U.S. To Aid Olympic Doping Fight
U.S. To Aid Olympic Doping Fight
Nov. 25, 1998
NEW YORK (AP) _ The White House pledged $1 million in unprecedented federal help Tuesday to fight drugs in sports and urged the International Olympic Committee to award medals to athletes who were beaten by cheaters.
In a 10-page memo to the IOC, White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey called for establishment of an independent doping agency and universal adoption of uniform drug policies, including year-round tests to ``ensure all Olympians are drug free.''
``Our position is that the Olympics must adopt a comprehensive anti-drug program that applies 365 days of every year, to all Olympic athletes,'' McCaffrey wrote to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.
He said measures must apply to both performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and recreational drugs such as marijuana.
``We raise Olympic athletes up on international pedestals for all the world's children to look up to as role models _ it is vital that the message they send is drug free,'' McCaffrey said. ``The goal of this whole effort must be to prevent Olympic medals and the Olympic movement from being tarnished by drugs.''
The proposal was submitted as part of planning for a worldwide drug summit called by the IOC for Feb. 2-4. McCaffrey will head the U.S. government delegation to that meeting.
While it spends millions of dollars to fight drug abuse each year, the White House never before has committed anywhere near $1 million to battle doping in sports.
The U.S. Olympic Committee, which budgets more than $11 million in it own anti-drug efforts, praised McCaffrey's stand.
``We're enthusiastic about the participation and the financial commitment of the U.S. government in the international fight against drugs in sports,'' USOC president Bill Hybl said. ``Having the strong commitment of the executive branch is a forceful enhancement of the USOC's efforts to detect and eradicate doping.''
In his memo to Samaranch, McCaffrey asked the IOC to consider ``supplemental medals'' for athletes who lost to documented acts of drug cheating.
Hybl last month asked Samaranch to award duplicate gold medals to the U.S. women's 400-meter medley swim relay team from the 1976 Summer Games, which finished second to East Germany. Recent German court cases have revealed that one member of the gold-medal relay squad had been helped by anabolic steroids administered secretly by her coach.
McCaffrey wants to expand the USOC request.
``The IOC needs to reward medals to those drug-free athletes _ not just Americans but all international athletes _ who were deprived of their medals,'' he said.
Although the proposal specifically mentions only German athletes, a spokesman for McCaffrey said that could be broadened to any drug cases.
``We wanted the door opened,'' spokesman Bob Weiner said.
The $1 million research program would be administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, working on its own initiatives and on requests from Olympic authorities.
``We will work in consultation with the IOC and the USOC,'' Weiner said.
McCaffrey called the White House proposals ``comprehensive and balanced.'' He said groundbreaking efforts were needed because drug detectors were losing the current ``cat and mouse game'' to drug cheats, even if estimates of doping might be inflated.
``The prevailing belief that a large number of elite athletes are doping causes athletes to believe that they cannot win without cheating,'' he said. ``The common belief of widespread doping also detracts from how the public perceives the games and medal performances. A cynicism now envelopes every great victory.''
McCaffrey called for education and prevention programs that will make doping as ``reviled as any other form of cheating.''