Some shotputters and discus throwers who were scheduled to compete in the Pepsi Invitational at UCLA June 5 just said no--not to drugs but to the meet's promoter, Al Franken.
After Franken learned last Friday that The Athletics Congress, which governs track and field in the United States, had decided to conduct testing for performance-enhancing drugs at the meet, he said he informed all of the throwers or their coaches.
Not all of them withdrew, but enough did that he was forced to cancel the shotput and the discus throw.
It is hardly a headline item that throwers are using performance enhancers, such as anabolic steroids. They believe they have no choice if they are to continue competing and breaking records. But this episode may indicate that the recent ban against masking agents, substances taken to hide the presence in the system of illegal drugs, has been effective.
A year ago, athletes knew that their drug use would not be detected if they supplemented it with masking agents. But after doctors identified the drugs, most notably Probenecid, various governing bodies, including the International Olympic Committee and the International Amateur Athletic Federation, banned them.
It is a victory for those attempting to eradicate drug use from the sport, although they have been battered enough in the past to know that it is being overturned in a laboratory somewhere.
In fairness to the throwers, they are not the only athletes using drugs.
"We called all the people we thought might have a problem," Franken said, declining to identify anyone. "You hear rumors about certain coaches and their athletes. It's not just the weight people."
Franken said no other athletes have withdrawn.
The losers, in the short term, are those fans who were anticipating a shotput duel between John Brenner and Randy Barnes. Brenner, formerly of UCLA, finished third in last year's World Championships. Barnes, who dropped out of Texas A&M to prepare for the Olympics, has thrown farther than anyone else in the country this year.
Others entered, Franken said, were Greg Tafralis, August Wolf, Ron Backes and Dave Laut.
The field was good enough for Franken to schedule the meet so that the shotputters would have been competing for 20 minutes without any other event, except for the preliminary stages of the pole vault, going on around them.
Franken planned to award $5,250 in prize money for the competition, $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second, $750 for third and $500 for fourth. He also offered bonuses for world and American records.
Carl Lewis, who will run the 100 meters at UCLA, may not attempt to repeat his four gold-medal performance in the Olympic Games at Seoul, South Korea.
When the Olympic schedule was released, the long jump final and the 200-meter quarterfinals were only five minutes apart. Although the IAAF granted a TAC request to delay the long jump final by 55 minutes, that still may not be enough time for Lewis.
If Lewis decides he cannot do both, he will drop the 200, although he still plans to go through the qualifying in that event at the Olympics trials in Indianapolis July 15-23.
Lewis' manager, Joe Douglas of the Santa Monica Track Club, said Lewis might also forgo the sprint relay if he believes it will jeopardize his performances in the 100 and the long jump.
For the second time this year, UCLA's Gail Devers set an American record in the 100-meter hurdles Saturday in the Pacific 10 meet at Westwood. She ran 12.61 seconds, breaking the record of 12.70 that Jackie Joyner-Kersee had run earlier this month in breaking Devers' previous record of 12.71.
Now it's Joyner-Kersee's turn again. She will run the high hurdles at the Bruce Jenner meet Saturday in San Jose, the only U.S. stop on the Mobil Grand Prix circuit.
Bob Kersee, who coaches both women, said Devers' potential is such that he doubts that his wife, Joyner-Kersee, will ever hold the record again unless she breaks it in San Jose.
"This is the last shot Jackie's got at the American record," Kersee said. "If Gail gets her act together, she's going to bring it down to 12.50 or better.
"She's going to have to if she's going to be ready for the Europeans. I told her that 12.61 is just a warmup for most of the Europeans. She can go faster. She's not near her peak."
Bulgaria's Ginka Zagorcheva holds the world record at 12.25.
Track and Field Notes
Mary Slaney needs a qualifying time in the 3,000 meters before she can compete in the Olympic trials at that distance. She probably will get it Saturday in San Jose. . . . Ron Brown, former Ram wide receiver, is scheduled to run his first competitive 100 since 1984 in San Jose. Brown, who will run against Carl Lewis in the 100 at the Pepsi meet, said he believes he can run 9.77 this year. Ben Johnson's world record is 9.83.