HOUSE OF CARDS
This is an article from the Oct. 17, 1988 issue
The edifice of denials and accusations of malfeasance that has been built around Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter whose Olympic gold medal and world record were taken away from him after he tested positive for steroids, is crumbling. Last Friday, Angella Issajenko, another Canadian Olympic sprinter and a former teammate of Johnson's on the Mazda Optimist Track Club in Toronto, told Jean Sonmor of the Toronto Sun, "I can't wait for the——ing probe [the federal inquiry into the Johnson affair announced last week by Canadian sports minister Jean Charest]. When I'm asked, I'm going to tell the people of Canada what I know, and it's going to be like a nuclear bomb exploding. I'm not going to perjure myself. I'm not going to jail for anybody."
By Sunday, Issajenko apparently had decided on a test explosion well in advance of the government inquiry. She told a reporter from the Toronto Star, "Ben takes steroids. I take steroids. Jamie [Dr. George Mario Astaphan] gives them to us, and Charlie [Francis, coach of the Mazda Optimist club and a sprint coach for the Canadian Olympic team] isn't a scientist, but he knows what's happening."
Issajenko told the Star she had firsthand knowledge that Johnson was receiving steroids from Astaphan from 1984 to '86, but that "Ben was going on his own to Jamie after that." She also said that Astaphan was administering steroids to Johnson when Johnson set the 100-meter world mark at the 1987 World Championships in Rome, although Johnson did not test positive at that meet.
Ever since Sept. 26, when Johnson was stripped of his Olympic gold medal in the 100, he and his associates have stonewalled. Johnson said he never knowingly took steroids. Astaphan reportedly said he treated Johnson with "natural" steroids and ginseng and sarsaparilla roots. Francis said the Olympic test result "defied all logic" and was the result of "deliberate manipulation of the testing process." Issajenko herself accused the Canadian team's physiotherapist of having put steroids in the rubbing compound he used to massage her and Johnson, a charge she retracted 15 minutes after she had made it. "I was trying to help him, but I didn't know what kind of games he's playing," she said to the Star.
Issajenko's change of heart came as sympathy for Johnson grew both in Canada and in Jamaica, where he was born. While Johnson remained quiet, fingers were being pointed at his friends Francis and Astaphan. "When you play games, you live by codes," Issajenko told the Sun. "If you make a mistake or something goes wrong, you accept the consequences. You don't back down and slaughter the people you were in league with from the beginning."
"Ben thought that all this was going to go away," says Ross Earl, the founder of the Mazda Optimist club and its president and chief booster. "The tack his lawyers were taking was to point at Jamie and Charlie. Angella just got tired of that.... A lot will come to light from this, and that's for the better. They have to find a way to either totally control the drug situation, or else totally not control it."
The revelations are having a ripple effect. Now Angela Bailey, a sprinter who has frequently run in Issajenko's shadow, because, she claims, she doesn't use steroids, has added her bit. Bailey told the Star that she has been ostracized by fellow athletes for her stand against drugs and that in 1983, a group of coaches, including Francis, told her she "should shut up and get on with business."
Joe Grosswiler, a 32-year-old beer distributor from Kalispell, Mont., is a four handicapper who has been playing golf since he was 10. On Oct. 1, during a charity tournament at the Buffalo Hill Golf Course in Kalispell, Grosswiler got the second hole in one of his life on the par-3, 128-yard 16th. He hit a wedge shot that just cleared a bunker in front of the green, then rolled up onto the putting surface and into the cup.
Grosswiler's wife, Lisa, a 21 handicapper who took up golf only three years ago, was playing in the women's flight of the same tournament. Things had not been going well for her team. According to Lisa, no one in her foursome could buy a putt. Therefore, when her nine-iron tee shot to the 16th green struck the putting surface, bounced once and disappeared from view in a shallow swale, she naturally enough assumed the worst. It had been that kind of day.
The day took a decided turn for the better when Lisa found the ball in the cup—and, with Joe, joined a truly exclusive golfing fraternity. According to Golf Digest, since 1952 only seven husbands and wives have scored holes in one on the same hole in the same round. When the couple met on the final tee, the following exchange took place:
She: "Guess what, honey. I had a hole in one at 16."
He: "Gee, that's the same hole I aced."
She: "My gosh, what are we going to do about the bar bill?"
David Croudip, a reserve cornerback and special teams captain for the Atlanta Falcons, died early Monday morning in Duluth, Ga., from what the Gwinnett County coroner said was probably "a cocaine-related drug overdose." According to a witness, at 1 a.m. Croudip drank a cocktail that contained cocaine, and soon afterward he began having seizures. His wife, Holly, called an ambulance, but by the time the ambulance reached Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital, Croudip's heart was beating erratically. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at 3:31 a.m. Croudip was 29.
SI's television critic, William Taaffe, says this of ABC's coverage of the baseball playoffs:
The way the network deployed its broadcast teams was a compliment to the National League and an insult to the American. The senior circuit was given the A team—Al Michaels, Tim McCarver and Jim Palmer. The American League got Gary Bender, Reggie Jackson and Joe Morgan. They were definitely the B team, or maybe the Zzzzzzz team.
For their performances Michaels and McCarver could well win Emmys. Michaels, smart, knowledgeable and the possessor of a biting wit, is as delightful a play caller as you'll find. McCarver was both entertaining and, at times, clairvoyant, as when he called the pivotal play of Game 1, a bloop hit to center by the Mets' Gary Carter, a moment before it happened. The Dodger outfield, McCarver observed, was playing much too deep, as if Carter were still the power hitter he was five years ago.
But the crew of Bender, Jackson and Morgan was hopeless. Bender doesn't cover baseball on a regular basis, and it showed here. He and Reggie cranked out a season's worth of platitudes and self-serving clichès, such as how Red Sox manager Joe Morgan didn't want to go down three games to none (oh, really!), and how the great ones have the postseason ability to "turn it up another notch" (way to go, Reg!). Only Morgan seemed to have his mind on the game.
UPON OTHER FIELDS, ON OTHER DAYS...
On Oct. 1, a football Saturday, friends, relatives and former teammates of Don Holleder gathered at West Point for the dedication of the U.S. Military Academy's Holleder Center.
Thirty-three years ago, on the eve of the Army-Navy game, Holleder was on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (right). He had been an All-America end for the Cadets the year before and had seemed certain to be selected again at that position in his final season. But Army's backfield ranks had been thinned by graduation, and coach Red Blaik asked Holleder to be his quarterback, a position Holleder had never played.
Blaik's decision came under fire from critics when the Cadets split their first four games, with Holleder completing only three passes. However, Blaik stuck with his inexperienced quarterback, and his judgment was vindicated. Holleder led West Point to four wins in its last five games, including an upset of powerful Navy.
In October 1967, in dense jungle 40 miles northwest of Saigon, Major Donald Holleder, 33, operations officer for a brigade of the First Infantry Division, rushed to the aid of troops who had been ambushed by the Viet Cong. He was hacking a clearing for medical helicopters when enemy machine-gun fire cut him down. An Army medic, Pfc. Thomas Hinger, who was a witness, said, "What an officer. He went on ahead of us—literally running in the point position."
Across a plaza from the Holleder Center is another monument. On it are carved these words of General Douglas Mac Arthur:
Upon the fields of friendly strife,
Are sown the seeds that,
Upon other fields, on other days,
Will bear the fruits of victory.
THEY SAID IT
•Tex Schramm, Dallas Cowboys president, on why a game against the Atlanta Falcons drew the second smallest crowd in Texas Stadium history: "I subscribe to the theory that we've been uninteresting."
•Dick Schultz, executive director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, on college recruiting: "The first time you offer an athlete something you shouldn't, you're no longer recruiting an athlete. You're buying a witness."