Dateline '98: The Year of Drugs!

Dateline '98: The Year of Drugs!
Posted by FoM on February 02, 1999 at 11:15:26 PT

Before the Salt Lake City bribery scandal started in November, the Olympic movement was reeling from an onslaught of drug controversies. In response, International Olympic Committee leaders scheduled a worldwide drug conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, today through Thursday to consider ways to deal with the escalating problem.
WinterJan. 8: Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan was arrested at a Sydney airport while attempting to smuggle 13 vials of a human growth hormone into the country to take to the world swimming championships in Perth. Her coach, Zhou Zhewen, admitted planting the banned substance and was given a 15-year suspension by FINA, swimming's international governing body.Jan. 14: Four Chinese swimmers were disqualified from the world championships after testing positive for the banned diuretic triamterene, a masking agent, during an out-of-competition test held before the championships. Masking agents can hide the presence of illegal drugs in the system.Feb. 11: Olympic snowboard champion Ross Rebagliati of Whistler, British Columbia, was stripped of his gold medal in Nagano, Japan, after testing positive for marijuana. Claiming he inhaled the drug from second-hand smoke, Rebagliati was reinstated after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The case reveals discrepancies in drug standards between different sports federations.SpringApril 29: FINA charged Michelle Smith, the Irish triple gold medalist, with contaminating a urine sample in an out-of-competition test at her home Jan. 10 by pouring whiskey in it to mask banned drugs. She was banned for four years but has appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.May 8: Swiss cyclist Mauro Gianetti was taken to a hospital during the Tour of Romandy after suffering from gastroenteritis, later revealed to be caused by abuse of the experimental drug perfluorocarbon (PFC).June 7: Swiss triathlete Olivier Bernhard tested positive for the controversial over-the-counter dietary supplement androstenedione, legal in some sports, after winning the Duathlon World Championships and was suspended for a year by the Swiss federation.SummerJuly 8: Belgian masseur Willy Voet of the Swiss Festina cycling team was arrested on the France/Belgium border carrying 400 vials of illegal growth hormones, steroids and masking agents. Voet was heading to Ireland for the start of the 1998 Tour de France, setting off the biggest drug scandal in cycling history.July 8: Swimmer Gary Hall Jr., winner of two gold and two silver medals in the 1996 Olympics, was suspended for six months after testing positive for marijuana. Hall won a ruling from a Phoenix judge in November letting him compete two weeks before the ban ended.July 15: Bruno Roussel, Festina team director, was arrested during the Tour de France, and his admission that drugs were supplied to cyclists under medical supervision led to the disqualification of the Swiss team two days later.July 26: Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, told a Spanish newspaper that the list of banned drugs should be reduced and harmless substances should not be prohibited.July 27: The International Amateur Athletics Federation indefinitely suspended U.S. sprinter Dennis Mitchell and U.S. shot putter Randy Barnes for failing out-of-competition drug tests in April. Mitchell tested positive for an excessive testosterone to epitestosterone ratio and Barnes for androstenedione. Mitchell won an appeal before USA Track and Field, saying his results were skewed because he had sex with his wife and drank six bottles of beer the night before the test.Aug. 1: Samaranch and Primo Nebiola, IAAF president, called for a world conference on drugs, acknowledging the growing problem.Aug. 7: World Cup star Alessandro Del Piero of Italy began legal action against Roma's coach Zdenek Zeman over allegations that he may have used performance-enhancing drugs. Aug. 18: During a trial in Berlin, five former sports officials said they had systematically administered performance-enhancing drugs to East German female swimmers, insisting, though, they were unaware of any damaging side effects.Aug. 19: Spanish Olympic committee officials called for the resignation of Prince Alexandre de Merode, IOC medical commission chief, after he accused the Spanish of being lax on drug use among athletes.FallSept. 8: Slugger Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals hit a record-breaking 62nd home run amid controversy over his use of androstenedione, which is permitted in baseball. Another supplement purchased without prescription, creatine, comes under scrutiny.Sept. 21: Olympic champion Florence Griffith-Joyner died in her sleep at her Southern California home at 38. An autopsy showed the death to be from suffocation after an epileptic seizure and not related to performance-enhancing drugs. But even in death, Griffith-Joyner can't escape the steroid rumors that haunted her after she set the 100- and 200-meter world records and won three gold medals in 1988.Sept. 30: Swiss cyclist Alex Zulle was banned for eight months by his federation for using the illegal hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates the production of red blood cells.Oct. 2: Twenty-four Italian soccer players were reported to have elevated levels of red blood cells after news that the Italian laboratory had tested only a fraction of the 4,000 samples sent there for analysis. The disclosure resulted in the resignation of Mario Pescante, the Italian Olympic Committee president, and the lab lost its IOC accreditation.Oct. 7: Three-time Boston Marathon winner Uta Pippig of Germany was suspended by the German Athletic Federation after testing positive for high levels of testosterone in April.Dec. 23: The International Tennis Federation announced Petr Korda of the Czech Republic tested positive for anabolic steroids at Wimbledon. Korda was forced to forfeit $94,529 in prize money. But an ITA appeals committee didn't sentence the player to a one-year mandatory ban because officials believed he did not knowingly take the drug. 
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