ATLANTA -- In a move that appears designed to clear the way for Carl Lewis to be added to the U.S. 4 x 100-meter relay team, Leroy Burrell was scratched yesterday because of what is being called "acute Achilles' tendinitis."
The injury to Burrell, Lewis' longtime training partner, Santa Monica Track Club teammate and fellow Nike endorser, comes at the height of a growing controversy involving Lewis and U.S. men's coach Erv Hunt. The first heat of the relays will be held this morning.
"I feel bad for Leroy," Hunt said yesterday of the former 100-meter record-holder. "I've been involved with him for a number of years. For him not to be given a chance to win a gold medal is disappointing. Our next step is to find someone to take his place."
Though Lewis is not currently listed among a pool of available sprinters -- those who finished in the top four at last month's Olympic trials or attended a relay camp before the Olympics -- there is growing speculation he'll be added.
Lewis, who at 35 won his record-tying ninth Olympic gold medal with his victory in the long jump Monday night, has anchored the relay team to world-record-setting performances in Los Angeles
at the 1984 Olympics and in Barcelona, Spain, four years ago.
The U.S. relay team in Atlanta had been Jon Drummond to Burrell to Mike Marsh to Dennis Mitchell. Alternate Tim Montgomery was to run the first round today in place of Marsh, who will be recovering from yesterday's 200 competition. The other alternates are Jeff Williams and Tim Harden.
Lewis was not on the U.S. roster for today's first round of the relay. But assuming the U.S. squad advances, Lewis could be added for the semifinals tonight or the final tomorrow. Nations must declare the members of their relay teams an hour before each race.
"We'll do whatever is best for the team and the country," said Hunt.
A lot might depend on how the Americans do in the early heats. If they run well, the controversy might fade. But if they don't -- remember 1988, when they dropped the baton -- there will be many taking Lewis' cause.
Pub Date: 8/02/96