D E N V E R, July 18, 2000 -- U.S. Olympic leaders have been accused by their former doping chief of hampering his fight against drugs anddenying him promotions and opportunities because he is black.
A 30-page complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court inDenver by Dr. Wade Exum claims the U.S. Olympic Committee evadedits responsibility to screen and discipline athletes for drugs inits quest to produce medal-winners.
Although no athletes are identified, the lawsuit says Exum knowsof competitors who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugsin the Olympic trials and went on to win medals at the OlympicGames.
Repeating claims he made when he resigned in protest last month,Exum says in the lawsuit that about half the American athletes whohave tested positive for prohibited substances have goneunpunished.
USOC chief executive officer Norm Blake criticized the timing ofthe lawsuit, filed less than two months before the start of the2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, because it raises“unwarranted allegations” that tarnish the reputation of American athletes.
In a prepared statement, Blake said USOC officials receivedExum’s lawsuit Monday afternoon and have not been able to review itin depth yet. But he said Exum’s previous allegations have not beensubstantiated.
“We will continue to work with our outside counsel to evaluatewhat possible legal remedy and actions we might take, if any,”Blake said.
In the lawsuit, Exum claims his anti-drug efforts were“willfully and repeatedly undermined” by the committee’s “unwillingness to adopt an anti-doping program that had any real probability of preventing athletic doping and protecting the health and well-being of American athletes.”
The USOC’s real interest is “procuring gold medalists whoperform not just superbly, but who realize superhumanachievements,” the suit claims, adding that the USOC “knows that to achieve these superhuman records, doping must occur.”
The suit accuses the USOC of deferring to each sport’sindividual governing body on discipline, resulting in punishmentsthat are nonexistent or so light that they encourage drug use.
It says Exum was told to mind his own business when he raisedconcerns that non-doctors were given keys to what the suit calls“a pharmacopeia” in the USOC’s Sports Medicine Division andallowed to dispense the medicines to athletes.
Exum Claims Discrimination
Exum resigned June 5 after nine years as director of the USOC’sDrug Control Administration, saying he was forced out by racialdiscrimination, ethical dilemmas, harassment and other factors. Oneof his eight claims in the suit is wrongful termination.
Exum’s claims of racial discrimination — against the USOC andthe United States Anti-Doping Agency — are based on allegationsthat he was repeatedly passed over for promotions and deniedopportunities in favor of whites, and was “subject to hyperscrutiny” because of his race.
Exum also claims he was retaliated against after he tried toeliminate a perceived conflict of interest in drug testing. Thesuit says the directors of the two labs that have been hired toanalyze urine samples for the USOC also sit on the board of itsAnti-Doping Committee.
It also claims that Exum was asked to participate in a studythat involved testing prohibited substances on athletes “using aprotocol amounting to racial profiling,” and was then excludedfrom participation when he objected to the program.
USOC officials have defended the study, which was funded by theInternational Olympic Committee and the Australian government andinvolved athletes at the Olympic Training Center in ColoradoSprings and the volunteers at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
When Exum made a similar accusation last month, USOC spokesmanMike Moran said the athletes selected were “a cross section of theUnited States Olympic Team based on gender, race, age and place ofresidence” and called the racial-profiling claim “reckless andwithout merit.”
Moran also denied other allegations Exum and his lawyers madelast month, saying, “we find it incredible that the individualcharged with the direction and success of our own drug program nowis criticizing it and challenging its effectiveness.”