France's Jean-Claude Killy might be the hero to save the IOC
At its meeting next week in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC will
toss a few more of its small fry to the wolves while the man who
has presided over the Games' disgrace will surely remain in
command. But if Juan Antonio Samaranch won't do the honorable
thing and resign, at least his fifth term as IOC president will
end in 2001. Then, at last, the organization will have a chance
not only to find fresh, untainted leadership but also to
establish the sort of management used by virtually every other
organization--governmental, profit and nonprofit--in the world.
That is, the chief executive should be a paid professional
working with other salaried administrators, all answerable to an
independent board. The Olympics should not be run by a volunteer
CEO any more than should the United Nations, Coca-Cola, the NHL,
Omaha or Argentina. Samaranch got a lot of credit for
eliminating amateurism from the Olympics. Unfortunately, he got
rid of the wrong amateurs.
In choosing a successor to Samaranch, the circle-the-wagons IOC
will undoubtedly want to stay within the "movement." If so,
there is one obvious choice: Jean-Claude Killy. He has all the
credentials. Not only was Killy a dashing champion--a three-time
gold medalist in skiing--but he also proved his administrative
skills with his superb management of the Albertville Games in
'92. An untarnished IOC back-bencher since '95, Killy is
European, a Frenchman who lives in Switzerland, but unlike
Samaranch he likes the United States and is comfortable with
American culture. He's also a close friend of Samaranch's, so
his election would not repudiate his hapless predecessor.
For now, Killy is saying all the right things. "Mr. Samaranch
will be on the job until 2001, so there is absolutely no reason
to speak about succession today," he told me recently. But then,
as we strolled along the promenade by Lake Geneva, he didn't
reject the idea. Laughing, Killy said, "You know, when I left my
house, I was 15 years old, and it seems like I never came back.
I've been in hotels all my life, and now I'm 55, and I'm a
little tired of it all. So we will wait before I make any
March 15, 1999
Killy clearly seems to be the one person--a leader in practice
and image alike--who can save the Olympics from its committee.
REAL DEAL MEETS NEW DEAL
A guy could have gone broke betting against Evander Holyfield.
Even now, though Holyfield is 36 and coming off a desultory
title defense against Vaughn Bean, no responsible tout will
advise wagering against the man who toppled Mike Tyson twice.
Still, this Saturday's heavyweight title fight between Holyfield
and 33-year-old Lennox Lewis at Madison Square Garden might
conform to the oldest of boxing's adages, the good big man
beating the good little man. In what could be the only
meaningful heavyweight fight for several years to come, the
leverage that WBC champion Lewis produces from his 6'5",
245-pound frame should nullify Holyfield's fierce determination.
The shorter (by 2 1/2 inches) and lighter (by 25 pounds) WBA and
IBF champ will get eaten up by Lewis's long jab as he tries to
make up distance. Given Holyfield's inclination to come in on
his opponent at all costs, it could get ugly.
Holyfield's recent inconsistency is as troubling to his chances
as the size difference. His stirring victories over Tyson in '96
and Michael Moorer in '97 to win the WBA and IBF titles,
respectively, were followed by a lackluster decision over Bean
last year. You don't like to write off a guy who retired with
what was thought to be a hole in his heart and then returned to
regain two belts, but Holyfield's manic conditioning can take
him only so far.
Lewis is no model of consistency himself. (You can't even pin a
nationality on this guy: He was born in England of Jamaican
heritage and won a 1988 Olympic gold for Canada.) Maybe if his
only loss hadn't been to Oliver McCall--a 1994 upset engineered
by trainer Emanuel Steward, who's now in Lewis's corner--he
would be more appreciated. Maybe if any of his three subsequent
title fights, including his rematch with McCall for the WBC belt
three years later, had unfolded in a conventional way, he would
have built more of a following. But while Holyfield has been
paired with such attractive and game foes as George Foreman,
Riddick Bowe and Moorer, Lewis has been saddled with one head
case after another. In his rematch with McCall, his dazed
opponent dissolved into tears in the ring. In another bout,
challenger Henry Akinwande hugged his way to a disqualification.
Andrew Golota simply froze in the ring, allowing a puzzled Lewis
to level him in the first round.
Now, finally, Lewis has a proven opponent and a chance to
participate in a good heavyweight title bout (no oxymoron this
time), maybe even a spectacular one. Lewis is bigger, stronger
and fresher than Holyfield, and if he's not the warrior
Holyfield is, he's at least a younger one. So we figure Lewis in
eight. But bet it light. --Richard Hoffer
White House Premiere
WONDER WOMEN AND THE CLINTONS
While pundits parsed her every phrase for hints at an answer to
the question of the hour, Will Hillary run for the Senate?, the
First Lady spent last Thursday evening honoring women who had
run (and jumped and swum and volleyed) before her. At a
screening of the HBO documentary Dare to Compete: The Struggle
of Women in Sports, Ms. Clinton played hostess and fan to a
sparkling array of sportswomen.
"I've never seen such a collection of athletes--not women
athletes, just athletes--at the White House," she told an
all-star gathering in the East Room that included Nadia
Comaneci, Chris Evert, Dorothy Hamill, Billie Jean King and even
1932 Olympic swimming champ Eleanor Holm Whalen. After drawing
laughs for her recollections of playing half-court basketball
("We weren't allowed to play full-court like the boys because,
we were told, our hearts were too weak"), the First Lady joined
the President for some schmoozing in the State Dining Room.
Hillary chatted with diminutive gymnast Dominique Dawes while
Bill posed for photos with WNBA star Lisa Leslie, who towered
But it was the widow Whalen who made a splash with the Prez. As
Eleanor Holm Jarrett she was kicked off the '36 U.S. Olympic
team for drinking champagne on the boat to Germany--an incident
she turned to gold by parlaying her notoriety into a role in
Billy Rose's Aquacade at the '39 World's Fair and a 15-year
marriage to Rose. On Thursday the feisty Whalen, now 86, told
Bill, "You're a good-looking dude."
"I saw you sitting on that couch, and I'd love to have joined
you there," said the smiling President.
"Anytime, Mr. President," she said, "anytime."
A Destroyed Champion
Nothing symbolizes the despoiling of Calumet Farm, once horse
racing's preeminent breeding operation, better than the
mysterious death of Alydar, the most famous runner-up in Triple
Crown history and, later, racing's greatest sire (SI, Nov. 16,
1992). In April 1991, less than six months after Alydar was
destroyed because of a broken right hind leg--purportedly
suffered when he kicked his stall door--Calumet buckled under a
debt of more than $167 million, and its president, J.T. Lundy,
resigned in disgrace.
Lundy, 58, may soon face questions in court regarding the death
of Alydar, runner-up to Affirmed in all three 1978 Triple Crown
races. Along with Gary Mathews, Calumet's former chief financial
officer, Lundy was arrested last week for conspiracy, bank fraud
and bank bribery. In December a federal grand jury in Houston
had indicted Lundy and Mathews for paying an official of
Houston's First City Bancorporation $1.1 million to secure a $50
million loan. A $15 million payment on that loan was due on
February 28, 1991, according to Wild Ride, a book by Ann
Hagedorn Auerbach on the fall of Calumet. Suspicions that the
horse was killed for insurance money have been fueled by the
fact that soon after collecting $36.5 million in life insurance
on Alydar, Calumet made a $20.5 million payment to First City.
"The return of another indictment is possible," says Julia Hyman
of the U.S. attorney's office in Houston. Lundy was unavailable
for comment, but his lawyer, Joseph Buchanan, says he expects
his client to plead not guilty.
December's indictments are part of a continuing federal
investigation into relations between First City and Calumet Farm
and the circumstances of Alydar's death. Former Calumet groom
Alton Stone was convicted last year of lying to a federal grand
jury about his activities on the night that Alydar's leg was
shattered. With Lundy in custody, the feds might soon be able to
pin down once and for all who or what killed the sport's most
famous second-place finisher.
Navy vs. Kubiak
Duty, honor and loyalty are prized at the U.S. Naval Academy,
but those qualities apparently aren't atop the list of Lieut.
(J.G.) Jim Kubiak, a former Navy quarterback. He's fighting in
court to escape the last 17 months of his five-year military
commitment so that he can play football.
After graduating from Annapolis in 1995 as the Midshipmen's most
prolific passer ever, Kubiak served on the aircraft carrier USS
Eisenhower. In January 1998 he filed a voluntary resignation
request, which the Navy denied. Undeterred, Kubiak signed with
the Indianapolis Colts. He then asked the Navy to reconsider his
request--this time promising to return to duty if he failed to
make the Colts' roster. On March 4, 1998, Secretary of the Navy
John Dalton released him under those conditions.
Kubiak played sparingly in the preseason, and Indianapolis cut
him before the season opener. In November he was recalled to
active duty, effective Dec. 28. Kubiak and the Colts asked the
Navy to reconsider, but on Dec. 14 Richard Danzig, Dalton's
successor, upheld Kubiak's recall. The Navy claims Kubiak spent
the next month ducking its attempts to serve him with his orders.
Kubiak, who says he was unaware of the orders, signed a new
contract with Indianapolis on Dec. 29 and in January obtained a
temporary restraining order preventing the Navy from returning
him to active duty. Judge William Skretny of the U.S. District
Court in Buffalo ruled that Kubiak's football career could
suffer irreparable damage if he were forced to return to the
Navy. A hearing on making the injunction permanent is set for
March 22. Kubiak, whom the Colts assigned to the Barcelona
Dragons of NFL Europe last month, hopes to play football and
serve the rest of his Navy commitment in the reserves.
One thing damaging Kubiak's case is a letter he sent Dalton
after the Colts cut him. "I will faithfully, without reservation
or hesitation, execute any decision you make with respect to my
current 'non-contract' status," he wrote. Admitting that his
status didn't "meet the specific requirements" of his agreement
with the Navy, he averred that "my commitment to the Navy is
first and foremost."
Kubiak won't comment on the letter, but he told SI, "From Day
One, I wanted to do this the right way. That meant graduating,
accepting a commission and serving my country. This is just a
But it's more than that. Kubiak made a deal with the Navy, and
now he wants out of it. The crux of the case, says his lawyer,
Harry Werner, is that Kubiak made the Colts' "active roster" and
was paid for the club's first regular-season game of '98. Yet
Colts director of public relations Craig Kelley says
Indianapolis has no "active roster" designation. According to
Kelley, Kubiak was on the Colts' training camp roster and
then--for one day--on their practice squad, and was not paid for
any regular-season games.
The Navy found a way for David Robinson and Napoleon McCallum to
play in the pros, and it risks looking cruel by playing hardball
with a marginal pro like Kubiak. In this case, though, it's the
player, not the Navy, who's all wet.
Kickbox Sex Swap
HE'D RATHER SWITCH THAN FIGHT
Thailand's most colorful kickboxer doesn't want to be a champion
anymore. He wants to be a woman. Pirinya Kiatbusaba, 18, began
wowing Bangkok crowds in 1997 by wearing lipstick and mascara
during fights and occasionally kissing his opponents. Now
Kiatbusaba, who says, "I've given up boxing," is undergoing
preoperative treatments at Bangkok's Yanhee Hospital, an Asian
center for sex-change surgery. Teenage patients like Kiatbusaba
must have parental permission as well as months of counseling
before changing sexes. One counselor he won't want to hear is
his 22-year-old sister, Chalermsri. "I've tried to discourage
him," she says. "I've told him, 'Once you do this, you'll never
be the same.'"
A Wish List
--That more schools follow Notre Dame's example and ban their
logos from clothes made in sweatshops.
--That Fidel Castro hits it off with the U.S. ambassador of
charm, Albert Belle.
--That Mike Tyson doesn't toss any TVs when he finds out there's
no pay-per-view in jail.
Triple doubles in the NBA through Sunday, including four by the
Suns' Jason Kidd.
Miles of pipe carrying antifreeze under the rink at Nashville
Arena, home of the NHL Predators.
Former 49ers signed by the expansion Browns, who are run by
former Niners executives Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark.
Value of a stolen set of Orlimar TriMetal golf clubs a Florida
man offered golfer Raymond Floyd for $5 each, leading Floyd to
call security at the Doral-Ryder Open.
Cubic yards of lead-contaminated dirt discovered at the site of
San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park, where the Giants will begin
playing next year.
Amount new Packers coach Ray Rhodes will lose by refusing to do
a local TV show next season.
Salary the Red Wings' Sergei Fedorov will lose during a
five-game suspension for slashing the Islanders' Zdeno Chara.
Michael Jordan's 1998 earnings, according to Forbes magazine.
The Big, Big Chill
The between-periods show during a Maple Leafs-Islanders game at
Nassau Coliseum was more Fantasia than Slap Shot as skaters in
inflatable sumo suits--complete with colored thongs to
differentiate their teams--flopped and thudded all over the ice.
Refs spent much of their time picking up toppled tubbies.
FESH PRINCE OF THE PEN
The sidewinder who baffled hitters at the Phillies' camp in
Clearwater, Fla., last week seemed washed up two years ago. Sean
Fesh blew out his left elbow while in the Padres' system in
1995. After reconstructive surgery he hung around the minors
until he was let go by the Mets in '97. But Fesh wouldn't quit.
He phoned every big league organization, offering to fly
anywhere at his own expense for a tryout. He had switched to a
sidearm delivery, he said, and gained velocity and movement. The
clubs' response: a collective yawn. Last May at a Triple A game
in Scranton, Pa., Fesh spotted Phillies senior adviser Dallas
Green in the crowd and pestered him for a tryout. Green amazed
him by promising to arrange one. The next week the Phils signed
Fesh to a minor league deal. He saved nine games for Double A
Reading in '98, striking out 41 in 33 innings with a 1.36 ERA.
This year he'll probably be the closer for
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Phillies' Triple A affiliate. Sitting
by his locker last week, the 26-year-old Fesh wore a big league
uniform and a big grin. "I won't stop playing this game until
they rip this jersey off me," he said.
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
The USOC protested that it had suffered "substantial damages and
irreparable harm" after a Salt Lake City alternative weekly used
five rings and the phrase "no bribes necessary" to promote a
They Said It
Tigers manager, who knocks on wood when asked about injuries:
"If you're not superstitious, you'll have bad luck."