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Swimmer’s Request for Disciplinary Action Against Rival Turned Down

July 1, 1996

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A swimmer’s request for disciplinary action that could have placed him on the U.S. Olympic team in place of a rival was rejected Monday by the U.S. Olympic Committee in the first test of its new code of conduct.

Ron Karnaugh of Maplewood, N.J., had asked that the USOC take action against Greg Burgess for alcohol-related offenses in Jacksonville, Fla., last March.

But after eight hours of interviews with Jacksonville police officers and the receipt of unsolicited letters from Florida prosecutors describing Burgess’ offenses as minor and adequately handled by the law, USOC executive director Dick Schultz told Karnaugh that no further action was warranted by the committee.

``We are satisfied as to the facts,″ Mike Moran, a USOC spokesman, said.

Karnaugh was not immediately available for comment. Moran said the USOC was told that Karnaugh had filed an appeal with the American Arbitration Association, as required under the code.

The deadline for submitting Olympic rosters is Friday and the USOC will request a quick hearing, Moran said.

Burgess won the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic Trials last March, with Karnaugh finishing fourth. Only the top two swimmers in each distance qualify for the Olympics.

Later that month, Burgess was arrested on a Jacksonville beach and charged with public drinking and supplying beer to a pair of underage members of the Colombian swimming team. Burgess pleaded no contest and was fined $150.

Because he agreed to stay in competitive shape, Karnaugh became the first alternate to replace a 200 IM swimmer on the Olympic team if something happened to bar that athlete from competing.

Karnaugh, a member of the the 1992 Olympic swim team, decided to act under terms of the new conduct code, which specifically forbids the illegal use of alcohol. The USOC would not say what measures Karnaugh requested, citing confidentiality of the documents, but published reports in Florida said he had asked that Burgess be dismissed from the team.

Had Schultz found that further disciplinary action against Burgess was warranted, dismissal from the team was only one of a number of possible sanctions, ranging from requiring a formal apology to banning him from marching in the opening ceremonies of the games July 19.

Moran said USOC lawyer Ronald T. Rowan had spent some eight hours interviewing the arresting officer and his supervisor in Jacksonville. He also interviewed prosecutors and received unsolicited letters from State Attorney Harry L. Shorestein and Assistant State Attorney Ernst Bell in Jacksonville that characterized the charges as ``very minor offenses,″ Moran said.

``The state attorney said there was nothing remaining to interfere with Greg Burgess’ ability to compete on the U.S. team,″ Moran said.

The new code of conduct was adopted in April after a two-year review sparked by the case of figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

Harding exposed a loophole in the committee’s old code when she was allowed to skate at the 1994 Winter Games despite growing evidence of her involvement in the attack on Kerrigan at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that year. Kerrigan also skated in the Olympics and won the silver medal, while Harding finished eighth.

In 1992, Karnaugh finished sixth in the 200 IM days after his father collapsed and died of a heart attack while watching the opening ceremonies of the games in Barcelona. Burgess won the silver in that race.

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