The IOC, FINA, and the Drug Wars Panel Discussion with John Hoberman, Andrew Jennings, Forbes Carlile, Cecil Colwin, John Leonard Moderated by Tim Welsh



Tim Welsh is the head swimming coach of the University of Notre Dame Men’s Team. He has also worked as the head coach at Johns Hopkins University and as an English Instructor and Winthrop College. After graduating with a B.A. in Humanities from Providence College and earning his M.A. in English at the University of Virginia, Tim began his college coaching career. He was assistant coach of the Syracuse Chargers and Syracuse University, and then moved on to Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame. Tim was an NCAA Division III Coach of the Year and has served on the NCAA Rules Committee.

John Hoberman is a professor of Scandinavian and Germanic Languages at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of “Mortal Engines The Science of Performance and the Dehumanization of Sport,” He has dissected a number of sports establishments in Europe and America, showing how they interact to produce a sports drug culture that threatens the very root of western sport, despite the official protestations of the IOC and most sports organizations. He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world sports community on the topic of high performance doping.

Award winning journalist Andrew Jennings contributes to publications worldwide on many topics including sports politics and international organized crime. He worked for many years as an investigative reporter for the BBC and then Granada Television’s World in Action program and is a Faculty Fellow at the University of Brighton. His recent book, The New Lords of the Rings – Olympic Corruption and How to Buy Gold Medals is an astonishing documentation of inner workings of the IOC.

Forbes Carlile was a member of the British Empire in 1977. That same year, he also received the Queens Jubilee Medal. He became an honoree of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 and in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1988. He was the Australian Team Coach at the Olympic Games in London 1948, in Melbourne 1956, and in Moscow 1980. In addition, he became the Scientific Advisor in Rome 1960. Coach Carlile was the Head Coach at the World Championships in Belgrade (1973) and at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland (1950). Coach Carlile has been a life member of the Australian Swimming Coaches Association since 1984. He was elected Master’s Coach of the Year in 1977 and he received the Australian Swimming Coaches Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Swimming in 1990, and in 1995. He received these awards for his direct funding for Swimmers, for teaching and coaching, and for his anti-doping activities. Coach Carlile has been a life member of Ryde Swimming Club since 1967. In addition, since 1987 he has been a life member of the Carlile Swimming Club. Some of his professional accomplishments include Olympic Medalists, World Record Holders, and a Gold World Championship Medalist. Among his Individual World Record Holders are John Bennett, Judy-Joy Davies, Terry Gathercole, Shane Gould, Karen Moras, Gail Neall, Jenny Turrall and Brian Wilkinson. At the Olympic Games he led his athletes to a total of five Gold Medals, four Silver Medals, and three Bronze Medals. Among his Gold Medal Olympians are John Davies, Shane Gould, and Gail Neall. Mr. Carlile has been a speaker at many clinics and is recognized and respected worldwide.

Cecil Colwin has had a distinguished International coaching career, and is also known as an outstanding clinician, lecturer, researcher, author, cartoonist, and illustrator. Cecil has given over 200 lectures and clinics internationally on the sport of swimming. He has written three best-selling swimming books. His latest, “Swimming Into the 21st Century” (1992), with over 300 of Cecil’s own illustrations, is now in its fifth printing. This year, Cecil spent five weeks in Australia, where he attended the Olympic Trials; observed swimming programs in action, and gave a forthright talk on the drug problem in swimming at the Annual Convention of the Australian Swimming Coaches Association. In the past, Cecil has addressed ASCA clinics on a variety of original and thought-provoking topics. This year’s presentation promises to be no exception.

The Introduction is done by Coach Chuck Warner. The moderator is Coach Tim Welsh of Notre Dame University. The panelists are: John Hoberman, University of Texas, author of MORTAL ENGINES, the foremost authority on the history of doping the world today. Coach Cecil Colwin, famous Canadian author and coach, a member of the WSCA Anti-Doping Committee, Coach Forbes Carlile, also a member of the WSCA Anti-Doping Committee, and one of the most famous swimming coaches in the world, from Australia, Andrew Jennings, Award-winning independent Journalist, author of LORDS OF THE RINGS and NEW LORDS OF THE RINGS, from England, and John Leonard, ASCA Executive Director and Chairman of the WSCA Anti-Doping Committee.

Introduction of Tim Welsh by Chuck Warner: It is a frequent habit of ours to talk about the coaches who are successful in terms of putting people on Olympic Teams. The people who are up here today may not be actively coaching now, but they were key to the success of our Olympic efforts from most nations in Atlanta. I think it’s wonderful that we get to hear from them. Moderating the panel is Tim Welsh, a gentleman who contributes to the success of American coaching not only through his own coaching but in many other ways. He has been at Notre Dame for eleven years, and with very little funding for his men’s team, has had a very successful program. He’s been Chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee for three years, and continues to serve on that committee, and gives of himself also to the ASCA. I know he will do a terrific job of moderating today’s panel. Coach Tim Welsh.

Welsh: We are here to discuss the drug wars and the drug situation in our sport. Our intention this afternoon will be to stay on the present situation, and then through the medium of a series of questions, reflect back on the Olympic Games, and then expand and ask “why is this relevant to everyone throughout the world?” Our order of presentation will be that I will begin with a question. I will direct the question to one of the panelists who will have the first go at it, then when that person is finished, anyone else on the panel can have a go at it, and then hopefully, time and energy allowing, we can have some questions from the group at the end.

The Olympic Games in Atlanta are fresh on all of our minds. They appear to have been cleaner and more drug-free than we could have predicted or even feared. To a large extent we want to credit that situation to you men sitting here, may I first of all, on behalf of all of us say, “THANK YOU” for your efforts leading up to these Olympic Games.

How clean where the Games? How big a victory in the drug wars was this victory? And does this victory in Atlanta signal a return to drug-free swimming in any way. John Leonard, may I start with you?

Leonard: How clean where they? They were the cleanest they have been in twenty-five years. There is at least one national program in Europe that was probably dirty in the fifties and continues to be dirty today. No one has ever come close to catching them, and there are undoubtedly individuals that didn’t get caught. But it was the cleanest it has been in a quarter century.

What do we expect for the future? The good news is it was clean, the bad news is, it wasn’t clean for any systematic reason. Not one thing that FINA did in terms of testing prevented anyone from doing anything. From FINA’s own admission, there were only 598 out of competition tests last year, 64 were in the United States, 40 in Australia, and 23 tests in China. The 23 tests in China were conducted by a male tester, which means that they could not do a legitimate test on a female because they could not watch the athlete deposit the sample in the specimen container. Failing to observe the production of the specimen is a violation of FINA procedures, because in prior cases, athletes have hidden vials of “clean” urine in the vagina, and substituted that urine for their own. So the 23 tests in China were either all invalid, or done only on Chinese males (and who cares to worry about testing them.) That leaves 400 and some odd tests to be accounted for. The dirtiest swimming nation on earth had only 23 tests, China, and there is nothing frightening about that number.

Nothing yet has been done in a systematic manner by FINA to clean up our sport. I think this means we have a long way to go before we are clean. Some of the questions you probably have in your mind is if that is true, how come we had a cleaner Games? Three members of this panel do know what was done to improve the situation, but it will be many years before the story can safely be told of what the coaches of the world were able to do to improve the situation. Revealing that now could endanger some individuals, so we cannot do so, for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say, it is not reproducible and that leaves us with some terrible quandaries for the future.

Hoberman: John Leonard was speaking of the drug situation in swimming in particular. In fact, it is impossible to know how clean an Olympiad is. You have to do it event by event. In Track and Field, you can follow performance levels up and down through the years, you can look at what a convicted steroid user like Randy Barnes in throwing, around 71 feet, and this is five years after his world record of 75 feet, when one can assume he was using Steroids. But the so-called dark figures, on what levels of drug use we have, these are indeed dark figures. Don’t forget also that there were important substances that were not being tested for. Erythropoietin, the producer of extra red-blood cells, was not being tested for. Testosterone cannot be tested for reliably, especially when the athletes are using epitestosterone to keep the ratio of the two at a relatively normal 1:1. Insulin growth factor #1 was one of the really hot drugs this year. It also was not being tested for. Don’t forget that the quality of those multi-million dollar mass spectrometers that NBC was showing us on television are not reliable if the people who are operating them are not reliable in the sense that they are not going to report out the true findings.

It is now widely known in high performance sports circles that Dr. Don Catlin, found in his IOC accredited lab in 1984, a number of positive tests that is significantly larger than the number reported out by the IOC. The number is larger by at least nine. He reports this later in the professional literature, and it also is never reported out. This is part of the problem.

Andrew Jennings: Yes, of course, it’s so important, isn’t it, that if they are not testing for one of the drugs being used. One other point, is that it has always been my understanding that in the physical and social sciences, and whatever else scientists study, that scientists publish their results and their work, for peer group review, and others look at that work, and their work is maintained, or condemned by their own academic community. Quite rightly. Why will the IOC not publish the raw data from the tests at the Games? They don’t have to identify the athlete, just give him a number, and let the wider scientific community who can also understand the procedures, give their opinion to validate or condemn the science being carried on behind closed doors in these IOC controlled laboratories. I think the reason is that the people who run the IOC are corrupt, and aren’t going to give out any information. Scientists have said to me, “If they aren’t going to publish the raw data, then you cannot believe what they are saying. You can’t because you can’t test it.”

Hoberman: Don’t forget that there is a politics of IOC accredited drug-testing labs. This might account for the behavior of Dr. Catlin between 1984 and 1987. There are only 22 or 23 IOC accredited labs in the world. If he makes trouble for the IOC, the flow of samples to his lab is cut off, and he is out of business. This is part of the web that the IOC spins from the center, to make complicit, all the elements of the system.

Jennings: If I could just answer that. Of course being on the IOC medical committee is a great social and travel bonus for some its members. If you are a scientist in any city of the world, you don’t travel a great deal unless someone else is paying for it. If you are on the IOC medical committee, and you don’t upset the people who run the IOC, then you are going to be doing a lot of 1st class travel around the world, particularly if you don’t live in Europe and like it there, you will be making a lot of trips to places like Lausanne, Rome, Paris. This is a corrupt form of bribery. The IOC should not be able to control the appointments to the medical committee. I feel that some of the members have been corrupted by this opportunity to get around the world and talk about science. You have to look at the ability of some of the people there. John and I, we’ve had the experience of being on an Australian television show with Ken Fitch, member of the IOC Medical Committee, and the only thing he seemed to bring to the party was this very important point which was that he was the third person in the world who knew that Ben Johnson tested positive. I require a little bit more from our scientists.

Welsh: Panel, we seem to be well into the area of testing. I have several testing questions to ask of you, and I would like to begin with one that will offer us a bit of background. First, where does the drug list come from? How does a drug get on the list, off the list? How often is the drug list updated? Is there only one list? Is it sport specific? If not, should it be sport specific.

Hoberman: To the best of my knowledge, the IOC banned drug list now includes something like three thousand substances. It is a list that evolves in response to the challenges thrown up to it by the athletes, who are widely credited with great ingenuity when it comes to finding the drugs, procuring those drugs, and hiding drug use. It is impossible to say with social scientific certainty, how many people use drugs, how successful they are, how many are caught, and how many are not. In a way, there are two important facts here. First, 3,000 substances is an enormous list, and it can only grow larger unless we said, “Look, we have all these ephedrine cases, we consider steroids to be more serious, maybe we should just remove ephedrine from the lists.”

The second point is that there are other problems. What do you do when clenbuterol comes on the scene? In fact, clenbuterol is a controversy. Some claimed it was anabolic, some claimed otherwise. One substance created a political mess when it came on the market back in 1992. It has a multi-million dollar successful career in the veterinary business building beef for the market. So the list is a living thing.

Part of the helplessness of the federations and the IOC is that there are outlaw chemists out there operating on behalf of the athletes that seem to have a limitless appetite for finding the chemical edge.

Welsh: One quick follow-up, did I hear you say that the list is always in RESPONSE to a drug that is being used? It’s never ahead of that?

Hoberman: No, I didn’t say that, or certainly didn’t mean that. The list started back around 1968 with the anabolic steroids, and has grown like topsy ever since. That is my understanding.

Welsh: Panel, may I ask you to follow up on the question of whether the list can be sports specific? Or in your mind, is it a good idea for the list to be sports specific?

Hoberman: In my opinion, no. The anabolic steroid that permits harder training over a longer period of time that is going to cross over into any number of sports. It will not be useful in some sports. Beta – blockers will be good for shooters, but not good for other sports. Stimulants are good for the sprinter, but do no good at all for the shooter. So yes, you have specific drugs that are good for specific sports, but that does not seem a reason for putting some on and some off, just because they help some sports and not others.

Welsh: Let me go on to the question of money. Cecil, I know you have expressed some concern about the cost of the testing, the cost of the spectrometers, and even if it would be counter-productive to have the testing available in the period between the Olympiads. So given the complexity of that, should we be concerned about the accuracy of the machines doing the testing, and if I can expand that more, how can we verify the accuracy of the testers themselves doing the lab work? What happens to the A and B samples etc, etc. At what point do we cross the lines of athlete’s rights, and things of that sort.

Colwin: That’s a multi-question effort, and I shall begin from the end. The question of athlete’s rights is a very important one, and I have discussed the legal aspects of this. To condemn someone outright for cheating in the normal course of events is implying a type of behavior without the right to defend oneself is not part of our culture. Even the most heinous criminal has the right to defend oneself. Now to what extent has the athlete the right to say, “Well, I didn’t do it, or I was sabotaged, or whatever”. Now what happens when you join a club? Say you’re a member of a social club and you break its laws, you can be blackballed and expelled from that club. Does a national swimming body constitute a club? When you or your parents sign you on, do you not sign something that says you will abide by the laws of that club? If you disobey them on those grounds, are you given a right to defend yourself? It comes down to strict liability.

Now how can you not have strict liability when the drugs are found within your body? It comes up over and over again.

I am not speaking of any particular country, but you may find that we who are against drugs will lose a lot of cases, until such time as we might get a ruling that this is offensive to the sport and dangerous to youngsters. It is very much possible that this may come. It is very much like the anti-tobacco lobby. There was a long time, when the tobacco lobby was getting away with murder, and now they are starting to lose.

Coming back to the beginning of the questions, there were three high resolution mass spectrometers as testing machines, each valued at around 6 million US dollars, rented by the IOC from their manufacturers. They arrived just a month or so before the Games. There were those who made the comment that the advent of these machines was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Nevertheless, we should attribute to their makers, nothing other than the most pure motives, they are considered a marked advance in the detection of steroids. As John said, they are unable to find all the drugs being used. So, do we need more mass spectrometers? Are they going to be rented during the forthcoming Olympiad? Will they be available for major regional championships such as the European Championships? The Asian Championships? This will be a key meet. If we don’t, won’t this encourage previous offenders to try their tricks again? Due to the expense, it is highly likely that the spectrometers will not be available from FINA during testing in training, championships, etc. Will this act as an inducement for large scale drug testing to reappear? It is not unreasonable to expect that sponsors will be called upon to make more machines available.

Apropos of the discussion on the drug lists. I understand that there is even a thing like Sudafed is on the list. Who decides what is on the list? Are the names all listed as they are in the Physician’s Desk Reference? Apparently Bromantan, a stimulant, but also used to hide other drugs, was not on the list, but was going to be considered a “related substance”. According to Christine Ayot, of Montreal, an expert on this drug, it was everywhere, everywhere at the winter Olympics, but no mention was made of it. Are many drugs being marketed by the media, including the internet? I picked up one on the internet recently in Toronto. What about athlete involvement in the sales of drugs? Is this a sporting offense? Is there a need for the instantaneous reporting of drug testing via the internet? John in his book Mortal Engines, mentions a case where the B sample was spilt, and there was less in one bottle than in the other. No comment was made about it. So, do we know anything about the anomalies in the testing, when there is accidental or intentional mishandling of the samples? There are many examples of samples going down the sink. How can we acquire knowledge of new designer drugs? We need to keep ahead of the game. I just mentioned the marketing on the internet. How are they made available to athletes.

Leonard: Let’s go back to the money issue a minute. According to FINA, in their budget and accounting just published this summer at the FINA Congress at our insistence, in the last year, FINA spent 294,000 Swiss francs on drug testing. Now, for those of you who don’t traffic regularly in Swiss francs, that is about $225,000. That’s what they spent on the 594 tests that they supposedly did. For those of you not familiar with the cost of drug testing, that is about $350 a test. That is about twice what the going rate is for a test anywhere in the world. So there are some discrepancies in FINA’s numbers on what they are spending versus how many tests they are reporting. Another interesting contrast is the fact that the drug testing is the second lowest item on their budget. The lowest item on their budget is support to the national swimming bodies. Interestingly enough, the highest item on their budget, at 3 million, 800 and some odd thousand Swiss Francs, is Bureau and Committee expense. That means first class airfares, five star hotels, and god knows what kind of per deims. So you know where drug testing lies on their scale of priorities. The other item I want to touch on is the critical issue of the independence of the testing agency.

I do want to tell you a story, because I don’t think this has been told anywhere before. At the European Championships in 1995, I was approached by a member of the FINA Medical Committee who is a European. He told me that after the Asian tests that were carried out where seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for steroids, there were nineteen tests done. The “A” samples of all nineteen were positive. At that point, the Chinese athletes and representatives were brought in for the testing of the “B” samples (which is proper). The first seven “B” samples came up positive. At that point a FINA official walked over took the remaining “B” samples, poured them down the drain and said, “That’s enough”. So we may very well may not have had seven positives, we may well have had the entire Chinese team positive for steroids at the Asian Games. That was from a person who said he was standing in the room. So when we talk about who is doing the testing, it is critical. I don’t trust the USOC to trust American athletes. They covered it up in 1984 in track, they can cover it up today. I don’t trust United States Swimming to test USA athletes. It’s nice. We have to do it, to protect ourselves and try to keep it clean, but why should anyone trust a body with so much at stake in having the tests come back clean? Why would the rest of the world believe us? If the Irish Olympic Committee tests Irish athletes, why would we believe them? What we need to clean this up is a truly independent agency that does not depend on the bodies with significant interests in this, for the dollars, the personnel, or anything else. I think the end product of this is that we need a truly independent body to clean this up.

Welsh: Forbes Carlile, let me call on you for a minute. You have proposed a new idea for Sydney, a drug envoy program. Please tell us about that.

Carlile: The proposal for Sydney, is a political suggestion. The party that was out of power thought that they would look good if they were hard after the idea of having Sydney be drug-free. I was hot on their tails to do this telling them they “have a duty,” etc. etc.. They took it up, and said, yes, “We’ll have drug-envoy.” They did come to power, the liberal party, and still nothing is being done. I spoke to the minister and some advisors, and the only answer I got was, “Well, we haven’t really decided on this yet”. The idea was not so much to go to organizations, as to go to governments, to prick their consciences about it. Such a person could have status to bring attention to the problem. I think they could do some good.

Now we spoke about the mass spectrometer. Now you’d think that Australia would feel some duty to do something about it. Well it is going to cost about Australian $750,000, and they haven’t made up their mind about that yet. Of course, there is one thing about the machine: it is not near as effective as claims made for it. With a thing like DHT, which disperses quickly from the body, what use is the spectrometer in catching that? It’s not going to pick it up. It is not the be-all and end-all of our troubles.

I see all this, and what we are asking for, is a mass amount of unannounced testing, and not telling people what you can test for, if they don’t know what will turn up next — it’s a very good deterrent. If we do anything, we must hugely increase the number of out of competition testing. It will cost a huge amount of money, and finance has been talked about, and the fact is that the IOC has a tremendous hold on the whole of sport, and attempting to get more all the time.

This list was brought out by an Olympic apologist, John Lucas.

Leonard: Forbes, explain what you mean by an apologist.

Carlile: He is a propagandist, an officially sponsored Olympic lecturer, who offers his services free of charge to American campuses. He is a professor at Penn State. He spreads the gospel of the IOC, paid by them. He was a guest of honor in Barcelona. He just bought into the whole game entirely. He is flown all over the world to give the official side of the IOC story.

Now these figures tell a lot. First, it is 3.5 BILLION dollars, dissipated in the 1992-96 quadrennium. It must be much more now. Nearly a billion dollars went to the 190 national Olympic Committees. So, you see, when we appeal to our national Olympic Committee for something the IOC has done, or is doing, well, none of these people are about to bite the hand that feeds them. The summer and winter sport federations, there are 44 of them, nearly half a Billion dollars. So when we had trouble in Australia even, getting our Federation to move on the drug issue, there was a big opposition because they were worried how is it going to affect their position with FINA and the IOC?

Leonard: For those who may not be aware, FINA, the international federation, was continuously broke throughout its history, until 1989 when the IOC started doling out money in large chunks, to the international federations. All of a sudden FINA, which didn’t have the money to meet even once per year, suddenly started putting three hundred people on “commissions” and flying them all over the world first class. You have to follow the money trail in this from the IOC to the international federations of which FINA is one, and then FINA uses this money to buy the votes of the third world countries and many others, with their fine flying and even finer accommodations and per deims, to keep the ruling group in power.

Carlile: The point being made is that all these people are beholden to the IOC, which is rapidly getting a greater and greater grasp on all sports. Their hold now is tightening on the federations, so they are part of the Olympic Family. They can’t move without threat to their money being cut off — a half a billion to the Olympic Museum, stamp collections, etc. There are fourteen IOC sub-committees, and they all have big budgets. Even Lucas mentions the huge budgets of those sub-committees. These are massive committees with 3 or 4 international trips a year directly financed by the IOC and FINA. You’ll notice in that budget, nothing has to do with looking for drugs.

Australia has a big part to play, and I am just hoping that they will. The IOC medical committee does have a minefield to deal with. I don’t think they have done much with their new drug list. The attention to what drugs are still on those that should be off, and what new ones should be on, just isn’t getting the attention that it should. That’s why Samantha Riley got off. It was a stimulant right next to a headache pill. Those drug lists are a minefield. I don’t know how a bunch of tapped-out royals who are on those commissions, with a leader like Prince de Merode, who is not a physician, and anyone who saw him on television in the recent program would have been thoroughly disillusioned at what the IOC Medical Committee is going to do for us.

Welsh: Panel, I’d like to move the discussion into a more philosophical plane, a more idealistic plane, and then a more practical plane. With all our suspicions of where money has come from, where should it come from? What role should governments play? Drug Companies? National governing bodies? Is it possible for big money, big governments, and big purity to all exist at the same time?

Leonard: I do have a plan, it was developed with the assistance of a member of our audience, Dale Neuberger, Vice-president of United States Swimming. We talked about this question, and what we are going to attempt to do is this month is visit with a number of the largest drug manufacturers in the world. Our proposition is going to be this: “Will you contribute money and the expertise of your company to form a consortium of drug companies to clean up Olympic Sports? Forming an independent agency, this could test Olympic Sports athletes. Two, can you use the sophistication of your labs to get ahead of the bad guys?” The biggest problem we have right now is that most of the money is on the side of the bad guys. There is more money and more profit to be made with moving a molecule from one side of a compound to another, and thus making the compound undetectable by current tests, than in catching those who cheat. The people who have the necessary expertise, and the people with huge amounts of money, are the drug companies. The question then becomes, what is the incentive to the drug companies to do this? My answer is that this is the hugest PR bonus that they can ever do. By cleaning up world sport, they can put themselves in a good light with the public. The second point is that by doing that, they can also promote the legitimate use of many of these same products, and ensure that these are the only uses of their legitimate products. So I believe we have to get as independent as we possibly can, and going to the drug companies is one of the ways to do it. Thanks to Dale and some of his contacts, and some European friends, we expect to be making these visits in the next few months.

John Hoberman: I was fascinated and impressed when John told me about this suggestion for gathering expertise and funds to wage the anti-doping campaign. I would like to spend a few minutes on conceptualizing and contextualizing such an initiative.

There is empirical evidence that big drug companies are afraid of having their products stigmatized by association with cheating athletes. One thing one has to understand about high performance sports is that a number of drugs are what I call bi-modal drugs. This means that they have legitimate medical uses in the medical sphere, just as they have illegitimate uses for cheating in sports. Certainly the steroids belong to this category. Certainly erythropoietin, which has done a lot of good for a lot of hospital patients is in this category, as does human growth hormone, as does clenbuterol.

A number of years ago I was talking to the Vice-President of one of the drug companies who produce testosterone patches for hypo-gonadal males, men who do not produce enough testosterone on their own. It can be supplemented by putting on one of these patches. I said, “I am doing a magazine article on what’s happening to testosterone in modern sport”, and the one remark of his that rings in my ears to this day is, “Please, please do not mention our product in an unfavorable light.” A few weeks ago I was at a doping conference in Alabama, and the same scenario was described by Dr. Manfred Steinbach, former surgeon general of Germany, who spent several years near the top of the German track and field federation. He said that he had talked to German drug company executives, and they had said the same thing, they were afraid of being stigmatized. Their products had large and lucrative markets in the legitimate medical field and they were afraid of being stigmatized by doping athletes. That is a scenario that played itself out again the 1972, when German sprinter Katherine Krabbe and several of her teammates were caught out using clenbuterol. She was shocked and amazed to find herself being defended against the German Track and Field Federation (who considered it a steroid) by a consortium of drug companies, sports physiologists and sports physicians. There has been a pro-steroid lobby by the way by influential sports physicians in the world for at least the last 20 some years.

Another person who came out against Clenbuterol being a steroid type banned drug was professor Arnold Beckett of the IOC Medical Committee, who turns out to be the co-owner of a drug company in England. So in other words, as soon as Katrine Krabbe got in trouble for using a drug for which there is a large and valuable market, clenbuterol, it hit the fan, and the drug companies mounted a campaign in defense of the accused athlete that amazed even her.

The same thing happened when the Pharmatalia Corporation of Germany woke up one morning and found that one of its products was being used by athletes. They mounted a campaign to clean up the image of this drug. A third example, in 1982 Ciba-Geigy stopped producing dianabol, one of the early and very popular anabolic-androgenic steroids, so as not to appear to be promoting doping.

Now my favorite story, testosterone. Testosterone is living a life as we speak, as a drug of wide application, outside the stadium. It is being sold as the patch to a market of approximately 1/4 of a million hypogonadic males in this society alone. The world-wide potential market is on the order of 4 million, depending on how you define who needs hormone therapy. The same problem in the tens of millions takes place the female side of the market. Is hormone replacement therapy really necessary? If the testosterone market is growing, the second factor is pushing in the direction of the “gentrification of testosterone” which is the testosterone based male contraceptive. This is on the order of five to ten years away. I have seen indications that this is coming on line. I invite you to imagine the situation of the anti-doping campaign, specifically with regard to steroids, which after all are just modified version of testosterone, if so-called low safe doses of testosterone are ok’d by the medical profession as safe for millions of millions of men, who are using it for purposes that have nothing to do with athletics. Will the ground shift under our feet? Will we be talking about steroids in a negative light at a time when testosterone is coming into mass marketing in two ways — male contraceptive and testosterone doses for the aging male. Our cultural trends are pushing us towards the medical interaction with old age in general. In summary, courting large drug companies is a double edged sword. If you can in effect frighten them into believing that it is in their interest to be on the right side when it comes to determining the status of androgen problems inside and outside the stadium, then you can get there. Don’t forget that some of these companies can on one hand be helping out good men like John Leonard, and on the other hand dispensing testosterone products to large populations of men who are taking the stuff for reasons divorced from athletics. So there is a potential conflict of interest there that anti-doping campaigners are going to have to keep track of.

Welsh: Let me ask a very practical question. Who decides what the testing procedure will be? Who has the power to do that? If John were to be successful in his adventure, and talked the drug companies into doing it, who has the power to say, Ok, we’ll use it in Sydney?

Leonard: We’d take it to FINA, and it would be very interesting to see how they would handle it. With all the bluster that FINA and the IOC have put forward about being on the “leading edge of fighting doping” it would be extremely interesting to see how they would turn down such an opportunity.

FINA would decide for the World Championships in Perth, and the IOC for the Olympic Games in Sydney. If for some reason they were to turn down an independent agency, it would be quite clear that they have no real interest in discovering how much doping is going on, and as Andrew suggested the numbers from Barcelona may well have been 1000 of 10,000 athletes.

Colwin: We tend to attribute to FINA and the IOC nothing but the most noble of motives. Don’t fool yourselves, they don’t care what the public thinks. They will come up with some objection. On the issue of independent testing, L’Equipe the prominent French sporting magazine, says that Prince Alexander de Merode is “highly unqualified” to be in charge of the IOC Medical Committee. It should be a double prong — not just if we have drug companies interested in sponsoring, but also to say, “here it is, don’t refuse it.” Most notable were his evasive answers on Prime Time Live, shortly before the Olympics, when he was questioned on the drug problem by Sam Donaldson. He just did not care. There is a need for an independent collecting and testing system in sport. John has come up with a very good idea. The costs are enormous.

Will a new international swimming organization attract anywhere near the necessary sponsorship versus the broad spectacle of the Olympic Games as a whole? Can cooperation with other sports in fighting doping provide more information and political strength. In the end run, you can come up with the most magnificent of plans, but if the will and the purpose is not there, the job will not be done, and the time comes for a new organization.

And then we should ask ourselves, when we see bromantan coming from Russia, to what extent is doping still a part of the culture of the post-Communist countries? And then I would like to know, where have all the former East German Coaches and Scientists gone?

Andrew Jennings: I would like to support what Cecil has been saying. Can we underline it, and take totally aboard the idea that this cunning aging Belgian nobleman who knows no more about science than this glass of water, has been in charge of the IOC Doping Commission since 1978? He doesn’t know anything about doping. We have to remember that when we hear the IOC pontificating about the moral stand it takes on doping. Let’s look at the processes when a sample comes into the IOC lab. Let’s put the best face on it we can and say that the honest scientists do their work properly in the lab, and on occasion, sadly, they find positive tests. What happens to it now? Does anyone know what happens next? It goes to the IOC Medical Commission, the suits as I call them, the Prince de Merode, who then takes it to the IOC Executive — that group of about a dozen, dominated by the old arm salute man himself, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Behind closed doors, they decide whether to announce those tests.

Leonard: Sorry to interrupt, but in Atlanta, and in LA, I am not sure about Barcelona, but de Merode by himself, had the list matching numbers with samples. So if there was a positive test, who it was attributed to, if it went to the IOC Executive at all, was dependent on de Merode. Incredible.

Jennings: If you have read Chapter 19 in my book, back in 1976 in Montreal, there were eleven declared positive doping tests. Well, we can’t ever trust the figures, but let’s be very generous, and say that maybe that was the case. Many of you here know better than I that there was far more doping than that in swimming alone in Montreal. Now 1980 in the USSR, four years later, how many positive tests were there in Moscow? Can anyone tell me? Go on, someone tell me. None. None? Are you serious? Do you believe that? No, you don’t believe that. You can’t believe it that suddenly between 1976 and 1980, it all stopped. Guess what, all athletes and coaches who were doing it, decided, well, I think we’ll stop doing it now. No positive tests in Moscow!

I have found out from honest journalists researching on my behalf in Moscow, and I believe this to be true, that a KGB Colonel, whose story checked out, that he was the guy in charge of the lab in Moscow. There were no positive tests from the lab. All the positives were removed. The Soviets were always a big supporter of Juan Samaranch. Another time we’ll go into why the Soviets would sponsor an old Nazi. The world was suckered in 1980. You know, without me, that 1980 was not clean. I blame Rueters and the other news agencies, who suck up to the IOC in the most loathsome way, for not telling the story. Viv Simpson, my co-author of Lords of the Rings, is a talented TV producer, and after Moscow, he put his researchers to work, and surprise, as soon as they went to the scientists, and asked, is there anything I don’t know about what happened in the LA and Moscow Games, they heard, “there is a lot you don’t know actually, like the nine positive tests we didn’t declare.” What? Nine positive tests not declared? By the moral Olympic movement?

Apparently the order came down from Samaranch to close the lab because too many positive tests were coming down. This is the era of megabucks, and Peter Uberoth, and the Games would be damaged if too many positive tests came forward. They buried nine tests. The scientists didn’t tell us. Merode didn’t tell us. Only when the BBC approached de Merode in 1994, did he say, “Ah yes, of course, I only forgot.” How did AP and Rueter report this around the world? Was it shock revelations? No, they only said, “The IOC said last night there was no cause for concern, it’s all over.” That, to me, is one of the big Olympic scandals. We all know that there were also positives buried in Seoul.

Hoberman: On this point, here is what you can find out if you actually read a newspaper that covers doping, which American papers do not. Drug testing in Atlanta was run by the Smith Cline, Beachem Company. They paid two million dollars for the privilege of doing this, in order to get their foot in the door of the drug testing business. Dr. Barry Sample ran the lab with Don Catlin from the LA lab. I will translate from the German paper, Thomas Kistner did the interview with Dr. Steven Horning, who assisted in the lab. Kister says to him, “You know, twelve years ago in LA, something unfortunate happened to the IOC, nine positive tests just disappeared.” Dr. Horning says, “All I know is that Don Catlin, who ran that lab, and I worked there, was really surprised and that in 1987 he published a report in a professional journal that reported this. The lab produced a large number of tests that the IOC never reported. I sure hope nothing like this happens again.” At this point, the journalist says “What a shame that this story has only been reported among scientists. How would you react, Dr. Horning, if there were more doping cases than the IOC publicized?” At which point Dr. Horning says, “I wouldn’t say a thing. It isn’t my business to correct the IOC. I make my findings, and that is it.” “Do you mean,” asks the journalist, “that a scientist has no further responsibility in this regard.” Dr. Horning says, “It is not my responsibility to make any noise, and I hope the others do not as well. It means that sport is no better than any other part of our society.” May, 1996. That was one of the three people in charge of drug testing in Atlanta. You didn’t read it because drug testing isn’t covered in this country.

Welsh: I’d like to turn the discussion to what do the athletes want, what do the coaches want? What do they want done? If this was a war on drugs, is peace possible? If so, what would it look like?

Cecil: We have talked about the IOC not publishing results, and about those who do the testing being on a pretty well-paid thing, and it’s a sort of thing that goes around, comes around. The athletes peace of mind is being affected. Those who train them will tell you that. There is a dark cloud of doping hanging over the sport, and it affects performance. If only for that reason alone, the athletes have a vested interest in making the atmosphere more congenial to good performance. The athletes cannot expect those who have had their time in sport to do all their fighting for them, I know the athletes are exposed, they are vulnerable to being suspended, and disciplined, but there comes a time in life, to take a stand on principle. Sport is part of education for life, and standing up to drugs is part of that education. It is part of sportspersonship to fight fair and fight for fairness.

Leonard: I think there are some differences among the sports. If you watch some of the video tape we have out in the lobby of TV shows over the past several years, you can see a disturbing trend in the track and field athletes, where there is an acceptance of the drug culture. In all countries around the world, track and field athletes are using track and field in a way to improve their financial and life situations. In many cases it may be one of the few opportunities they have to improve their life. Swimming athletes, because of all the socio-economic factors that we have talked about so many times, tend to come from middle and upper class segments of society. What I see the athletes doing in swimming, is that they want clean sport. In China, athletes can dramatically improve their lifestyle by how well they do in swimming. You can go from being a peasant digging rice in the fields, to someone in the absolute upper crust of Chinese economic status, by swimming.

That doesn’t happen in most of the rest of the world. I believe that if we don’t clean up our sport, our middle and upper class athletes will shun the sport and never get involved because there are other things, they can do. They don’t need swimming to improve their lives. Parents won’t put children in a sport they perceive to be dirty. Athletes who have struggled for ten, twelve, fourteen years, to do the absolute best they can, will simply walk away if they think it is impossible to win. I think if we are to have in intact sport, we have to have a clean sport. I think that is what swimmers want. I don’t think that’s necessarily true with the other sports. As Cecil indicated, there is no doubt in my mind that if we are to have clean sport, there will come a time in the next four years where push will have to come to shove, and the athletes will have to say, “FINA, either run a clean sport, or we don’t compete under the banner of FINA.”

Colwin: I believe that in every part of a team structure, a coach must have discussions on this big problem that is facing this sport. Kids not swimming at the top level do not care too much about it until they approach that level. I am amazed at some of the carelessness I see. I was at a big meet overseas, and I saw candy bars, food enhancements, lying there on the pool deck waiting for someone to pick them up and spike them. As I rode back and forth to the Australian Olympic Trials with parents, I was appalled at the lack of information these people have on the topic, and how to protect their swimmers. I don’t mean to criticize Australia, because they do a lot, newsletters, hotlines, etc., but still I was amazed at the abysmal ignorance of parents I came in contact with. They didn’t know the elementary things like protecting the drinking water and little precautions to take at meets. It’s terrible it has come to this. The education of the parents is lacking, or the parents are not taking notice — repeat, not taking notice. We should talk to the children at various ages of development. The newspapers will not report it, you’ve heard that.

Question from the Audience: “How is the United States viewed from overseas in the drug issue?

Carlile: I can say something about that. The first response we got from China, and we get it all the time, is, “What are you doing talking about us, what about the United States?” And of course, they are absolutely right. I know that the opinion of our drug agency in Australia, is that the United States has done very, very little. The world is quite sure, that the athletes of the world, especially the Americans, are doped to the eyeballs. You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist, looking at the track athletes coming round the bend, to see what’s going on. The answer is terribly complex, and we have to start in a simple way — tens of millions of dollars to test out of competition, and hope that cuts out a certain amount of it.

Leonard: One of the things Richard Quick pointed out yesterday, and I think I said last year, is that on a numerical basis, the USA is the dirtiest nation on the face of the earth when it comes to drugs. One of the things that is a challenge to people who don’t travel widely to realize is that in the USA, our swimming office is not exactly parked next to the other sports offices. In most European nations, the national swimming office is literally down the hall from the national track office, which is down the hall from cycling or weightlifting. You’re all in the same building and there is a lot of interaction between the sports. In the USA, when was the last time any of you club coaches had any contact with a track coach? The interaction between the sports does not happen in the USA. People sometimes do not understand that swimming in this country is relatively clean. Lots of other American Sports are not. If you see sports offices in Asia or Europe right together, it is hard to sit in those nations, and believe that track in the USA may be filthy with drugs, but swimming is not. I understand their disbelief.

Colwin: Eighteen years ago, I was in charge of the Canadian system for apprentice coaches, whereby we trained apprentice coaches with master coaches. We worked with people in all sports. Time and time again, we asked, “Are you using drugs with your athletes?” We were thinking about that eighteen years ago.

Another thought comes to my mind. It makes me gag, pardon my vulgarity, to think of the IOC running the Olympics as the largest entertainment business in the world. First, you’re not elected, you are invited onto it. Then you get all your performers almost free, you get all your stagehands free, and then what you do with your money or your balance sheets is totally up to you. It is a darn disgrace that people like this should be in charge of the welfare of our youth. They are seemingly oblivious to the duty of care that they have to take care of our youth. I do not think they are exercising it. I think part of our push should be towards having Olympic Officials elected and not invited, should the Olympics continue.

Hoberman: The whole doping control question has a human dimension and a technological dimension that is even more complicated than the mass spectrometers. It is dangerous to talk about doping for too long in the sense that one can get very depressed about the near term and the long term future. The complications are very daunting, especially when you look hard at the various special interest groups in what we call high performance sport. I have come to the conclusion that over the past decade, that it is senseless to try to understand the world of Olympic Sport and doping in particular, unless you analyze the various interests groups, how they scratch each other’s backs, how they sometimes compete, how their interests overlap and coincide or diverge. I am talking about the officials, the coaches and trainers, the athletes, and the sports physicians who are not always wearing the pure white coat, but may be looking forward to their next five star hotel room. The IOC has a genius for co-opting people onto commissions. The IOC Press Commission is a joke. Any journalist with a conscience could not sign on for that, but it has been operating fine for years.

I am afraid the same is true of the Medical Commission. Not just the IOC, but the IAAF Medical Commission as well. I can show you minutes of a meeting of that organization of decade ago where you had a dirty East German doctor, a dirty West German doctor, and a clean Austrian doctor, sitting around a table formulating IAAF drug policy for the coming year. After years of absorbing stories of that nature, I would argue that John Leonard is the opposite of naive, because John Leonard almost alone among Federation executives has realized is that the time for business as usual is over.

Leonard: Prior to the tenure of Dr. Allan Richardson as Chairman of the FINA Medical Committee, the FINA had as its Chairman of that Committee, Dr. Lothar Kipke, who was one of the architects of the East German Doping program, and one of the authors, we found out in 1989, of State Document 419, which established doping in all sports in East Germany As state policy. This is who FINA had leading it’s Medical Committee for eleven years.

I believe that many of the people on the present Medical Committee are extremely honest and forthright. Allan was disciplined and censured by FINA in the Hiroshima-Asian Games incident, because he let leak to the press that those first seven tests were positive. He was immediately suspended by FINA for a period that lasted about seven months. Now the story that I told you was related to me almost five months later by a gentleman who I stood with in a field near the pool and patted me down to make sure I was not wearing a wire. He was so scared of the consequences of FINA knowing that he was spilling the beans. So these guys have a very tough line to tow. They want to be there, to clean up the sport, but if they say too much out line, they’ll be on the outside looking in, and perhaps next we’ll see a Chinese doctor at the head of the FINA Medical Committee. At some point, if the scientific process continues to be corrupted by FINA and the IOC, those scientific gentlemen may consider simply walking away. The question is, can’t the IOC and FINA always find another corrupt person to replace them? I suspect they can.

Jennings: I would like to comment on the question of a while ago about how foreigners look at Americans in this context. I feel very vigorously about the IOC, as I have spent years researching them, and my comments are all documentary based. I spent 12 weeks in Colorado Springs in the last quarter of 1994. I wasn’t there to investigate the USOC but to gather materials and do some library work at the University of Colorado. I haven’t done thorough research, but I found the moral atmosphere around the USOC distasteful and worrying, and an atmosphere of fear where decent people did not want to talk about what went on there. They feared for their jobs. They have a morally corrupt media operation, and they have morally corrupt people like Bob Helmick leading it. You read the report on Harvey Schiller didn’t you? I didn’t write that, a former US Attorney General wrote the report on Schiller the same time he wrote one on Helmick. Helmick went. Schiller now has an even higher paying job at CNN running sports. You really should pull those reports out and read the whole thing. There is something unseemly about it. They have some very good people working there in the business of sport. I think you have to do something about your own Olympic house. That’s a foreigner’s view of the US Olympic movement.

Hoberman: And at the time Harvey Schiller was running the USOC in Colorado Springs, he was pulling down $425,000 a year.

Peter Daland: You have given us a report that appears to be very gloomy, and you people appear to be gloomy about it. You have given us the truth, and I have two questions. One, is there any hope, and two, is there any other sport that is taking an active and dynamic role about drugs in their sport.

Leonard: I will tackle the first one Peter, because I am not certain about the second. The time is going to come in a disturbingly short period of time — and all the gloomy things are true, and FINA is as intransigent as they have been to date because they are owned by the IOC — where coaches all over the world are going to have to stand together and say, “We are not playing under a FINA banner.” And then we are going to have to form another organization to run world swimming. Because I cannot find, and I doubt anyone can find, a historical example of a ruling class, privileged, powered, and full of prestige, ever willingly gave up power to people who said, “We’re going to run things right.” I will let someone else tackle the second question.

Hoberman: There is hope. The initiative coming out of this meeting is reason to hope, and I also think that the existing structures are so corrupt that they cannot last. Is there good work being done elsewhere in the world? To my knowledge the most meaningful example of such good work is the President of the German track and field federation, Dr. Helmut Deigle, a sports sociologist from Hamburg, who took over the Federation in 1993. He is an anti-doping crusader, he is an idealist who has had over the past three years of trying to square the circle, trying to run a clean program in a society that is absolutely sports mad, where there is government pressure to produce gold medals no matter what; he is in the lion’s den, he is doing it as well as anyone can do it in the insane world of elite sport. That would be my nomination for the longest running heroic act in elite sport, so far as principled leadership is concerned.

Jennings: Very swiftly, I have spent the past seven years digging out all sorts of depressing, nasty, horrible, dirty facts about the people who have taken over our world sport. This week has been the best news I have seen in a very long time. John Hoberman is right, we all know historical cycles come and go with regularity, and the Samaranch administration is so corrupt, that it is turning your sport, and my sport into some kind of appalling soap opera. The stench is now so great, I think it smells very sweet here in San Diego. I think you are doing the right things, so do it please, get on with it, do it for all of us.

Welsh: Thank you all for coming, and our great thanks to our panel

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news