The board of directors of the Fair Grounds racetrack has barred Bob Roesler, executive sports editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, from the press box. The reason, according to track attorney Louis Roussel III, is that Roesler's reporting on the New Orleans track is "not in the best interests of racing."
Roesler's reporting has focused on Dr. Alex Harthill, a Louisville-based veterinarian who is regarded by many as the best in the country but whose career has often been marked by controversy. In 1968 Harthill gained national notoriety when postrace analysis revealed that Dancer's Image won the Kentucky Derby with phenylbutazone, a pain-killer then barred at Churchill Downs, in his system. Although Harthill, the vet for Dancer's Image, denied having done anything wrong, the Kentucky State Racing Commission later fined him $500 for doctoring the feed of Dancer's Image with aspirin. Harthill said he had done so to check the honesty of the colt's trainer. In 1972 Churchill Downs expelled Harthill from the barn where he maintained an office and lab.
Since 1979 Harthill has served as a $50,000-a-year consultant to the president of the Fair Grounds, Joseph P. Dorignac Jr. Ostensibly, Harthill's main job is to use his contacts to persuade leading horsemen to race at the track. In a number of stories, Roesler has indicated that Harthill's role at the Fair Grounds is larger than his job title implies. "At one time," Roesler wrote, "he [Harthill] posted himself at the claiming box to serve as protector of Dorignac's horses. If someone put in a claim for one of Dorignac's horses, Harthill could drop one in, too. That way, there was a chance of protecting the boss' interests." Roesler questioned the propriety of doing this, and he also questioned "why a track-appointed official and commission-approved steward was working out horses for Harthill in the morning and serving in the stewards' stand in the afternoon."
March 23, 1981
Roesler also noted that although Harthill isn't licensed to practice in Louisiana—an attempt to license him by means of a rider to a bill in the state legislature failed after Harthill flunked the state veterinary exam—he still treats horses at the Fair Grounds. Even track attorney Roussel admits this, but the story that got Roesler barred from the press box involved Beau Rit, a horse trained by Roussel, owned by Roussel's wife and treated by Harthill. Roesler wrote in The Times-Picayune that after Beau Rit had won a $100,000 race, the state testing laboratory reported a "positive chemical analysis for the presence of a prohibited drug in the official sample" of the winner. The drug was identified as oxyphenbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug.
Roussel promptly attacked the laboratory's competence "to ensure my good name." The track stewards then held a quick meeting—with no lab representative present—and let Roussel off by means of an astonishing ruling: that the lab "does not have the authority, nor the power, nor is it in their contract with the state to call a test a positive."
For reporting on the Beau Rit case, Roesler got the boot from the press box. Roussel said Roesler's stories were "inadequate, inaccurate and didn't present a true presentation of facts." Says Roesler, "If Roussel can point out and prove any inaccuracies, I'll gladly print a retraction. In the meantime, I'll catch the races from the grandstand."
EAT, DRINK AND BE LIMBER
There's a restaurant in Chicago called Jock's, which shouldn't be at all confused with any eating places you might know called Jacques. Situated in the Lakeshore Centre health club, Jock's serves a variety of so-called health-food dishes (e.g., yogurt and fruit topped with a honey-and-poppyseed dressing) and also, as Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene puts it, "things that actually sound like you might want to eat them," in which category he places Jock's All Star burger. What distinguishes Jock's, though, are the cryptic notations accompanying each menu item. For example, under chicken salad, the menu reads, "R-21, J-21, S-29, T-41."
It seems that the management commissioned nutritionist Jacqueline Marcus to figure out how many minutes of exercise would be needed to burn off the calories in each of the restaurant's dishes. Greene quotes Marcus as explaining, "The idea of the menu at Jock's is one of checks and balances. You can eat whatever you like on the menu—but then we make you conscious of how you can get rid of the calories." The aforementioned entry applies to a typical woman diner and means that after having devoured her chicken salad, she would be well advised to repair to the adjacent exercise facilities to either play racquetball or jog for 21 minutes, swim for 29 minutes or play tennis for 41 minutes.
Anyone for dessert?
The device looks like a haversack-cum-oxygen mask designed by Rube Goldberg, and it is called the PO Aerobic Exerciser. The brainchild of Dr. Melvyn Lane Henkin, an anesthesiologist, and technical designer Jordon Laby, the PO is a high-altitude simulator, and for the past five weeks runners at the University of Oregon, including Alberto Salazar, a past NCAA and AAU cross-country champion and winner of the 1980 New York City Marathon, have been evaluating its worth in increasing cardiovascular efficiency.
Henkin and Laby patented the first model three years ago for patients undergoing rehabilitation after a heart attack, but it soon became evident that the simulator could be used by athletes. Joe Brutto, the vice-president of sales and marketing for InspirAir, the company he, Henkin and Laby have formed in Mission Hills, Calif. to market the device, says, "One of the prime points that came out of a Mexico City Olympics training symposium in 1968 was that the world-class athlete of the future would be one who could train at sea level and high altitude almost simultaneously, the altitude to build endurance, sea level to build strength. Until now this was impossible, but this unit allows an athlete to work out and train at altitude while living at sea level."
By restricting the amount of oxygen that can enter through the mask, the PO can be set to simulate any altitude up to 30,000 feet. The model Salazar is using simulates 7,500 feet, while the Army Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass. is experimenting with models set for 13,000 feet. "It's definitely helping a lot," says Salazar, who now runs 90 of his 115 miles a week with the PO. "It forces me to work a lot harder on my easy runs."
Ordinarily, Salazar's pulse rate is 125 beats a minute after an easy run, but with the PO it rises to about 150. A blood sample analyzed after his fourth week in training with the unit showed an increase in his red-blood-cell count as well as hemoglobin, both important in the transport of oxygen. "The first week or two it's hard to breathe though the mask," he says. "You really have to suck the air in, but it's building those respiratory muscles, and that's another benefit."
Sometimes Salazar goes for a four to eight mile run with the PO just before he does his interval training. "When I take it off there is an amazing difference." he says. "It feels like air is being shoved into my lungs."
During the 1960s, when tennis was a low-profile sport, its greatest player, Rod Laver, used to dispatch his opponents with his trusty wooden Dunlop Maxply. With the game's boom came big money, and Laver was one of the first players to sign a lucrative endorsement contract—but not with Dunlop. He played for five years off and on with a Chemold aluminum model, but he felt his game suffered to such a degree that he returned to his Dunlop Maxply.
Dunlop led the world racket market in Laver's era but never paid the top money, and before Laver retired most of the emerging stars had signed with rival companies. Now Dunlop is back at center court, having lured U.S. Open champion John McEnroe away from Wilson. McEnroe will be paid a reported $3 million to use a Dunlop for the next five years. That equals the reported $600,000 a year Donnay, a Belgian racket company that is now the world leader, pays Bjorn Borg to use its racket. The big loser in the escalating endorsement war thus far is Wilson. Besides losing McEnroe to Dunlop, the company recently lost Tracy Austin to Spalding and Vitas Gerulaitis to Snauwaert.
Ever since Imperial Valley College of Imperial, Calif. was founded in 1922, its teams have been known as the Arabs because of the desert conditions in that part of the state. Now coaches and students want to drop the nickname, and not because irrigation has since turned the valley green. Doubts about the nickname cropped up during the Arab oil embargo in 1973 and became widespread during the Iranian hostage crisis, even though most Iranians are not Arabs. Mike Swearingen, who doubles as the college's baseball coach and assistant football coach, says athletes have found it embarrassing to travel on the school bus, decorated with IVC ARABS and other signs carrying the nickname. "We traveled to Las Vegas to play a football game against the Las Vegas-Nevada junior varsity," Swearingen says. "On the bus there was a sign saying THE ARABS ARE COMING. As I stepped off I heard a guy say, 'What in the hell are Arabs doing here?' When I explained to the guy that we were a college football team and that Arabs was our nickname, he said, 'if that's your idea of a joke, it's in poor taste.' We've had to deal with laughter and jeers. It's hard for our players when they're riding on the bus and see cars going by with everyone inside offering an obscene gesture. It's even tough to recruit. You bring a prospect to a game, and when the players are announced, half the people in the stands are jeering and the other half are laughing and making gestures."
A fortnight ago, the student assembly discussed the matter inconclusively. Final action is up to the board of trustees, which meets next month. New nicknames offered for consideration are Raiders, Desert Raiders and Marauders. Swearingen doesn't care what new nickname is picked so long as Arabs bites the dust. "I'd just like any name without a political connotation." he says.
THE HEISMAN JINX
How many Heisman Trophy winners are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The surprising answer to that trivia question: none. While such Heisman winners as Leon Hart, Alan Ameche, Billy Cannon, Paul Hornung and Mike Garrett went on to have fine NFL careers, all have been denied immortality at Canton.
Of those five players, the strongest case for induction into the Hall probably can be made for Hornung, the Heisman winner in 1956. A running back who played on four champion Green Bay teams in the 1960s, he led the NFL in scoring three times, amassing 176 points in a 12-game season in 1960, a league record that nobody has seriously challenged even in today's 16-game season. "There's no question that Hornung is of Hall of Fame caliber," says a former Packer teammate, Bob Long. "Inside the 10-yard line, he was probably the finest football player I've ever seen." Hornung speculates that his prospects for enshrinement at Canton were damaged by his suspension in 1963 for betting on games. But he adds, "A lot of Packers are in the Hall of Fame, too, and maybe that's also a factor."
He could be right. In the latest election, a 29-member panel of football reporters elevated Placekicker George Blanda, End Morris (Red) Badgro and two of Hornung's Green Bay teammates, Center Jim Ringo and Defensive End Willie Davis, to the Hall of Fame, increasing the number of players, coaches, league officials and owners so honored to 110. Selection of Ringo and Davis means that Vince Lombardi and seven alumni of Green Bay's championship teams of the '60s are now in the Hall. With other former Packers also meriting future consideration, Hornung could find himself crowded out indefinitely. But any notion that Hornung might be the victim of some kind of Heisman jinx will be dissipated in 1985 at the latest. That's when the '63 and '68 Heisman winners will become eligible for their inevitable induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Roger Staubach and O.J. Simpson.