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Tennessee Tech Coach One of About 400 Doping Escorts at Games

July 7, 1996

Don’t expect to see Lorenzo Rivers when you watch the Olympics.

But if you do, and he’s standing next to a wrestler or weightlifter who just won a medal, there’s no problem. He’s just doing his job.

Rivers, the strength and conditioning coach for Tennessee Tech’s football team, will be a doping escort at the Atlanta Games. He’s one of about 400 people being used to monitor Olympic athletes for drug testing.

Athletes can be tested at random throughout the games, and officials also test all medal winners, who have 60 minutes to report to a doping control station.

That’s where Rivers comes in.

``I go everywhere they go within that hour after their event when they know they’ve won,″ he said. ``I’m with them all the time.″

Rivers and other doping escorts will accompany an athlete to don a sweatsuit, appear at news conferences and talk with individual reporters and then all the way to the doping control station. The escorts carefully watch and write down everything that happens.

``It’s probably one of the most important (jobs) because it could cost a guy a medal, especially if he drinks something out of the ordinary rather than what we have to give him,″ Rivers said.

Bins of Powerade and bottled water will be among the drinks available to athletes. Presley Harris, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, said the escorts are there to protect the athletes.

``They are literally just to stay by their side,″ she said.

Of the 42,500 volunteers needed to staff the Atlanta Games, about 4,000 are medical personnel.

Rivers became a doping escort through his work at a whitewater competition last fall on the Ocoee River, site of the Olympic whitewater events later this month. His boss, professor Bill Whitehill of Middle Tennessee State University, gave him a call when he needed volunteers.

Rivers has been assigned to the Georgia World Congress Center, site of wrestling, weightlifting, judo, fencing and table tennis events. The air-conditioned building will be a nice change from last month when he worked outside as an escort at the Olympic track and field trials.

Mike Connolly, who placed second in the triple jump, kept Rivers busy. He notified Connolly he was his escort, followed him into a news conference and then walked with him toward the drug station.

``Then a guy out on the track wanted to talk to him, Mike ran out to him, and I’m dropping everything to be behind him because I have to watch everything he does in case he drinks something,″ Rivers said.

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