Drug accusations overshadow McKoy's 110-meter gold medal Triple jump won by hard-luck Conley

August 04, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain -- Mark McKoy, a footnote in the Ben Johnson saga, came back to haunt the 1992 Summer Olympics last night.

The Canadian hurdler who fled the 1988 Games of Seoul, South Korea, one step behind Johnson and served a two-year ban for admitting steroid use, roared past Americans Tony Dees and Jack Pierce to win the 110-meter gold.

"I just forgot about 1988, and the whole track and field world wants to put this chapter behind," McKoy said.

Writing a happy chapter to his hard-luck story was triple jumper Mike Conley, who won a gold medal in a 1-2 American finish that saw Charlie Simpkins get the silver for a jump of 57-9.

On his final jump of the night, Conley flew 59 feet, 7 1/2 inches. But a puff of wind that blew at 2.1 meters per second -- one-tenth of a meter per second over the legal limit -- kept Conley from breaking fellow American Willie Banks' record of 58-11 1/2 . Conley didn't seem to mind.

"I came here, I won a gold medal, I jumped over 18 meters and, to sit here and be disappointed about a 2.1-meter wind would just be being greedy," said Conley, 30, of Fayetteville, Ark. "The world record will come.

"I've been second and third place, fourth place, all my life. Everybody always says Mike Conley can't win the big one. Today, I'm the best jumper in the world."

Frank Rutherford won only the second medal ever for the Bahamas, going 56-11 1/2 .

Even as the first batch of drug tests of track and field medalists came in negative, the accusations of drug use among women's sprinters flew again.

It was "she said, she said, he said" as American Gwen Torrence, Jamaican Juliet Cuthbert and American coach Bobby Kersee engaged in a war of computer messages and words over the results of Saturday's women's 100-meter final and angry accusations of drug use by two of the three medalists.

Torrence, who bitterly derided her rivals for drug use after finishing fourth in the 100, declared in a statement last night: "I came up to Juliet Cuthbert [the silver medalist] on the practice track and told her I did not think she was on drugs. I did tell her that I suspected there were three people in the final who were competing unfairly, but I will not say names. I think this has been blown way out of proportion. I will have nothing else to say to the media because I feel this has been taken out of context."

But Torrence pointedly did not clear gold medalist Gail Devers of the U.S., and Irina Privalova of the Unified Team, even though the International Olympic Committee announced all drug tests through Saturday were negative.

In halting English, Privalova denied using drugs.

"Gwen Torrence is the best sportswoman in America," she said. "She said we are friends. I not know what Torrence maybe said. It's crazy. Maybe after the race she was very angry or crazy."

Devers was unavailable for comment, but her coach, Kersee, again blasted Torrence for making her accusations.

"I think Gwen can spell and read, and she should comment on who she thinks the runners are," Kersee said. "She is making the biggest mistake of her life. She didn't execute a race. She is a sore loser. Sour grapes."

McKoy was a joyous winner. Four years ago, he ran one heat in the hurdles and pulled out of Seoul in the wake of Johnson's suspension. For that transgression, and an admission of drug use, he was banned by the Canadian Olympic Association.

"I only used drugs for a few months in 1988," he said. "I tried them for a while. I didn't run any faster than previously. It didn't help me."

McKoy served his two-year ban, then moved his family to Wales, where he trained with Colin Jackson of Great Britain.

"I really thought I was finished after 1988," McKoy said. "I owed myself a lot."

Despite McKoy's denials of current drug use, Pierce and Dees expressed ambivalence about him.

"Until proven guilty, I guess you are innocent," said Pierce, who went to Morgan State University.

Asked if McKoy was "clean," Dees said, "I have suspicions about that. You have a guy who is 31, who has been to a few Olympics. It does cross your mind. His age. His past record." And track and field is now caught in a web of athletic "McCarthyism," where rumors are often taken as fact, and past transgressions are constantly dredged up.

"Are we to the point that an athlete can't win a gold medal at the Olympics without this stuff happening?" Kersee said.

The answer, apparently, is yes.

In yesterday's 400-meter semifinals, NCAA champion Quincy Watts won his heat in 43.71 seconds, the second-fastest in history, and he clearly eased up at the finish.

While Watts and defending champion Steve Lewis reached tomorrow's 400 final, teammate Danny Everett, suffering from an injured right Achilles' tendon, limped in last in his semifinal heat.

In the women's 200, Torrence, Carlette Guidry and Michelle Finn all reached the semifinals. Merlene Ottey of Jamaica, a three-time Olympic bronze medalist, had the fastest time of 21.94 seconds -- the best time in the world this year.

In the men's 200, world champion Michael Johnson can no longer be considered the favorite. He advanced to the semifinals, but did not look sharp in either of the first two rounds.

Frankie Fredericks of Namibia, the only man to defeat Johnson in the 200 since May 1990 and a silver medalist in Saturday's 100 meters, was far more impressive in both heats.

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