtually ignored what has become a major sports scandal in England.

I’m talking about the accusation by Dr. Wade Exum, director of drug control for the United States Olympic committee from 1991 to 2000, that an American sports icon, Carl Lewis ”” called by some the greatest athlete of the 20th century ”” was suspended for a positive drug test in 1988 but allowed to run and win in the Olympics that year by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Exum says the committee overturned a 12-week suspension so that Lewis could run. Furthermore, he claims that Lewis was just one of more than 100 competitors, including 19 Olympic medalists, involved in a cover-up of drug use from 1988 to 2000.

Exum’s testimony might be suspect as tainted, for it was part of a discrimination and wrongful termination suit he filed against the US Olympic Committee. The suit was dismissed for lack of evidence, but Exum’s charges were supported by a former Lewis teammate, Roger Kingdom, who won the 110-meter hurdles in Seoul and later served on the United States track and field drug-hearing board. He now says Lewis "should not have been allowed to compete, plain and simple."

Lewis’ lawyer does not deny that Lewis ran with a prohibited substance in his body, but says it was contained in an herbal cold remedy, and that "Carl did nothing wrong. There was never intent."

Kingdom, however, has a different slant. "At the time, Carl was Mr. Track and Field, and what a black eye it would have given the US not to have your top dog there."

All of this is from a story in England’s Manchester Guardian which headlined the 1988 Olympic 100-meter final in Âí­Korea as "the dirtiest race in history." It goes on to say that Lewis was not the only 1988 American gold medalist who escaped punishment. It asserts that Joe DeLoach and Andre Phillips also failed tests in US Olympic trials but still traveled to Seoul and won gold medals in the 200- and 400-meter hurdles, respectively.

In a second story on Lewis, headlined "Lewis thrown off his pedestal as American credibility hits new low," a subhead read, "Nine-time gold medalist joins sprinting’s hall of shame."

The Guardian’s blasts were joined by the London Telegraph, which headlined "US lets Lewis compete after failing drug tests," and started its story, "Carl Lewis heads the list of 19 American medalists who tested positive for drugs but were still allowed to compete in the Olympic games in 1988."

All of this has to be viewed in the context of English journalism, which at times makes US supermarket checkout counter scandal sheets look like high school essays.

Despite that, all of this comes from our staunch ally in our frantic folly in Iraq. If that’s what they think of us, imagine what fun those who despise us ”” which seems to be just about everyone else on the planet ”” will have with the story.

It has become fashionable these days to turn so-called news shows into biased commentary. It is not just disgraceful. It is dangerous. The last thing this country needs is blow-dried bigots on television with questionable intellectual credentials telling the rest of us how to think and act.

We have succeeded in disposing of Saddam Hussein in our war games in Iraq. Hooray for us. If the victory comes at the cost of publicly castigating and disparaging Americans who happen to think the war was a sad mistake, it will turn out to be one of the costliest victories in our history.

It’s bad enough having an Australian tycoon like Rupert Murdoch imposing his narrow views wholesale on Americans through his far-flung media empire, including Fox News. It’s far worse, however, when the brainwashing comes from the nation’s capital.