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Outside the Lines: USOC drug allegations

Outside the Lines - How Drug Free is the USA's Quest For Olympic Gold?

Announcer: July 23, 2000.


Dr. Wade Exum, Former United States Olympic Committee drug czar: It's going to be Michael Edy all the way. It looks so easy.


Bob Ley, Host: This weekend, the best track athletes in the United States are chasing a spot on the Olympic team and with it the prestige and the profit of a gold medal.


Dr. Robert Voy, Former Chief Medical Officer, United States Olympic Committee: The least important gold medal in the Olympic games is an automatic million dollars.


Ley: Meantime, the doctor who ran drug testing for the U.S. Olympic Committee charges that numerous positive drug tests were overlooked by the USOC.


Exum: The world perception is that the USOC does not run a doping control program, they run a controlled doping program.


Ley: Today on OUTSIDE THE LINES, how drug free is the USA's quest for Olympic gold?

Announcer: OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALLATT. Joining us from ESPN studios, Bob Ley.

Ley: It's pretty much old news that the bloom is off the Olympic rose. But even so, it was not a good week for the Olympic movement.

Two men responsible for bringing the 2002 winter games to Salt Lake City were indicted under federal racketeering laws. In China, where a meteoric rise in women's swimming has been accompanied by a drug scandal and global suspicion, world record holder Yu Won Won (ph) was banned by the Chinese swimming federation for four years following a positive drug result.

And in Germany, two men, once government officials in former East Germany, were convicted in a court of law for directing the state policy of doping Olympic athletes.

Here in the United States, Carl Lewis, now retired, arguably the greatest Olympian of all time, was missing from the Olympic track and field trials. His coach was quoted as saying Lewis was protesting the continuing influence of drugs in his sport.

Against that backdrop come the allegations from the physician who managed the anti-doping program for the U.S. Olympic Committee, charges that strike at the very heart of this country's Olympic efforts.


Exum: I can tell you that there are names. I can tell you that there is proof.

Ley (voice-over): Proof that numerous American Olympians escaped any punishment from the U.S. Olympic Committee after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Dr. Wade Exum says the cover-up was the bitter fruit of a doping control system he administered for nine years, but did not believe in.

Exum: I think it's a sham. I've said I don't know how many times the process is a sham to me.

Ley: Exum charges that in recent years absolutely no sanction was imposed on roughly half the American athletes testing positive for prohibited substances, that in his nine years on the job Exum saw scores of positive results for testosterone but has never once seen the USOC penalize such an athlete.

Exum alleges that synthetic testosterone is routinely abused by American Olympians and that he has direct knowledge of athletes who tested positive, escaped USOC sanctioning, and gone on to win Olympic medals.

Those charges are denied out of hand by the USOC and one of its former presidents.

Robert Helmick, Former president, United States Olympic Committee: I'd like to understand how would that go about? Who would be the person that would do it? It would have to be his medical team?

It can't be the administration. When I was president of the Olympic Committee is when we were really developing this program. And that was over a period of seven years.

I never would have any information. That was all sequestered from me. It was all in the hands of the doctors.

Ley: But doctors have been the most vocal critics of the USOC's drug enforcement. Dr. Robert Voy was the USOC's chief medical officer in the 1980s. And while he does not allege a drug cover-up, he sees Exum's experience as similar to his own.

Voy: There but for the grade of God go I. I think if I'd have stayed with the Olympic Committee in that position, those were the frustrations I was feeling at the time. And I could foresee myself being in the same situation that he's in.

My frustrations of course were what I thought was not a real determination and dedication of the Olympic Committee to put on a bona fide and credible drug testing program that would solve the problem.

Helmick: I'd remind you that the worst nightmare for the United States Olympic Committee is to have a positive at the Olympics. The United States Olympic Committee has no interest in covering up a positive test and having an athlete that's not clean go to the Olympics. What we want to do is to make sure that none of our athletes that go on to the Olympics are on drugs or have been on drugs.

So it just doesn't make sense that we'd be covering up. Why would we be doing that?

Ley: But a veteran Olympic journalist believes the larger question is the testing itself.

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune: The drug testing is just totally useless because the drug testing can't catch the people taking drugs. The athletes are way ahead. The chemists are way ahead.

The new drugs are way ahead. By the time they develop a test, the athletes have moved on to something else.

Voy: My six-year tenure and Dr. Exum's nine years, that's 15 years of dealing with this problem, it is not a rocket scientist problem. It's something that can be resolved if there is really a dedication to doing so.

Ley: Voy and Exum each maintain they took their concerns to the highest levels of the USOC. But the organization says neither doctor ever produced any evidence documenting a cover-up or official use of banned substances.

Helmick: Here is someone who is intimately involved in our program and has been for - I believe we hired him when I was president. So it's been about nine years. And if there was something wrong, why didn't he say something before now?

Why is it suddenly after he gets dismissed that it comes out? So I think it's very unfortunate.

Exum: I have also had statements from the USOC that says that I have responsibility but not authority. I've had statements from the USOC that says, "This is not a democracy. You will do what I say."

I can't tell you that - I mean, they can certainly say to people after the fact that it might have been something I was supposed to have fixed. I was not given the authority to fix much of anything.

Ley: After the Sydney Olympics, the USOC will shift its domestic drug testing to what it says will be a new independent organization funded by both the federal government and the USOC.

Exum: The words that you read in the paper is that it's an independent agency. I would invite you to look into the backgrounds of all of those who are associated with that agency right now. And I defy you to find any independence.

Ley: But it may not matter who is testing whom.

Hersh: It's reach the state sadly now, however, where the guilty can't be found guilty and the innocent can't prove themselves innocent. It's like Stacy Dregila (ph), the world record holder in the pole vault, said Friday after her qualifying jump.

She said, "I sit in the stands. I hear people when they see a huge performance say, "What are those people on?" She said, "I hope they don't lump me in that group because I've set so many records."

Exum: The poor bastard is that guy who finished fourth and who did not even get to go to the games because somebody who was taking something that gave him an advantage over him or her is going in their place.


Ley: Exum is hardly alone in alleging official complicity in the national drug testing program. And Italian scientist charges that in the mid-1980s that country's Olympic lab helped track and weight lifting stars evade drug tests. And just this week, an Australian Olympic discus thrower said officials of the Olympic host nation orchestrated a drug cover-up.

It's not even clear yet if athletes at the upcoming games will have their urine tested as has been the case for years or whether an advance to blood doping will be implemented. The games in Sydney begin in 54 days.

Next, we discuss charges of a cover-up and the entire issue of doping with an official of the U.S. Olympic Committee, an Olympic who broke a record once thought unbreakable, and a journalist familiar with the Olympic games.


Ley: Our topic, doping in Olympic sports and the charges leveled this week against the U.S. Olympic Committee.

We are joined from Colorado Springs by the managing director of media for the USOC, Mike Moran; from Sacramento, Mike Powell, the former U.S. Olympian who broke a 23-year-old record in the long jump -- and his world record is standing now for nine years -- and also from Sacramento, Jere Longman, the chief Olympics correspondent for the "New York Times" and author of the book "The Girls of Summer" about the U.S. Women's World Cup soccer champions.

Mike Moran, let me begin with you. You're in charge of media. It's been an interesting week.

Why should U.S. Olympic fans have credible faith in the testing given the charges that Wade Exum has put out there in his racial discrimination suit?

Mike Moran, Managing Director of Media, United States Olympic Committee: Bob, the suit is farther than just racial discrimination. It's a wide-ranging array of charges.

Ley: Well, let's focus on the drugs.

Moran: Exactly. Dr. Exum's allegations about the USOC's involvement in drug testing, particularly cover-ups or anything like that, are absolutely untrue. There is no one at the USOC at any level that would sacrifice an athlete's health for the price of a gold medal.

There is no cover-up. There is no complicity.

His other allegations are either unsubstantiated or not relevant to the central issue. To allege that the USOC and any member of its staff or advisory groups would be involved in this kind of a cover-up is right out of an Oliver Stone movie.

Ley: Well, let me ask you this. You're saying that there are no positives on the books that went undisciplined.

Moran: Bob, a drug test positive is not a drug testing violation or a conviction. More than 80 percent of the positives that we get are in the ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine category, the over-the-counter-type stimulants that are involved in cold medicines...

Ley: Let's talk about testosterone for a second, though. Are there testosterone positives that went undisciplined?

Moran: ... No. No. Most of the positives that were not disciplined involve the ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine category. And by the way, those are not sanctionable when they're out of competition results. They're sanctionable in competition.

And under IF and IOC rules, most of those ephedrine type of positives end up being put aside because of the circumstances, either out of competition or inadvertent use.

What Dr. Exum does not explain in his 50 - and we don't know where he's getting his figures. We don't have an idea necessarily where he's getting his figures.

But there are circumstances in those 50 percent of drug test positives, due process, appeals, the court system. The bottom line is what happens at the end of that process?

And by the way, Dr. Exum sets it up this morning in his taped piece. But the fact of the matter is for nine years as head of our drug control program, he had the responsibility and he had the authority to follow through every drug test positive to its conclusion in the process then by the governing bodies.

Ley: Mike Powell, let me ask you. You've been around the block more than a few times in track and field for several decades...

Mike Powell, Long jump world record holder: Yes.

Ley: ... Do you think there's any chance that there were positives that even if they were clearly violations and clearly should have been adjudicated that went undisciplined?

Powell: Well, I've been around the sport at an elite level since 1984. And as most of the athletes, I've heard a lot of allegations. But I haven't seen any proof positive of any wrongdoing.

And for myself as an athlete, I think it hurts our sport if people are making allegations without proof. Now if these allegations are true and there are going to be some documents or somebody actually says they've actually been a part of it, then I think it needs to be taken care of.

But if it's not going to be proven, I think it just hurts the sport because that seems to be the only time that we get any kind of publicity.

Ley: But Jere, isn't the bigger question the fact that the last two medical men in charge of the drug testing, Bob Voy and now Wade Exum, have had very critical things to say about the commitment by the USOC to test the drugs?

Jere Longman, Chief Olympics correspondent, "New York Times": Well, I think we can all be honest here. The commitment by not only the United States Olympic Committee, but every other Olympic committee in the world, and the International Olympic Committee, has been extremely deficient.

I mean, the Exum case is the sort of - a sensational headline. But there's a far larger issue. And that's that at the Summer Olympics in Sydney you cannot trust one result that you see.

And you cannot believe with any certainty that it has been achieved without the use of performance enhancing drugs because the testing is so deficient that there are not tests for drugs that a lot of athletes are believed to be using in large numbers such as EPO, which was at the Tour de France scandal a couple of years ago, and the human growth hormone. So it means nothing when an athlete passes the tests.

And as Phil Hersh said earlier in the show, the far worse problem than guilty athletes getting away is that the innocent athletes can no longer prove their innocence. So...

Moran: I agree. Bob, I agree...

Powell: The thing is we don't, we shouldn't...

Ley: Mike Powell, go ahead.

Powell: ... We shouldn't have to prove our innocence. I mean, we're out here working hard. And we have a small window of opportunity to show what's the hard work we've done.

And for somebody to come out and say a five-second blurb that's going to discredit work we've put in our whole lives, I take personal offense at it. We don't have to prove ourselves. If somebody is doing something wrong, we prove somebody is doing something wrong.

Ley: Mike Moran, is the science though deficient? Are the cheaters so far ahead that the tests really aren't that reliable?

Moran: Yeah, Bob, I think that's been one of the major problems. And it's one of the reasons, frankly, we're going to the independent agency which includes a large amount of money for research.

It's possible even by Sydney there could be a blood test for EPO. And by the way, Bob, there will be urine testing in Sydney across the board as usual. The question is whether there will be an EPO test, which is one of the most abhorrent of the banned drugs.

Ley: But they have not even made a determination less than two months out. That's rather late eleventh-hour thinking, isn't it?

Moran: No, but I think the IOC feels there's a 50-50 chance or better that this EPO test could be ready. But you're right. The athletes have been ahead of the research.

But along with the White House drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey and our new independent - and by the way, Wade Exum impugns the independent agency, which by the way I should mention is headed by Frank Shorter, who was one of the most outspoken athletes for now more than three decades, an athlete who probably lost a medal to a drugged East German in 1976.

And suddenly now Frank Shorter's credibility is impugned? I don't believe so.

I think this is the answer. We have been accused of being the fox guarding the hen house by doing our own testing. And that's a valid type of appearance criticism. It's the reason we're going to an independent agency.

Starting after the Sydney Olympics, the USOC and our governing bodies will not be in the process of collecting, sanctioning, appeals, or the final outcome of any of our drug tests.

Ley: That begins after the Sydney games.

Moran: It does.

Ley: We're going to pick up the pressure to compete and how you of course can be lured into the ability to use drugs. We'll talk with Mike Powell and Mike Moran and Jere Longman about how money and pressure forces athletes to cheat in just a moment.



Voy: The dilemma here is that to compete internationally today, if you're going to compete, you very likely will have to do something to even the playing field. And that usually means using drugs that do enhance performance.


Ley: We continue with the USOC's Mike Moran, Mike Powell, and Jere Longman of the "New York Times."

Mike Powell, take me back to the late '80s, early '90s. You're battling Carl Lewis, chasing Bob Beemon's record. The pressure on you to get a little bit of burst down the runway, a couple of more centimeters, must have been incredible. If you wanted to cheat, could you have cheated and gotten away with it?

Powell: Well, the thing is, it's been out there in the past. But my coach Randy Heinz (ph) had told me a long time ago that you can offset any kind of illegal things that people are doing by putting in hard work and being smart. So that's the way that I looked at it.

And I chose not to look at people as possibly using drugs because I couldn't do anything about it. I just stayed focused on what I needed to do.

But I want to tell you something. If somebody were to tell me that all athletes who have world records or who have gotten gold medals have been on steroids, I'm going to punch them in the mouth because that pisses me off.

I've been working my butt off my whole career. And for somebody to sit back in their white jacket or something and say that all athletes have been on drugs, that's not fair.

Ley: But Jere Longman, isn't it a parlor game when writers, journalists, track observers get together off the record, "Gee, who's on what?"

Longman: Well, it's because the testing is so deficient. You cannot if you're - no serious journalist can trust what he's seeing. And that's the shame of all this is that there - it means nothing that an athlete passes a drug test because there are no tests for a lot of these.

The athletes have become very sophisticated. And the chemists for using synthetic versions of hormones that exist naturally in the body.

Powell: How about saying some athletes? How about saying some athletes instead of saying the athletes...

Moran: Some.

Powell: ... You're just making a blanket statement.

Longman: No, that's what I'm saying is that you can't - that I can no longer trust anything I see. So I, that's what I'm saying, the innocent can't prove their innocence. So when I hear the athletes complaining about each other...

Powell: We have don't have to prove our innocence, though.

Longman: ... Then I have to be very suspicious. And I can no longer trust anything I see. Neither can the fans. Neither do the other athletes.

Moran: Bob Ley, that's absurd.

Powell: With all due respect to Jere...


Moran: What appalls me this morning is the broad brush being applied to the thousands of American athletes. Are you saying that every weightlifter in the trials in New Orleans, every gymnast, every fencer, every synchronized swimmer when they go to the Olympics should be viewed in a jaundiced way by the American public or by me...

Longman: Well, Mike, let me ask you this...

Moran: ... as not being able to achieve any results without the use of drugs? That's absurd.

Longman: No, I'm not saying they're all using drugs. I'm just saying you can no longer tell who is and who isn't.

Moran: I don't believe that.

Longman: Mike, if we start from the point that there are no tests for the substances that athletes are using or believed to be using in widespread numbers, if we start from the point that there are no tests for those, then it means absolutely nothing when an athlete passes a drug test. So what I'm saying is I do not believe...

Moran: There are no reliable tests...

Longman: ... every athlete is using drugs. But I'm just saying you can no longer - you can't tell who is and who isn't.

Powell: Just don't use the blanket statements. It's not fair.

Ley: Go ahead, Mike Powell.

Powell: Don't use the blanket statements because it's people out here who worked their whole lives to realize a dream. And you're destroying it because of your pessimistic thinking.

Longman: Well, Mike, I agree with you. I agree with you...

Powell: There may be trouble. But let me finish. Let me finish. There may be troubles out there, though. And I agree with you. But those think that there are troubles, then deal with those people and don't paint a broad brush over the whole Olympic movement because some people are cheating.

Ley: Mike Moran...

Powell: Make sure you specify that point.

Ley: ... Mike Moran, Carl Lewis is arguably the greatest Olympian of all times, certainly the greatest living American track Olympian. He's not in Sacramento now. Is he posturing? Or does he know what he's talking about when he and Joe Douglas say, "Well, we've got six names. And I'm not coming back to the sport until it cleans up."

Moran: Carl is...

Powell: You can't...

Moran: ... Carl is arguably one of the greatest living Olympians. And he has a right to express an opinion.

Ley: Is he right?

Moran: I don't believe he's right. I agree...

Powell: It's an opinion. Nobody...

Moran: ... with Mike Powell. The broad brushstroke does not work here. If Carl is willing to come forth with names of athletes who have tested positive and have gone on to win medals or anything else, he should do that.

As a matter of fact, we have given Dr. Exum that opportunity to come forward with these names. There is a commitment here which I want to repeat over and over and over again. We owe our athletes across the board a level playing field. There should be no reason American athletes should go to the starting line or the blocks or the pool with an idea that they cannot beat their competitors because somebody is on drugs.

That absolutely goes to the core of our credibility, our morals and our ethics. And we owe our athletes that level playing field.

Ley: In one succinct sentence, let me go around first with Jere Longman, how much confidence that the drug results in Sydney will be accurate? Jere.

Longman: Well, you mean the drug results...

Ley: Yeah.

Longman: ... or the actual performance results?

Ley: Well, the fact that the people we're watching are going to pass tests and the tests are...

Longman: It means absolutely nothing. It means nothing...


Longman: ... The testing is so deficient that no fan should trust anything he sees at the Summer Olympics.

Powell: Oh, man.

Ley: Mike Powell.

Powell: I wish you would stop saying that. Man, you're getting me pissed off, and it's not fair to do that. Now if you want to do blood testing, then that's fine.

But when you talk about athletes using drugs and stuff, you're putting my name in there. And I told you what I would do about somebody who said that.

Ley: Mike Moran.

Powell: Be careful what you say.

Ley: Confidence in the Sydney testing and clean games.

Moran: Yes, we do have confidence in the testing of the Sydney games. And I'm taking apart the EPO thing. I think that you will see good testing.

I think you will unfortunately see positive results. But I think that the Olympic organizations and our sports federations are committed to ending the cheating and the unfair use of drugs.

Ley: OK, gentlemen, we're going to leave it right there. Thank you very much.

Thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Powell, and Jere Longman.

Moran: Thank you, Bob.

Powell: Alrighty.

Ley: Discussing the issue of doping.

Why some major league teams just cannot compete for the post-season. That is next on our Sunday morning edition of OUTSIDE THE LINES.


Ley: Last week, we examined the gap between baseball's haves and have-nots and the commission report suggesting ways to level the economic and actual playing field.

Among the e-mails to our inbox this week, a viewer in Green Bay who is a lifelong fan of a small market teams says, "You see the disparity of baseball firsthand knowing that going into the season that you're not able to be able to field a playoff contender because the cost to keep the rising stars or lure in impact free agents is not there. And it gets frustrating with each passing year."

And from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, "I don't understand what they mean when they say small market teams can't compete. The White Sox and the Oakland As are at the top of the AL with two of the smallest payrolls in the game, even ahead of the Yankees and their $115 million payroll.

"The Marlins are in position for a run on the wild card. And they were baseball's laughingstocks just two years ago.

"It's not impossible to win without a big payroll. You just have to have the right people in the front office and scouting departments."

Those opinions were registered at Tie it in to keyword otlweekly, and check our Web site. That includes a wide array of transcripts and streaming video of all prior shows.

It's also where you can e-mail your reaction and story suggestions. Our e-mail address, Thanks for being in touch.


Ley: Sunday night baseball on ESPN, 8:00 p.m. Eastern the Mets and the Braves right after "Baseball Tonight."

And if you joined us along the way, our program on drug testing and American Olympians will be re-airing on ESPN2 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern today right after the critical World Cup soccer qualifier, the U.S. men visiting Costa Rica.

Again, a reminder, our major league game of the week, the Mets and the Braves here on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Next, you will see the live finish of the Tour de France on "SportsCenter" with Chris McKendry and Larry Beil.

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 Bob Ley takes a look into USOC drug allegations leading up to Sydney.
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