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For The Record

March 01, 2004
March 01, 2004

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March 1, 2004

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For The Record

DIED Race walker Albert Heppner, who apparently committed suicide
after failing to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. Heppner, 29,
finished fifth at the 50-km Olympic trials on Feb. 15 in Chula
Vista, Calif., even though he held a two-minute lead 30
kilometers into the race. After fading dramatically ("I just
started falling apart," he said later. "I've never crashed like I
did today"), Heppner collapsed at the finish and was taken by
stretcher to a holding area, where he soon recovered. Three days
later police discovered his car abandoned by the road near the
Pine Valley Bridge where he and his teammates often went hiking.
They found Heppner's body the next morning in a gorge, 200 feet
below. Heppner, who would have had another chance to qualify for
the Olympics at a meet in May, took up race walking in 1989 as a
high schooler in Maryland. By '99, after competing at Wisconsin,
he was the U.S.'s second-ranked 50-km race walker. In 2000 he
withdrew from the Olympic trials in Sacramento, suffering from
hypothermia in the frigid, wet conditions. An aspiring journalist
who was studying at San Diego State, Heppner trained at the
Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista and was known for the way
he embraced new teammates. "Al was the self-appointed welcoming
committee and the most outgoing, fun-loving guy on the team,"
said Curt Clausen, who won the Feb. 15 race. "This is impossible
to understand."

This is an article from the March 1, 2004 issue Original Layout

ERUPTED A 90-minute riot by 100 Danish prisoners protesting a
crackdown on bodybuilding. The uprising, in which an office was
destroyed by fire, took place in a maximum security facility 87
miles west of Copenhagen and followed a government order to
remove all dumbbells and other weights of 66 pounds or more from
the country's prisons and to crack down on the use of anabolic
steroids by inmates. Wardens and prison employees had complained
that they felt threatened by colossal cons. "Some inmates have
grown to abnormal size," Carsten Pedersen, the chairman of the
Union of Danish Prison Officers, said. "They have become monster
men."

QUIT The University of Florida basketball team, to sign a
contract with FC Barcelona that will pay him $1 million through
next season, starting guard Christian Drejer. The 6'9" sophomore
from Denmark was a top recruit two years ago, but injuries
limited him as a freshman. This year he averaged 10.2 points and
4.8 rebounds, and Barcelona, facing a March 3 deadline to add
players, swooped in on the agile player they have courted since
he was 16. Gators coach Billy Donovan, whose 15-8 team is on the
bubble of the NCAA tournament, seemed peeved as he spoke to
reporters about Drejer's decision and said, "What it came down to
was himself and his career."

MUFFED By Fleer, a 2002 baseball card that depicts Yankees
shortstop Derek Jeter but is labeled with Alex Rodriguez's name
and carries A-Rod's stats and bio on the back. The card was
picked up in a pack by Bob Jarvis, a 46-year-old chef from Kent,
Ohio, and a spokesperson for Fleer says the card is a
one-of-a-kind anomaly. Rich Klein, an analyst for Beckett.com,
which tracks sports collectibles, says there's no benchmark to
measure how much the card is worth but that the prophetic
displacement of A-Rod by Jeter has cachet: "Someone will pay a
decent amount of money for it," says Klein, "just because of who
it is."

COLOR PHOTO: JIM BAIRD-SAN DIEGO UNION/AP (HEPPNER)COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY BOB JARVIS (CARD)