Sports arbiters set sights on dopes

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

Now that they've got a pretty good handle on doping, the people who arbitrate sports appeals are going to work on dopes.

Dopes, as in wackos like the defrocked Irish priest who came out of the blue to push an Olympic marathon runner into the crowd and out of gold-medal contention.

Richard McLaren, who spoke yesterday to the Canadian Club of London about drugs in sports, will participate in the aggrieved marathoner's quest for a gold medal as a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima may have been en route to a gold medal in Athens when Cornelius Horan burst from the crowd and grabbed the runner, propelling him into the crowd on the opposite side of the street.

De Lima regained his balance, if not his rhythm, and got back into the race to finish third and win the bronze.

The runner, whose once-large lead had been slowly shrinking, lost several seconds and eventually was overtaken by Stefano Baldini of Italy, the winner in two hours, 10 minutes, 55 seconds, and Mebrahtom Keflezighi of the United States (2:11:29). De Lima finished in 2:12:11.

The Brazilian federation protested the result and sought a duplicate gold for de Lima but was rejected.

"It's something we have to deal with," McLaren said earlier. "I think everyone who saw (the incident) feels for de Lima. But the rules are clear. The first runner over the line is the winner."

He said a look at the rules is worth considering to help address such untoward events. A look at security, obviously, is another must.

Horan, who was fined by the Greek courts and given a suspended sentence, had earlier run-ins at sporting events, including a stroll onto the course of the British Grand Prix auto race that nearly created crashes as cars travelling at 320 km/h weaved around him.

McLaren went through the alphabet soup of performance-enhancing substances and methods with his rapt audience, making it clear that while amateur sports is beginning to present a cohesive battle via the universal guidelines of the World Anti-Doping Agency, professional sport lags badly, with only professional tennis buying into WADA.

The UWO professor is a long-time member of the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration and chaired an independent review committee that forced changes in how the United States Track and Field Association handles drug testing.

The one-time arbiter for the NHL and NHL Players' Association has been mentioned as a candidate to help resolve the current lockout dispute.

"There are some indications baseball might make its policies relating to performance-enhancing substances more clear," he said.

Mention of drugs in sports by U.S. President George W. Bush last year, coupled with the threat of pro ball owners losing some tax deductions, has helped. The NFL has clear policies, but no strong ones exist in the NBA or NHL.

The blood-doping (removing, then later transfusing one's own blood), synthetic blood, taking human growth hormones or stimulants, and even injecting another's urine into one's own bladder to help beat tests are one thing, but it's the anabolic steroids that really trouble authorities.

"It's affecting kids," McLaren said. "Some of them are taking (steroids) and they aren't even athletes. They're taking them in efforts to create a buff body."

McLaren, off to give an address at Kings College in London, England, before heading for Lausanne and to hear CAS cases next week, says there's something else in the works.

CAS is prepared to reduce sanctions in cases where a banned stimulant was clearly taken inadvertently.


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