IAAF set to let others race with Reynolds

June 22, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- They arrived, they warmed up, they did not race.

Welcome to Day 3 of the Butch Reynolds saga.

The men's 400-meter preliminaries were postponed yesterday and rescheduled for tomorrow at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

International Amateur Athletic Federation officials blinked in the wake of Saturday's Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for Reynolds, the world-record holder, to race in the trials.

The 23-member IAAF board is expected to temporarily waive its "contamination" rule. The bylaw would have penalized athletes for running against Reynolds, who was banned for two years for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. Reynolds has said he was the victim of a flawed testing procedure.

"After all of this, my name and reputation are restored," Reynolds said.

Meanwhile, the runners showed up for the 400 meters yesterday morning at Tad Gormley Stadium and were prepared if necessary to stage a boycott rather than risk four-year international bans. But they were told an hour before the scheduled 1 p.m. EDT start that the compromise was reached, and the race would go on . . . tomorrow with two heats.

"I came here with a set time to run, and now, everything is falling apart," said Chip Jenkins, formerly of Villanova.

"I think it's unfair for the athletes to have to come here and warm up," said Danny Everett, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist. "But I also think Butch Reynolds should fight for his principles."

Others, though, expressed outrage that Reynolds had pressed his fight to the trials.

"The guys don't want him to run," said Willie Caldwell, formerly of Baylor. "It should be up to the athletes. Thirty guys want him out. The Supreme Court shouldn't have anything to do with athletics."

Reynolds, though, said he wasn't backing down.

"After all I've been through, there is no way I'd change my mind," Reynolds said after a full workout.

Financially strapped after paying more than $500,000 in legal fees, limited to four races in the past 22 months, Reynolds said he was notified by American track officials that he is likely to get an additional four-year IAAF ban in August.

"I had to make a stand," he said. "Other athletes don't understand the issues at hand."

Reynolds said he would have raced yesterday, even if his brother Jeff, was the only other competitor.

"The Supreme Court said there is no international governing body that can come and take an American right away from an American athlete. This is America."

Still, after months of struggle, Reynolds needed the help of American athletic officials to be squeezed into the trials. The compromise that paved the way for Reynolds to race was worked out late Saturday night between Leroy Walker, treasurer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Primo Nebiolo, the IAAF president.

"Dr. Nebiolo had to understand that if he wanted us to remain a viable member of the IAAF, that we must follow the laws of this country," Walker said.

Stan Wright, a former U.S. Olympic track coach, said that the IAAF's bluff of banning U.S. athletes was called.

"They're going to back down," he said. "How are they not going to have American athletes running in Barcelona? No one would stand for that."

But for the 400-meter runners to advance to the Summer Games of Barcelona, Spain, they will have to overcome a grueling schedule -- two races tomorrow, a third-round Wednesday and a final Friday.

"It throws a lot of guys off their programs," Jenkins said. "A lot of people have worked to peak one specific day."

But Reynolds said the new schedule benefits all athletes.

"I'm going to have to pull a hat out of the bag," he said. "It will be a challenge for all athletes. But it will be more of a challenge for Butch Reynolds."

For now, Reynolds can rejoice. But his prospects in the sport are bleak. Even Walker acknowledged that Reynolds' chances of running in the Olympics remain slim because the IAAF, not the Supreme Court, controls eligibility at the Summer Games.

"What is the old saying?" Walker said. "He won the battle, but lost the war."

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