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Wednesday, September 20, 2000
Olympics brace for drug test results

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The legacy of Ben Johnson lives on, sadly, at the 2000 Olympics.

 Cynicism and suspicion shadow towering performances. Sculpted physiques prompt whispers. Some drug cheaters are caught, others go free, and no one's quite sure who's clean, who's not. It's a dirty topic that everyone wishes would just go away. But everyone knows it won't.

 The first big wave of drug test results are due soon, and Sydney is bracing for scandal.

 Blame Ben Johnson for that. When he pumped himself up with anabolic steroids 12 years ago at Seoul and stole the 100-meter gold from Carl Lewis before getting caught, Johnson changed the nature and rules of the games. He wasn't the first cheater, and he surely wasn't the last, but he was the most famous in the most prominent of events -- the race for the title of world's fastest man.

 The Olympics haven't been the same since. Drug-testing has gotten more rigorous, athletes are tested more often, but the tricks of the trade still allow some cheaters to escape detection. The question these days is, how many?

 At sun-dappled Darling Harbor on Tuesday, smiling athletes and fans, snap-happy with their cameras, strolled between events, enjoying the pleasures of the afternoon, the flags rippling on the bridge, the pin-trading and music. There was a lightness in the air, an innocence to the scene, the way it feels when families have fun at the local county fair.

 Yet inside the Convention Center, weightlifting officials anguished over yet another jolt to their long-tormented sport -- two Romanians testing positive for anabolic steroids. The whole Romanian team was thrown out, then the guiltless athletes were given a reprieve.

 There were IOC accusations of impropriety by the International Weightlifting Federation, that it had been too tough and had broken its own rules, and there were retorts from federation officials that they were doing what had to be done.

 It was a sordid mess, with nobody winning, but one had to feel sympathy for the dilemma the federation found itself in -- a dilemma exacerbated when Wednesday rolled around and a weightlifter became one of the first athletes kicked out of these games, banned as a result of drug tests.

 The IOC took away the silver medal won by the Bulgarian lifter, Ivan Ivanov. Over at track and field, Vadim Devyatovsky, a hammer thrower from Belarus, also was banned.

 Tamas Ajan, the weightlifting federation's general secretary, spoke of his fear that his sport could one day be dumped from the Olympics if the cheating doesn't stop. Drastic measures are necessary, he said, and if those include testing every athlete, fining countries with cheaters $50,000 so they can't hush it up and throwing out entire teams when drug use is pervasive, so be it.

 "If a national federation is not ready to stop the drugs, we have to do something," Ajan said. "We never wish to punish an innocent competitor. But at the same time, why punish the Olympic movement and the Olympic spirit? I would be very happy if all the sports would follow us."

 A cynic could easily respond that no sport has been more doped up than weightlifting over the years, and that the show of force the weightlifting federation is putting on now is simply a desperate attempt to stave off the ultimate Olympic sanction -- banishment.

 Other sports are just as worried, even if their futures are in less jeopardy.

 The trend is toward more testing and tougher tests. Most athletes favor that, in part because it can help take the suspicion of cheating off those who are drug-free, and in part because they fear that if they sink deeper into a doping milieu they will all suffer the loss of lucrative endorsements.Olympics brace for drug test results



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 By STEVE WILSTEIN



 AP Sports Writer



 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The legacy of Ben Johnson lives on, sadly, at the 2000 Olympics.

 Cynicism and suspicion shadow towering performances. Sculpted physiques prompt whispers. Some drug cheaters are caught, others go free, and no one's quite sure who's clean, who's not. It's a dirty topic that everyone wishes would just go away. But everyone knows it won't.

 The first big wave of drug test results are due soon, and Sydney is bracing for scandal.

 Blame Ben Johnson for that. When he pumped himself up with anabolic steroids 12 years ago at Seoul and stole the 100-meter gold from Carl Lewis before getting caught, Johnson changed the nature and rules of the games. He wasn't the first cheater, and he surely wasn't the last, but he was the most famous in the most prominent of events -- the race for the title of world's fastest man.

 The Olympics haven't been the same since. Drug-testing has gotten more rigorous, athletes are tested more often, but the tricks of the trade still allow some cheaters to escape detection. The question these days is, how many?

 At sun-dappled Darling Harbor on Tuesday, smiling athletes and fans, snap-happy with their cameras, strolled between events, enjoying the pleasures of the afternoon, the flags rippling on the bridge, the pin-trading and music. There was a lightness in the air, an innocence to the scene, the way it feels when families have fun at the local county fair.

 Yet inside the Convention Center, weightlifting officials anguished over yet another jolt to their long-tormented sport -- two Romanians testing positive for anabolic steroids. The whole Romanian team was thrown out, then the guiltless athletes were given a reprieve.

 There were IOC accusations of impropriety by the International Weightlifting Federation, that it had been too tough and had broken its own rules, and there were retorts from federation officials that they were doing what had to be done.

 It was a sordid mess, with nobody winning, but one had to feel sympathy for the dilemma the federation found itself in -- a dilemma exacerbated when Wednesday rolled around and a weightlifter became one of the first athletes kicked out of these games, banned as a result of drug tests.

 The IOC took away the silver medal won by the Bulgarian lifter, Ivan Ivanov. Over at track and field, Vadim Devyatovsky, a hammer thrower from Belarus, also was banned.

 Tamas Ajan, the weightlifting federation's general secretary, spoke of his fear that his sport could one day be dumped from the Olympics if the cheating doesn't stop. Drastic measures are necessary, he said, and if those include testing every athlete, fining countries with cheaters $50,000 so they can't hush it up and throwing out entire teams when drug use is pervasive, so be it.

 "If a national federation is not ready to stop the drugs, we have to do something," Ajan said. "We never wish to punish an innocent competitor. But at the same time, why punish the Olympic movement and the Olympic spirit? I would be very happy if all the sports would follow us."

 A cynic could easily respond that no sport has been more doped up than weightlifting over the years, and that the show of force the weightlifting federation is putting on now is simply a desperate attempt to stave off the ultimate Olympic sanction -- banishment.

 Other sports are just as worried, even if their futures are in less jeopardy.

 The trend is toward more testing and tougher tests. Most athletes favor that, in part because it can help take the suspicion of cheating off those who are drug-free, and in part because they fear that if they sink deeper into a doping milieu they will all suffer the loss of lucrative endorsements.

 Sport by Sport
PARALYMPICS
Purdy's golden moment
WRESTLING
IOC strips gold medal
TENNIS
Nestor's golden win hits home
BOXING
Harrison starts in Britain
WEIGHTLIFTING
Bulgarian coach resigns
TRACK & FIELD
Student suspended for e-mail threats
CANOE/KAYAK
Bridesmaid Brunet
PENTATHLON
Brit wins women's modern pentathlon
TRIATHLON
Simon's our man
BASKETBALL
Dream Team hangs on for another gold
WATER POLO
Hungary destroys Russia in title game
GYMNASTICS
Barsukova wins rhythmic gold in an upset
EQUESTRIAN
Wind dashes Millar's medal hopes
VOLLEYBALL
Yugoslavia beats Russia for gold
DIVING
Despatie arrives early
FIELD HOCKEY
Netherlands retains Olympic title
TAEKWONDO
Bosshart wins bronze in taekwondo
SYNCHRO
Ironic performance wins bronze
SAILING
Clarke retires after finishing 17th