SPORTS

Sports Illustrated, January 21, 1995

REVELATIONS OF BLOOD DOPING AT THE GAMES IN LOS ANGELES LAST SUMMER MARRED THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF SOME OF AMERICA’S BEST OLYMPIC CYCLISTS

 

“Anybody who tells me that removing athletes’ blood or giving someone else’s blood for transfusion into an athlete to try to improve performance is an O.K. thing to do—he’s just nuts.”

So said Dr. Irving Dardik, the director of a U.S. Olympic Committee investigative panel, after it was disclosed last week that seven members of the U.S. Olympic cycling team, including four medalists, one a champion, had “blood boosted” at the Los Angeles Games, and that another, Danny Van Haute, had done so at the July 5-7 trials.

They had received transfusions in the belief, or hope, that the increased red-blood-cell count would get more oxygen to their tiring muscles during their races. Van Haute had been reinfused with his own blood, which had been withdrawn several weeks earlier and had been held in cold storage. At the Games, the other seven had received the blood of relatives and others with similar blood types, a procedure that carries significantly greater health risks than reinfusion (see box, page 17), and theretofore had rarely been used in an attempt to win sporting events.

Steve Hegg, who won a gold medal and a silver, received blood, as did silver medalists Rebecca Twigg, Pat McDonough and Leonard Nitz, who also won a bronze. John Beckman, Mark Whitehead and Brent Emery were identified as the others. The rest of the 24-member team had been offered transfusions and had turned them down.

“It’s real bad for cycling, and it’s real bad for all of us who didn’t participate,” said Connie Carpenter, a “completely antisubstance” rider who edged Twigg by millimeters to win the women’s road race. “The blame falls directly on the coaching staff, and from everything I’ve heard since, I’m surprised nobody died.” Pursuiter Dave Grylls had also refused blood boosting, and he, too, was quoted as saying there had been pressure from the coaching staff.

The staff they blame is headed by Edward Borysewicz, known to the cycling world as Eddy B. The transfusions were suggested by him by staff members or by the physician who oversaw the boosting, Dr. Herman Falsetti, a professor of cardiology at the University of Iowa. Last weekend Col. F. Don Miller, executive director of the USOC, said that the “responsible individuals should be held accountable.”

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