SEARCH 2000 Games

Wednesday, June 14, 2000
USOC drug chief resigns, alleges 'hostile, racist' environment

By LARRY SIDDONS -- Associated Press

 The official in charge of making sure the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney is drug free resigned, charging that his bosses were racist and turned a blind eye to doping.

 Dr. Wade Exum, one of the U.S. Olympic Committee's highest-ranking black staff members, said he had become a "racial token" and had to leave as director of the Drug Control Administration less than 31/2 months before the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

 He also said the USOC was "deliberately encouraging the doping of athletes without considering the consequences to their health."

 The USOC denied Exum's allegations and said his job performance had been under scrutiny.

 Exum, 51, said he was forced the leave the job he held for nine years "with much grief and disgust."

 "I wanted to stay on. I wanted to continue to work in that field," Exum said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "But it had become impossible under the conditions imposed upon me. I decided to take the advice of my doctors and resign."

 John Pineau, one of Exum's attorneys, said the former director would file a lawsuit, probably in federal court, alleging racial discrimination and "his belief that the USOC neglected its duties to protect athletes from the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs." No time frame for the lawsuit has been set, Pineau said.

 In an e-mail to colleagues dated June 5, Exum said: "The increasingly hostile, racist, threatening, jeopardy laden, intolerable conditions imposed by this organization (USOC) has made it unbearable for me to remain."

 Exum resigned that day, effective immediately, in a letter to the USOC in which he said he had become a "racial token ... ignored and unfairly belittled."

 The resignation was not announced until Wednesday in a brief USOC statement, which said Exum's allegations were "patently false."

 "We categorically deny that any of the conditions he alleges existed in his job environment," Scott Blackmun, the USOC's senior managing director for sport resources and Exum's boss, said in a telephone interview. "His performance has been under review."

 The USOC statement said further comment would be made "as future circumstances warrant."

 Exum's job at the USOC was being phased out as part of a transition to an independent drug-testing agency, a response to critics who said the committee had too much at stake to police its own athletes.

 The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will be headed by chairman Frank Shorter, a former Olympic marathoner, and CEO Terry Madden. The USOC said there were no plans to appoint a successor to Exum.

 But that change to the new agency won't take effect until after the Sydney Games, and Exum's old office will be in charge of doping controls for athletes at Olympic trials and all other members of the U.S. team until the games begin Sept. 15, including random, unannounced testing.

 Exum joined the USOC as drug chief in June 1991, and kept a fairly high profile in the campaign against illegal performance enhancers.

 But his style and stance often clashed with others in the Olympics and anti-drug fields, and Blackmun said the transition to the new agency provoked a final flash point.

 According to Blackmun, Exum refused his request for a list of names and addresses of members of the crews that collect urine samples from athletes and deliver them to test centers, despite legal advise that countered Exum's claim that such information was confidential.

 Blackmun said his office wanted to notify the crew members of the coming change in case they wanted to apply for similar positions with the new agency.

 That dispute lasted for almost three weeks, capped by Exum's resignation, Blackmun said.

 Exum refused to comment on the matter but acknowledged that a dispute over crew identification was the last straw.

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