WIDE WORLD OF DRUGS
Last week brought a mèlange of drug news from several sports:
•The discovery of cocaine in postrace urine samples taken from six thoroughbreds in California (SCORECARD, Feb. 27) may not have been, as the horses' trainers have alleged, a mere foul-up by the testing lab used by the state racing board. An independent laboratory working for the California chapter of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association says that it has run preliminary screening tests on 1,024 urine samples taken from thoroughbreds after races at California tracks and that 109 have turned up evidence of at least one of 21 illegal drugs, including cocaine. Positive samples must be retested for confirmation, but according to the lab. International Diagnostic Systems, of St. Joseph, Mich., cocaine was found "frequently in combination" with other drugs, including synthetic narcotics.
•A New York Post investigation found indications that drug use is prevalent among stable hands at two New York tracks, Aqueduct and Belmont. One security guard at Aqueduct told the paper that he had seen stable hands having crack parties, and a Post reporter found empty crack vials outside the stable hands' dorms at the track. "The use of drugs on the back-stretch is so widespread we can't monitor it," a New York State Racing and Wagering Board official said.
March 20, 1989
•In Toronto, at the Canadian federal inquiry into drug use in amateur sports, sprinter Ben Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, continued his testimony (SI, March 13) by charging that Canadian Track and Field Association officials have known of steroid use among Canadian athletes since the early 1980s, about the time he says he began giving steroids to Johnson. Under cross-examination, Francis admitted he hadn't closely monitored the health effects of steroids on the athletes to whom he gave the drugs.
•Jacques Sabatier, whose 17-year-old son, Cyril, was stripped of the French junior cycling title last year after a drug test indicated he was on steroids, threatened to stage a hunger strike until Cyril is exonerated. French cycling officials maintain that there is no reason to doubt the test results.
As if all that weren't enough for one week, Luis Freitas, the 1987 Mr. Universe, was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, on charges of conspiracy and trafficking in steroids. Freitas, a Brazilian, was in Columbus to attend the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic bodybuilding competition. In an ad in the latest issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine, Freitas claims he attained his build "with nothing artificial added."
SIGN OF THE TIMES
There's reportedly a new bumper sticker in San Diego that reads STEVE GARVEY IS NOT MY PADRE.
DOUBLE THE FUN
After Bucknell reserve forward Greg Leggett got poked in the left eye during the first half of his team's East Coast Conference basketball tournament semifinal against Hofstra at Towson (Md.) State, he wasn't expected to return to the game. But at halftime, with the Bisons trailing 38-34, Leggett's uncle—Dr. Tom Burkholder, an ophthalmologist—came out of the stands, examined his nephew's eye and diagnosed two corneal abrasions. Burkholder said that if Leggett didn't mind the discomfort—and could see without his left contact lens, which had been lost during the poking incident—he could safely take the court in the second half.
Leggett played, and despite seeing overlapping images, made good on 9 of 10 free throw attempts, including 6 of 6 in overtime as the Bisons came from behind to win 89-84. "It was weird," he said afterward. "Nothing looked quite right."
Two nights later Bucknell defeated Lafayette 71-65 in the tournament final to earn an NCAA berth. With his vision still fuzzy, Leggett scored 13 points coming off the bench and was named to the all-tournament team.
KEEPING HIM IN STITCHES
Houston Astro pitcher Bob Forsch was being measured for his uniform pants the other day when the tailor asked, "How long do you want these?"
"Hopefully all season," replied Forsch.
TURNING MEN INTO MUSH
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska is one of the few sports events in which women compete against men. And truth be known, the event has been hard on the weaker sex—men, that is. Susan Butcher has been the winning musher for the past three years, and when the 1,168-mile race from Anchorage to Nome reached its midpoint last week, she was leading again. Says Joe Redington Sr., who founded the Iditarod 17 years ago, "It's getting pretty damn hard for a man to win anything anymore. Maybe we should start a men's race."
Mike Tyson was riding along Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills, Calif., the other day in his white Mercedes convertible. He was looking for a hamburger joint when he happened to espy a Ferrari dealership. Tyson pulled in, and in the blink of an eye a salesman was showing him a $205,000, 400-horsepower black Testarossa capable of exceeding 180 mph. Tyson liked it. He called fight promoter Don King, who handles his business affairs, and instructed King to wire the money to the car dealership's bank account. When asked what he planned to do with his Mercedes, which he had bought in Las Vegas a week earlier, Tyson said, "That's for California. This is for New York."
While workmen put a stereo in the car, Tyson got his hamburger. Then—three hours after arriving on the lot—he drove off in his new Ferrari.
LISTEN UP, BRICK MASONS
After reading Jack McCallum's story on the NBA's most god-awful free throw shooters (page 96), we decided to ask Baldwin-Wallace College sophomore Valerie Kepner, who hit 95.5% of her free throws this season and set an NCAA record by canning 69 straight, what her secret is.
"It helps to do exactly the same things every time," says Kepner. "I always wipe the sweat off [my palms] onto my socks, then walk to the line. I center my right foot, take three dribbles and look at the rim—but not long enough to choke on it." Kepner advises putting plenty of arc on the ball and practicing every day, year-round.
Kepner says she also keeps a lucky charm in her right sock; it's a necklace that was given to her before this season by a friend. "But that might not work for everybody," she admits.
MUTINY IN THE ARENA
Arenaball, the ship-in-a-bottle version of football created two years ago by former USFL team executive Jim Foster, has been torn asunder by a mutiny. The league's five limited partners announced on Sunday that they were firing Foster as commissioner and chief executive officer and canceling the 1989 season, which would have opened early this summer. The partners, who anticipate returning to play in 1990, said Foster had done a poor job of running the league and that it faced losses of up to $5 million this season.
But that's only one side of a very complex story. Foster claims that he revoked the partners' licenses to use the rules and terminology of Arena-ball—for which he has patents and trademarks pending—a month ago. He says that the league may indeed operate this year, with six to eight teams. Foster plans to enlist the owners of the arenas in which those teams would play as his new partners.
When the league was created, each of the five limited partners made an investment of $750,000 and signed a contract to run a team, and league-office employees, led by Foster, were issued stock in the venture. Foster and the other stockholders were to receive all revenues, pay all bills and distribute all profits, in which the limited partners would share. But shortly into Arena-ball's first season, the limited partners took charge of the league's sagging finances and began to cut Foster out of the picture. "Guys didn't want to rent their football team from some guy who invented it," says Foster. "They wanted to own it."
The limited partners insist they still hold legal licenses from Foster to field Arenaball teams, and they think the league can survive a year's hiatus. "It sounds so much like the USFL that if history is a teacher we will wither and die," says Mike Hope, general manager of the Los Angeles Cobras. "But we're a different product, and we're not competing with the NFL."
Unfortunately for Arenaball, that may not be true for long. The NFL is considering the creation of a spring-summer league with teams in both the U.S. and Europe. No firm plans have been laid out, but the new league would feed talent to the NFL and increase the NFL's worldwide exposure.
THEY SAID IT
•Bucky Waters, NBC and USA Network basketball commentator, after watching Mikhail Baryshnikov act in a production of Kafka's Metamorphosis at Duke: "Baryshnikov was great, but the play needs a shot clock."
•Gene Nelson, disc jockey for KSFO in San Francisco, on the flashy new Florence Griffith Joyner doll: "When Ken sees it, he's going to dump Barbie like a hot potato."