July 30, 1996
Bailey stands test of time
By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD -- At The Olympics
ATLANTA -- Donovan Bailey is probably the most drug-tested athlete in the world, and the head of arguably the world's most rigorous doping control program - Canada's - says he'd "be very surprised if he (Bailey) was taking anything."
Casey Wade, director of doping control for the Canadian Centre for Drug-Free Sport in Ottawa, the independent agency which springs random, unannounced drug tests on Canadian athletes, made the comments yesterday in the wake of a published report that Bailey is the target of innuendo among Canadian Olympic Association officials here.
The story, curiously, surfaced through Bailey's coach, Dan Pfaff, who told The Toronto Star some COA officials, whom he didn't name, were "insinuating" Bailey didn't get his gold medal cleanly.
Pfaff complained particularly about the Canadian medical staff, whom he said were "pointing fingers" at Bailey and "holding their breath" until he was cleared.
But in fact, Canada's chief medical officer in Atlanta, Dr. Jim Sproule, and Wade, in a telephone interview from Ottawa, defended both Canada's tough doping program and Bailey as its most visible symbol of success.
"The more these guys are tested," Sproule said, "the more it legitimizes their results." He said if an American had won the 100 metres, for example, the result would have been much more questionable because of the haphazard U.S. testing program.
The Centre for Drug-Free Sport doesn't release publicly the number of times it has tested individual athletes, Wade said, but he revealed that in the past six months, Bailey had been tested more than a dozen times.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Buffery, in fact, reported before the Games began that in Bailey's last week of competition in Europe, before his final pre-Olympic race on July 10, he was tested on four separate occasions, twice in competition, and twice randomly in tests ordered directly from Canada.
Buffery also reported that at a camp for the Canadian relay team last May, all of the sprinters, including Bailey, were subjected to surprise tests. One young sprinter, Sean Baksh of Toronto, who had come to the relay camp on his own and wasn't part of the Bailey-Pfaff group, tested positive.
Sproule was astonished by Pfaff's reported comments.
He said he knew the sprinter's coach was annoyed that late last week Sproule left the athletes' village here to see Bailey, Gilbert and long jumper Rich Duncan to give them the same "one-on-one" medication review all other members of the Canadian team received.
The review is designed to prevent an athlete from "inadvertent doping," taking an over-the-counter medication or herbal remedy which might contain a surprise banned substance.
Sproule said Pfaff was angry at the timing of the meeting, held the day before the 100-metre final. "But I can't help that," Sproule said. "They (Bailey et al) were-n't here" until last Wednesday, when they arrived in Atlanta from their training site in Austin, Tex.
Wade said sprinters and lifters, who would benefit most from the increased explosive power anabolic steroids bestow on those who use them, are special targets for testing in Canada. He also admitted Bailey, a star in track's most glamorous event, where the winner can reap millions in endorsements afterwards, has been under particular scrutiny.
"Donovan has been subjected to such rigorous testing, I'd be very surprised if he was taking anything," Wade said. "The reality is that people don't have a whole lot of confidence" in the doping programs run elsewhere, "where they don't have effective testing," but he said Canadians can reasonably presume their athletes are drug-free.
Pfaff didn't return messages left for him yesterday, and the fastest man in the world, meantime, told The Sun's Buffery, "I don't know anything about it (the remarks made by Pfaff)", but "I'm sure if Dan had something to say, he had something to say."
Drug test results are usually announced at the Olympics within between 24 and 48 hours after an event, and only if there is a positive finding. Donovan Bailey, then, should be deemed clean as a whistle tomorrow when Michelle Verdier of the International Olympic Committee, at her regular morning briefing, does not mention his name.
Verdier, of course, is the very woman who, in Seoul in 1988, revealed that Canada's Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids, and was being stripped of his gold medal.