SEOUL — Her voice cracking with emotion, Anita DeFrantz, an International Olympic Committee member from Los Angeles, angrily denounced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson as a coward and said that his actions do not reflect on all Olympic athletes.
"Only a handful of athletes are taking drugs, and for everyone to be discussing it as every single athlete, it's unequivocally not true," she said Tuesday night, 12 hours after the IOC had announced Johnson's forfeiture of his gold medal. The Canadian had won the 100 meters Saturday but later tested positive for an anabolic steroid.
"A few (Olympians) are (using drugs), and we're going to eradicate them from sport," DeFrantz said. "The fastest man in the world is no longer the Olympic champion and never will be again. That's the end of the story."
She said that if the disqualifications of Johnson and six other athletes, including two gold-medal weightlifters from Bulgaria, is a reflection of anything, it is the efficiency of IOC drug testing.
"It's working," she said.
DeFrantz, a 1976 Olympic bronze medalist in rowing, made her comments at a news conference to announce the IOC Athletes Commission's recommendations for curbing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the wake of Johnson's disqualification.
The athletes called for:
--Establishment of unannounced random testing for athletes in training and competition internationally.
--A full inquiry into each doping case, reviewing the involvement of athletes, coaches and administrators and severe penalties for those found guilty.
--Educational programs to teach the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs to athletes, coaches and administrators.
Ken Read, a former Canadian skier, said that the declaration will be presented to sports ministers from throughout the world in a meeting next November at Moscow.
Read said that the Athletes Commission also will recommend that a lifetime ban be imposed against athletes who test positive.
"It's time for athletes to say that (drug use is) cowardly, disgusting and vile, all the things that it is," DeFrantz said.
"The only way for us (athletes) to end it is to end it ourselves. All the testing in the world is not going to catch up with all the new tricks. That's the bottom line. The basic issue is whether athletes have the courage to compete without a crutch."
Asked what her reaction had been when she learned of Johnson's disqualification, DeFrantz said: "An athlete with such stature and who has a following, to find out that he essentially is a coward, that's sad.
"I just don't understand it. I can't imagine being on the starting line and thinking that I might test positive when I cross the finish line. Who needs that stress?"
When it was suggested that some athletes feel they need drugs in order to compete, she said, "That's where courage comes in.
"If we can't trust individual athletes to have integrity, we've lost everything. I hope everyone realizes that we're very sincere about protecting the rights of athletes who want to compete with dignity."
As a Canadian, Read said that he had been shocked and disappointed when he heard the news about Johnson.
"It was one of those things where you say, 'Oh my God, why?' " he said. "He was so important to all of Canada. Ben completely captured the imagination of Canada. We don't have a lot of athletes of that caliber.
"This has hurt the image of all the athletes here. That is one of the most damaging aspects of positive doping tests. The vast majority who are competing for the right reasons are caught in the maelstrom of rumor and innuendo.
"This is a very black mark, a terrible example. That's why I hope that the policies that will come out of this will place strong emphasis on doing something about this. I'm trying to be optimistic. Hopefully something good can come from this."
Another U.S. member of the Athletes Commission, hurdler Edwin Moses of Newport Beach, shared the optimism that athletes, weary of being collectively maligned when one tests positive, will rally around a program of stricter enforcement.
"We have to deal with the reality that there's a cloud over the Olympic Games," he said.
"The reality of it is that athletes know exactly what they have to do not to get caught. It's common knowledge that athletes who get caught simply made a mistake. That's the reality of it.
"We have to break that chain. The IOC has taken a firm, responsible stand in terms of being honest about what the situation really is. Now the opportunity is there to do something once and for all. Everyone is ready to join together and make an effective counterpunch to the problem."