Some law enforcement officials, judges and legislators are facing up to the dangers of widespread use of anabolic steroids by athletes. Early this year the California Assembly passed the Steroid Education Act, which, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, will provide an educational program for students in junior and senior high schools focusing on the negative aspects of performance-enhancing drugs. The legislation is the first of its kind in the nation.
Also in California, four simultaneous raids on Jan. 9 were directed at what police and other sources say was the largest steroid distribution network in the country. Three of the raids took place at the Orange County home, office and storage facility of 36-year-old Jeff Feliciano, who has been a strength consultant to pro and amateur athletes. The fourth hit the Santa Clara storefront office of Steven A. Coons, a weight trainer described by sources close to the case as an associate of Feliciano's. Police said the raids yielded two truckloads of steroids, drug paraphernalia and codeine.
Feliciano was charged with possession of codeine without a prescription and was released on $25,000 bond. Fullerton (Calif.) police captain Don Bankhead said investigators were sifting through a "tremendous amount" of seized information and that steroid-related charges in the case were under consideration. Court papers filed in the case quote an unnamed informant as telling police that Feliciano had supplied steroids to football players and a coach at Fullerton Junior College. Gene Thirolf, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer involved in the Coons case, said evidence is being presented to a grand jury. Contacted by SI's Armen Keteyian, Feliciano and Coons declined to comment.
April 21, 1986
In another recent case, a circuit court judge in Prince Georges (Md.) County ruled that a defendant was not criminally responsible for a spree of housebreakings because he had been "suffering from an organic personality syndrome caused by toxic levels of anabolics taken to enhance his ability to win...bodybuilding contests." Michael David Williams, 27, the bodybuilder, admitted to breaking into five Maryland homes last June, stealing jewelry and setting three of the homes on fire. However, his lawyer, in a novel defense, argued that massive daily doses of anabolic steroids had left Williams unable to appreciate the criminality of his acts. Judge Audrey E. Melbourne found Williams guilty on all three counts of arson but accepted the steroid defense and therefore relieved him of criminal responsibility. She ordered him to undergo outpatient psychological examinations.
By contrast with California authorities and Judge Melbourne, much of organized sport remains disinclined to acknowledge the hazards of anabolic steroids. Though the NCAA did finally outlaw steroids at its January convention, none of the major pro leagues has followed suit. Two weeks ago baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth sent a letter to all major-leaguers detailing plans for random testing of some players for cocaine, marijuana and other street drugs, but he made no mention of amphetamines and anabolics. The NHL and NBA have no antisteroid rules. Estimates of steroid use among NFL players run to 30% or more (SI, March 24), yet the league has taken no meaningful action against them.
The leagues profess to be opposed to harmful drugs, but in the case of steroids, they continue to drag their feet.
At the same time that he has ignored steroids, Ueberroth may also have become a mite Pollyannaish about the use of other drugs in his sport. "Drugs are over in baseball," the commissioner intoned last week. "It's flat over." Ueberroth credited the supposed eradication of drugs not only to his own actions but to the will of the players. "It's done because the players want it done," he declared.
Why is it that we are reminded of Vermont Senator George Aiken's famous advice to President Lyndon Johnson when the U.S. seemed hopelessly embroiled in the Vietnam war in 1966? Aiken's advice was simply to "say you won and get out of there." That settles that. So there. It's done.
Ueberroth appears to have taken a leaf out of Aiken's book. Now if only the ballplayers will read it.
NEAREST OCEAN, 620 MILES
It raised some eyebrows three years ago when brothers Bob and Tom Roemer decided to bury the backyard of Bob's insurance office under 90 truckloads of sand. "A lot of my friends said, 'What are you doing?' " recalls Bob.
What the Roemers were doing was establishing the La Jolla Beach Volleyball Club—three acres of ersatz beach surrounded by majestic oaks and evergreens—squarely in the middle of their native Toledo. Hey, what else can a pair of avid players do when the nearest beach is 620 miles away? "It's hard to get a game around here," explains Bob. "We felt there was a void to fill." He hopes La Jolla will change Toledo's image from that of "a place to watch grass grow and let sleeping dogs die."
More than 100 club members have signed up at $50 apiece to play barefoot in the sand from April to October. The Roemers say they'll need to triple their membership to make a profit, but Bob says that they aren't worried: "At least our kids will have a big sandbox to play in."
The throng of 25,000 runners in the London Marathon this Sunday will likely include several draped with broad sashes of violet, green and white, the traditional colors of Britain's suffragette movement. They will run to raise money for the Fawcett Library, a London repository of books and artifacts on the women's movement. They will also run in tribute to 96 suffragettes jailed 80 years ago for protesting the lack of voting rights for British women. The protesters were arrested for such offenses as repeatedly ringing the prime minister's doorbell.
The group of running fund-raisers will include one man. Member of Parliament Dennis Canavan will run in the name of James Keir-Hardy, an MP who supported the suffragettes and helped British women eventually win the right to vote in 1918.
...AND A NEW ONE
Not unlike Canavan, Randy Kuning thinks of himself as a kind of modern-day suffragette, which is why he ran the Lady Equitable 6.2-mile road race in Baltimore last month. Kuning, 33, an engineer from Baltimore, sneaked into the women-only race, finishing 600th among 1,268 runners while being threatened and verbally harassed.
"I felt we were past the days of segregating women in their own sports ghettos," said Kuning afterward. "I didn't do it to play a prank or laugh at women. I wanted to prove, in a perverse way, that women could compete with men."
But race coordinator Jane Allan Bowie denounced Kuning's action as being "counter to the spirit of the race," which she said was "an expression of sisterhood." And Kuning, who says he regularly donates money to women's causes, admitted, "I had my hood over my head and my head down all the way. I guess this will sound sexist, but for 6.2 miles I did nothing but look at women's legs."
A DIG AT DIGGER
During a high-minded colloquium last week at Duke on the state of college sports, a student—could he have been one of that school's notorious wise-guy fans?—rose to address one of the panelists, Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps. Recalling a 75-74 Notre Dame loss at Duke in February during which Phelps became so exercised that he began yelling at Duke players to miss their free throws, the fan congratulated Digger on his "articulate and knowledgeable presentation tonight. We didn't see that side of him when last he visited."
There's no letting up on relief pitcher Terry Forster, whom David Letterman ridiculed as a "fat tub of goo" on TV last summer. No sooner was Forster cut by the Braves this spring than another joke popped up: Have you heard about Forster's music video, Fat Is In? He and it have both just been released.
AND, NOW, SPORT AID
Irish rock star Bob Geldof, the promoter of last year's Live Aid concerts, which raised close to $100 million to fight famine in Africa, was in New York last week to announce a new undertaking, dedicated to the Africa relief effort, Sport Aid. Scheduled for May 17 to May 25, Sport Aid will consist of skating, gymnastics, rugby and other competitions worldwide and will culminate in a global extravaganza called The Race Against Time.
"This'll really be something," promises Geldof. "On the 25th, a runner from Africa will start at the south end of Manhattan and head north with a torch. He'll already have done this in seven European cities during the week—running through the streets there. He'll run to the U.N., and then he'll light another torch. We might use lasers; we haven't decided how 20th century to get with this thing. At that moment, people all over the world will start running. It will be wonderful." Some 50 cities, including the possibility of several in the Eastern Bloc, have already agreed to stage simultaneous 10K races, but Geldof stresses that you don't need a finish line to finish The Race Against Time. "It'll be on TV worldwide so everybody will know when to start," he says. "If you just want to run around your neighborhood, fine."
Geldof's organization and UNICEF will split funds generated through ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and the merchandising of RUN THE WORLD T shirts. "Those are your entry forms," says Geldof. But money is the secondary motive. "This is primarily a demonstration of feeling," he says. "It puts intolerable pressure on those sitting in the U.N. the next day to reappraise how they look at that continent." Geldof is referring to the U.N.'s special session on African economic problems, scheduled for May 26.
The Dublin-born Geldof is not a jock. He usually gets his exercise prancing across the stage as lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, and even this activity has been curtailed since he became a world-class fund-raiser. So, he says, "I'm going to just run around the U.N. block once, then in the back door. You must understand, I usually get up at five in the afternoon."
THEY SAID IT
•Mychal Thompson, Portland Trail Blazer forward, on the team's injured center, Sam Bowie: "He's our Manute. Without him, we're minute."
•Mike Krzyzewski, Duke basketball coach, asked what he learned in his years of tutelage under Indiana's Bob Knight: "I learned to hate plaid."