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Friday, October 13
USATF calls event 'regrettable'

NEW YORK -- Track and field's national governing body joined the four members of the 400-meter relay team Friday in apologizing for their "disgraceful" display during the Olympics.

The runners on the gold medal team -- Maurice Greene, Jon Drummond, Bernard Williams and Brian Lewis -- preened and flexed their muscles while posing during and at the end of their victory lap. Williams and Lewis wrapped the American flag around their heads and two of them posed bare-chested.

The USATF didn't feel the behavior of the winning U.S. 4x100 relay team was right.

When they were presented their medals by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the four continued clowning, with Greene sticking out his tongue at the cameras.

"Their actions following their victory were not what USATF and America's Olympic fans have come to expect from their champions," USATF chief executive officer Craig Masback said during a conference call.

Masback called the behavior "regrettable" and said his group in the future will have a written policy of what conduct is expected of athletes.

He and the runners said they have received considerable feedback since the Oct. 1 race, most of it negative. Drummond -- who is black, as are the other runners -- said some of the mail was "racial" and "name-calling."

"I'm very disappointed that people can be that crude," said Drummond, the team captain, adding he had received 125 to 200 e-mails a day for the first week.

"I would like to apologize for our actions during the postrace victory lap and during the awards ceremony," he added. "We meant no disrespect or offense with our actions, and we understand that our behavior caused pain and anger for many Americans. ...

"Sadly, our gold medal has become a symbol not of hard work sand victory, but a reminder of disgrace. We are deeply sorry for any shame we brought to the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee), USATF and the entire nation.

"We hope through our words and actions in coming months, we will convince everyone of our character, our respect for the flag, and our pride in being Americans. We guarantee that what happened in Sydney will not be repeated."

Drummond added that he was "bewildered" by the reaction to the team's display. He said one of his main goals in track is to entertain the crowd, and that's what he thought the team was doing.

He said the spectators at Olympic Stadium not only cheered and encouraged them, but asked the runners to give them parts of their uniforms.

"Now, I've been told I've been an embarrassment and a disgrace," Drummond said. "That hurts."

Greene said the team was caught up in the excitement of winning a gold medal, the first for each runner except for himself.

"When we finished, we were so overwhelmed, we just lost our minds," the 100-meter champion, said. "We were not thinking, just acting. We were doing whatever came to us."

While many were offended, Greene said "some enjoyed everything we did."

"I had just accomplished a long dream," Drummond said. "I had wanted to be an Olympian since I was 4. To accomplish that dream was an incredible feeling. I was numb. Every emotion was happening all at once. It was temporary insanity. I lost touch with reality."

Greene, who had apologized for himself and his teammates shortly after their antics, again was apologetic.

"We are truly sorry," he said. "I know a lot of people were offended."

He said their celebration could not be equated to an end zone spike in football because football players do not compete for their country.

"A flag is not involved in football," he said.

Lewis said the team did not mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and the response "messed up the joy of winning a gold medal."

"Maybe we went over the edge," he said. "You can't do things that are disrespectful."
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