NEW YORK -- The arbitrator's decision allowing Butch Reynolds to compete in the national championships has put the U.S. track federation, TAC/USA, at odds with its parent organization, the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
Reynolds, suspended two years by the IAAF after a positive drug test last August, got TAC partly off the hook by finishing seventh of eight in a first-round heat of the 400 meters at the USA/Mobil Championships last night.
His time, 47.40 seconds, was .71 slower than what was needed to advance to today's semifinals. That means he can no longer qualify for the U.S. team in the World Championships, which fall under direct IAAF control.
"The victory for me was to run," Reynolds said. "But the competitor in me and the athlete I am, I hate to do what I just did."
Reynolds, who has the 400 world record of 43.29, had not done any serious training as his appeals of the suspension dragged on fruitlessly before last Friday. It was then he was cleared to run in an arbitration procedure mandated by the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the federal law that restructured Olympic sports in the United States.
"National laws take precedence over sports rules," said Frank Greenberg, TAC president.
The IAAF still considers Reynolds suspended. Under its rule 53 (2), the IAAF also can suspend every athlete who "has taken part in any athletic meeting or event in which any of the competitors were, to his knowledge, ineligible to compete under IAAF rules."
That means everyone competing here faces the threat of suspension. Given the pre-eminent position of the United States in world track,there is little chance the IAAF will carry out that threat.
The IAAF has, however, expressed annoyance with both the aribitration procedure and Greenberg's statement. In a FAX sent late Wednesday night, IAAF executive director John Holt reminded TAC executive director Ollan Cassell that TAC "was expected to obey IAAF rules" and exclude Reynolds.
Cassell nevertheless discussed the matter with TAC attorney Peter Alkaly and IAAF attorneys befor allowing Reynolds to run as scheduled last night.
Julie Jenkins, the nation's top-ranked 800-meter runner, was nearly knocked out of the running (or worse) when she was hit by a mini-van yesterday morning.
The accident occurred as Jenkins, wife of Illinois assistant track coach Milan Donley, was crossing 7th Avenue in Manhattan to board an athletes' shuttle bus to the track. She was scheduled to run a first-round heat at 12:40 p.m.
Jenkins was thrown onto the hood of the van, bruising her left calf and collarbone. She nevertheless took the next shuttle to Downing Stadium, intending to have a checkup after her race.
Officials ordered her to undergo a precautionary exam at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. That forced her to miss the qualifying heat, but a jury of appeals gave her a spot in today's semifinals after X-rays were negative and she was medically cleared to compete.