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Outside the Lines: Show 27 transcript: Olympic Drug Testing

BROADCAST OF SUNDAY, October 1, 2000
Anchor- Bob Ley

Guests - Live from Sydney Larry Rawson, track and field analyst;
Christine Brennan,columnist USA Today
Coordinating producer- Jonathan Ebinger

Bob Ley, host - The Sydney games are over now. You will see the closing ceremony in 10 hours or so. But there is one live reality cutting through the fog of more than a dozen time zones.

It is open season on the United States' anti-doping policy. The international Olympic Committee is visibly upset at the United States.

And while that anger may begin with the prosecution of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, it is also grounded in the criticism of IOC drug vigilance by White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey, and the perception overseas that Americans do not vigorously test pro athletes for performance enhancing drugs.

International skepticism was enhanced by yesterday's report in the "Orange County Register" that over 200 positive drug tests last year among American Olympic hopefuls led to only 10 suspensions. There is enough suspicion to go around on this issue.

China left 27 Olympians at home. Eight Olympians have tested positive in Sydney with five medals forfeited. And 11 more athletes were sent home because of earlier test results. One blamed his test result on spiked toothpaste.

But when it was revealed that world shot put champion C.J. Hunter tested positive with more than 1,000 times the normal amount of nandrolone without yet being disciplined by American officials, the drug cheating spotlight focused as never before on the United States.

C.J. Hunter, '99 Shot Put world champion - There is nothing anyone can say or do or offer me to get me to bring any kind of shame on the people that I love. And that group is small. And it's small for a reason. You can't trust a lot of people.

Ley (voice-over)- From the look of it, the rest of the world doesn't trust Hunter's explanation, a bad diet supplement, an explanation ridiculed by doping experts, any more than it trusts U.S. anti-doping credibility.

Much of the world press and the Olympic movement sees a country that won the Sydney medal chase but did not discipline a world champion who failed four drug tests this summer.

Alexandre de Merode, IOC medical commission chairman- As this case of Hunter appears, we were not informed. I was surprised because it's of course an IAAF matter. And then that was the first time that I have heard anything about.

Arne Ljungqvist, IAAF medical commission chairman- That is a problem we have of course with the strict confidentiality rule they have to apply. So I can see that they are squeezed between two regulations. And they have to find the solution.

Craig Masback, Executive Director, USA Track and Field- We have a different legal norm in the United States than other countries have. We think that people are innocent until proven guilty. It's sad that the rest of the world doesn't understand it or doesn't have a legal system that rises up to the same standard. But that's the reality of it.

Ley- Though the accepted practice internationally, suspending an athlete based on one test of a urine sample, is the same standard used in the United States for public employees such as bus drivers and train operators, the lengthy U.S. disciplinary process now sparks the same charges at the USA that Americans made in the wake of Ben Johnson's 1988 scandal, or suspiciously dominant performances by communist bloc athletes during the Cold War.

Robert Helmick, Former President, USOC- Historically, other countries have loved to American bash. We have always done very, very well in the Olympics. They're quick to make accusations about us.

However, number one, they like the money. They like the money that comes from the United States. Number two, we were the first country to deal with the Amateur Sports Act to start to give athletes rights.

Ley- Indeed, as family friend Johnnie Cochran stood nearby, Hunter's wife, sprinter Marion Jones, an earlier Olympic cover story, pledged to use those rights.

Marion Jones, Olympic athlete- I have total and complete respect and believe that the legal system will do what's needed to do to clear his name.

Dr. Robert Voy, former USOC chief medical officer- The problem with the way U.S. handles doping is that we just have too many lawyers in the United States. That's a fact.

Ley- Voy, the USOC's former chief medical officer, says discipline handled by other countries in weeks often takes many months in the United States.

Voy- That arouses a lot of questions of secrecy and manipulation and withholding information. It's time for the athletes to step up to the plate and say, "Listen, I'm getting tired of getting fingers pointed at me and all the innuendoes just because I won a gold medal that I probably am on drugs. I want to be tested every three, four weeks in a program so that I can get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval or certificate that I'm drug-free.

Ley- Voy is critical of the USOC's doping diligence. His successor as the anti-doping chief, Wade Exxem (ph), resigned this summer, charging a cover-up of positive results. Among the allegations revealed yesterday was the cancellation just prior to the Sydney games of a USOC program of unannounced drug testing.

Those charges echo the draft findings of a USOC audit. The 1998 report warned of shortcomings and loopholes in USOC drug testing, that due process often impedes deterrence, and penalties for drug cheats are inconsistent.

Dr. David Smith, Member, USOC Drug Program Audit Team- The private nature of the Olympic effort in the United States in a certain sense breeds success. But it also breeds a potential for fraud, whereas other countries there was more government supervision. Like Canada is an example.

John Hoberman, University of Texas- Such a result would be entirely compatible with the results of my own research into how the doping system works. The USOC has not been performing well.

There are critical personnel changes that are required there. But the people in charge do not seem to recognize that.

Ley- OUTSIDE THE LINES sought reaction from the USOC on the C.J. Hunter case and was referred to U.S. Track and Field. That group's executive director, after an intense week of finger-pointing and name-calling, took the extraordinary step of offering to relinquish all control of U.S. Track and Field drug testing and adjudication to the IOC's anti-doping agency.

Masback- I can only feel that there was some sort of conspiracy that had nothing to do with us. The IOC was upset about the events of Salt Lake City and how that scandal played, about how John McCain called several of them before Congress, about how General Barry McCaffrey has questioned their interests and authority in taking on drug testing. And who knows what else? Jealousies about the United States. For some reason, we became the sort of victim of choice this week.

And rather than speak to me privately and really talk about how to improve things, they go public and ruin their own games. What's the sense of that?

Hoberman- What we need to recognize is that just about everybody has been running ineffective and inadequate programs, which included if not active cover-ups, sitting on relevant information about positive for months in the case of the United States, even for years.

Ley- A former USOC president believes the charges made by the rest of the sporting world should be answered for the American public.

Smith- We're entitled to some explanation after the games. And I hope we get them. And I hope they're good.

The questions about who knew what when should be explained. I don't see any reason at all why there should be any question in the minds of the American public about what happened and when it happened.

Ley- The USOC this morning had no specific comment of the report of nearly 200 undisciplined positive drug tests. As for the allegations by Dr. Robert Voy that drug use is common among elite American athletes, a USOC spokesperson called Voy's opinion not fact. And he also said that Voy was misleading.

When we continue, we'll go live to Sydney and talk with a track analyst who has lived at Stadium Australia for these games and a columnist concerned that the modern games have peaked in popularity.

Ley- More drug questions than ever surrounding the Olympics, and many of them swirling around the United States. To consider these issues early on Monday morning from Sydney, we welcome Larry Rawson, a leading expert of American international track and field. Larry works for ESPN. And in Sydney, he covered the action for Westwood One Radio. And also from Sydney, Christine Brennan, columnist for "USA Today."

Larry, let me begin with you. What's the late word on this entire issue now?

Larry Rawson, ESPN Track and Field analyst- Bob, what we've seen is cases -- I swear there's a new Olympic sport called verbal skeet shooting. And I've never seen anything like this at major levels going on.

And there's been day after day of major releases. The most recent one is Arne Ljungqvist, who is connected to the IOC and is the chief medical officer, if you will, of the IAAF, which is the world track and field body. He has come out and said today that he feels that he is using as a threat the suspension of USA track and field athletes from competing internationally unless they come into line with all of the other countries in the way they report drug cases.

And another case that happened with the USOC today coming out and saying that there were 33 positives connected to USA track and field within the last year, a higher figure than we know.

The breakdown was two drugs that were unknown, 26 connected to what we would call minor cases of ephedrine use, that type of thing, stimulants, and five cases of anabolic steroids. So all that is within the last year they claim.

But that came out of the blue again today. This is quite serious and very ugly.

Ley- Christine, let me before I get your overall thoughts on the games, just to be an American journalist in Sydney and watch this international onslaught, you must have heard some curious things both from your colleagues and from other internationals connected with the Olympic movement.

Christine Brennan, columnist, "USA TODAY"- Absolutely, Bob. And one of the interesting things is there are international issues as well. And I think that some interesting points are being brought out by American athletes talking about, "Wait a minute, what about the rest of the world?"

For example, FINA (ph), the international governing body that governs swimming, actually has described the fact that they have had very few out-of-competition tests for swimming this year. And U.S. coaches were very angry that a lot of swimmers were not being tested. So you had concern and questions all around about swimming.

Another example, the International Olympic Committee, EPO, one of the hot new drugs, the test that was supposed to catch use maybe up to a month, turns out that here at the Olympics they could only catch the last three days of usage, which is meaningless. It's an intelligence test, Bob, because what that means is if you can count to three, you won't test positive.

So while the U.S. is taking it on the chin, Larry is right, there are a lot of serious questions that we should be asking U.S. officials. I think the reality is that this is -- Craig Masback said in the piece this has been a bad week for U.S. track and field and the U.S. Olympic Committee. But there are also serious issues about what in the world is going on in the IOC and the swimming federation, et cetera, et cetera.

Ley- Well, Larry, let me pick up on the question of EPO, which is of course one of the modern drugs like HGH where testing is an issue. Christine mentioned that.

There was an option, was there not, for two different tests to be used by the IOC? And they sat down before the games and had to make a choice.

Rawson- That's true. Let me be quick here because we're covering a lot of important territory. EPO basically was something founded in the mid-1980s to help patients, cancer patients and people who had AIDS, because it increases red blood cells. Quickly found its way into the sports world and gets used basically to increase red blood cells, oxygen, and performance enhancement.

Let me add also here that of the 333 tests that were done, nobody was found to have EPO, as you heard from Christine Brennan, was being used here. No surprises here. Easy thing to bet on.

What's going on here is something that the Australians discovered a blood test that would be effective for at least two to three weeks. And the French had a urinalysis which was good for two or three days.

Everybody was -- and the lead-up coming into this was this is really going to help catch people. And they trumpeted this, the IOC did. They had a meeting in Lezanne (ph) and behind closed doors decided that you had to test positive in both tests, thereby negating the Australian test, which they claimed was inconclusive in and of itself. So it really proved...

Ley- So they could have had a timely test, but they elected to not go that way.

Rawson- in a sense it scared people. And it scared people such as the Chinese from keeping 27 athletes home, which later they admitted were basically EPO-type people.

Ley- Credibility certainly is the issue for the Americans and also for the International Olympic Committee. Victor Conte is C.J. Hunter's nutritionist. Every Olympic athlete who tests positive certainly has an explanation. This is C.J. Hunter's explanation for his positive test, through the mouth of his nutritionist, Victor Conte.

Let's give a listen.

Victor Conte, C.J. Hunter's Nutritionist- Some of the manufacturers where if they do a run of a given one of these pro hormones and they don't properly clean their equipment. And then they put on the next supplement, whether it be iron or a multi vitamin or a calcium supplement, the first few batches of the supplements that are encapsulated and thereafter a part of that run will in fact be contaminated with nandrolone.

Ley- That, the explanation. Christine Brennan, some scientists told me this past week that's the equivalent of "the dog ate my homework."

Brennan- That's what I was thinking, well all of saying, "Well, that's an excuse we've all heard before."

The thing about C.J. Hunter, and of course the reason we care about C.J. Hunter, is because he is Mr. Marion Jones, I guess it the way we would describe him. He is married to Marion Jones, the superstar of the Olympic games for the United States, Bob, as we know.

And the question is, of course, what did she know? When did she know it? What's in the medicine cabinet? What are they talking about at the breakfast table?

People might say, "Oh, come on, you're a killjoy. She just won three gold medals and two bronzes. And let her have her day."

I don't know. I think the questions remain. If you cannot be sure that the foot race you are watching at the Olympic games -- or at any event, but the Olympics being the greatest stage of all -- if you cannot be sure that that foot race is clean, if we cannot trust the foot race, cannot be sure that who's cheating and who's not as we're watching these eight men or women go 100 yards, 100 meters, then what in the world can we trust? And where is track and field? And where are the Olympic games if we can't be certain?

So the C.J. Hunter issue is a big one from the standpoint of he tested positive not once, not twice, but four times this summer. I don't see that as inadvertent. Obviously, it's alleged at this point. The process will take its course, the legal process. But we have to ask questions of C.J. Hunter and of course Marion Jones.

Ley- OK, we're going to step aside for just a moment. We will have more from Sydney with Larry Rawson and Christine Brennan in just a moment looking at how the American public at large is viewing this issue of drugs and the U.S. Olympic effort.

David Letterman, talk show host- Top 10 signs an Olympic athlete is using steroids. Last discus throw broke a window on the Mir space station. Oh, my goodness.

Ley- We continue with our guests from Sydney, Larry Rawson and Christine Brennan.

Christine, it's been said in this political season people are getting their information about the political campaign from late night television. Now the Olympics. And that's sort of satire, it has a creeping effect in American society you would think.

Brennan- Oh, absolutely, Bob. You know, I think that we saw that the TV ratings were some of the lowest ever. And you wonder. There's many reasons for that, of course, the Internet, NBC's decision to tape the Olympics, which obviously was -- it was a mistake or some kind of a questionable call on that.

Nonetheless, you throw all of this into the mix, reality is it seems like Americans are not stopping their lives as we did 20 or 30 years ago to watch the Olympics from 8 to 11 every night.

And I think one of the reasons is the cumulative effect of the real world crash landing into the Olympic games, whether it's NBA, WNBA, tennis players, we see them all the time, now we see them again at the Olympics, whether it's the drug issue, which I think is huge.

Even though we might say, "Oh, we love Marion Jones," and people are cheering like crazy for her and feel great about her and her smile and what a wonderful performance she had here. But then there is that -- it just kind of hits away and hit away, Bob, to the point where you start to say, "What is this?"

And another drug story, another one here, another one there, I think you start to say, "Are they all tainted?" Where do you draw the line? How does the public -- how does Joe or Jane Public in Omaha, how do they trust this and understand it?

That's of course the issue. And I think the issue is -- and Larry and I probably have a lot of thoughts -- but I don't know what the answer is. It may be such an incredibly big issue at this point that I don't know where the Olympic games even begins to start to address it.

Ley- The central issue between IOC and USOC may come down to individual rights. This morning in the "New York Times," Mary Decker Slaney (ph) and Dorian Lambulay Coleman (ph), who is an attorney, addressed the issue of individual rights of American athletes.

And in their piece, they wrote, "The International Olympic Committee, eager to deflect attention from its own role with respect to the issue of drug usage by athletes, has renewed its disingenuous call for the United States to get its own house in order. This witch hunt is both extraordinary cynical and unfair. This is a bold effort to make U.S. track and field a scapegoat for the Olympic drug testing program, which has always been a house of cards."

And Larry, Mary Decker Slaney herself had an incident winning a lawsuit against the USOC. But let's talk about the issue of individual rights. U.S. athletes have more rights legally than any others in the world it would seem.

Rawson- Craig Masback and Joe Pilgrim (ph), his lawyer, have an attitude I think of being hugely conservative and defensive almost of the athletes. And they allowed due process to go on for as long as two years in some cases, Bob.

The new USA Anti-doping Association, part of the world organization that is due to take over drug testing in the United States from federations on October 2, Frank Short (ph) is heading that. He has told me he feels he can get this process down to two months in due process, A sample, B sample, a hearing, and then a decision, and then a name right away. And he feels that's an extremely important thing that his agency has got to do and still protect the individual rights.

Ley- But Craig Masback said he looked across the table from Dick Pound (ph), the IOC vice president, this week. And Masback said that Pound said, "No matter what system, if it's controlled by Americans, I and the IOC will not trust it."

Therefore, Masback said, "Well, you go ahead, IOC, you test all our track athletes." That's an extraordinarily generous offer it would seem.

Rawson- I thought that was a very good thing to do by Masback. It was also smart to what he did recently, announce an international panel, which the World Doping Organization will have representation on, to immediately come in in the next couple of weeks and audit everything that's happened at USA track and field from January 1, 1999, to the present time, and look at all our books, and have total transparency. Smart move on his part.

And drug testing is supposed to be taken over in just a week or two anyway. But I thought that was a very good move.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has its problems too. You go back over 20 years between their chief medical officers, Dr. Exxem and Dr. Voy all accuse cover-ups. There needs to be an investigation of I think the U.S. Olympic Committee as well.

Ley- Christine, what about that delicate balance between individual athletes' rights and clean competition? Perhaps the most prophetic sign was that shot of Johnnie Cochran at the C.J. Hunter press conference.

Brennan- Yes, Johnnie Cochran is there. Is Geraldo far behind? And that's again the real world crashing into the Olympic games.

I'm reminded of a case that of course was very famous, infamous, and did not involve drugs. And that was Tonya Harding.

And I'm reminded, and I mention this not because of the drug issue at all, Bob, but because of the fact that Tonya Harding threatened a $25 million lawsuit against the U.S. Olympic Committee to be able to compete at the Olympic games in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.

The U.S. Olympic Committee had to back down because of course Tonya at that point was not proven guilty of anything. And she went to the Olympic games, and of course we know what happened. Point being that the U.S. Olympic Committee and in fact our public, I remember very strongly there were a lot of people who felt Tonya Harding should be at the Olympic games.

So if you take that issue -- that's of course a very -- athlete's rights, a legal issue, and you put it into this framework, how is it different? And I think we would find that most Americans would say, even though they're not sure -- C.J. Hunter by the way was not at the Olympic games. He withdrew.

But let's say C.J. Hunter were competing here. I bet you would find a lot of Americans' sympathy and a lot of American public support for his...

Ley- OK..

Brennan- ... ability to continue to perform.

Ley- ... Christine Brennan, thank you very much. Our thanks to Christine Brennan live in Sydney, Australia, and also to Larry Rawson, who is staying down under to report on the Para-Olympics (ph). Both of you travel safely, please.

We will have more ahead on OUTSIDE THE LINES in just a moment. So stay with us.

Ley- Now that the world has discovered the Internet can bring you live Olympic results, remember OUTSIDE THE LINES is always online. Type the keyword otlweekly off our main page, and then you are taken to a complete library of all our Sunday morning programs, video on demand, and transcripts.

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Ley- A reminder about our NFL action. Tonight, at 8-30 Eastern, the Eagles and the Falcons right after "NFL Primetime." And in one hour, we get you set for the all the week five action with "NFL Countdown." And joining Chris Berman's gang this morning, Steve Young here in the studio.

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