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UCLA's John Smith Challenges Francis' Testimony in Toronto

March 03, 1989|JULIE CART

John Smith, the assistant UCLA track and field coach who Wednesday was implicated in the Canadian drug hearings, said he is concerned.

Testimony by sprint coach Charlie Francis implied that Smith had been a supplier of drugs to athletes.

Francis, disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson's coach, said that a former world record-holder at 440 yards had given a bottle of Dianabol, an anabolic steroid, to a prominent female coach who worked with a prominent female sprinter. Francis was apparently referring to Smith, who held the 440 record, former coach Pat Connolly and Evelyn Ashford, the former world record-holder at 100 meters.

"I, John Smith, can refute anything being said, but it's not me alone," Smith said Thursday. "It's about two other dear friends of mine. I want to clear their names. I'm concerned about them. They have stood against this. As long as I've known Pat over the last 20 years, she's been anti-drug."

Smith said he knows Francis and has some sympathy for him in his current predicament.

"I'm not going to take shots at Charlie, he has his own cross to bear," Smith said. "(But) No. 1, I want to clear my name. I want to clear the name of my school. I don't take steroids and I don't advocate my athletes to take them.

"I've never made a public statement about it, but it's been known that I would give my athletes blood tests. When we (the Santa Monica Track Club) go to Europe, the promoters love us. We don't have to make a deal. I train drug-free athletes. That's a fact."

Smith said that the allegations were worse for him and Ashford, because they are still active in the sport. Connolly no longer coaches. "He's messing with my profession," Smith said. "Charlie has nothing to lose by singing his song. Evelyn and I sit here because we are still in the sport. I'd like to meet with him face to face and then we'd deal with it."

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