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Toronto Inquiry Learns of Clemson Steroid Use

April 14, 1989|From Staff and Wire Reports

TORONTO — Sprinter and long jumper Dave McKnight said Thursday that he and another Canadian, Desai Williams, took anabolic steroids together while on track scholarships at Clemson University in 1979.

"We used to joke about it; we used to laugh about how big and how strong we were getting," said McKnight, 30, the 10th Canadian track athlete to admit before the Canadian government's inquiry into drug use by athletes that he used banned substances.

McKnight said a Canadian coach at Clemson, Peter Cross, provided the tablets of Dianabol, a popular steroid at the time. When Cross went to Clemson, he recruited Charlie Francis to replace him as a sprint coach at the Scarboro Optimists Club outside Toronto, where Ben Johnson trained.

McKnight said the program at Clemson was the idea of Coach Sam Colson and included at least one other Canadian athlete, Raymond Daley.

Colson and another Clemson coach, Sam Narewski, were fined, ordered to do community service and received suspended jail sentences after pleading guilty in 1985 to seven counts of dispensing steroids and other prescription drugs to university athletes.

Jack Harkness, a former Clemson assistant strength coach, pleaded guilty the next year to two charges of distributing steroids to athletes and was fined $2,000.

The legal action followed an investigation triggered by the death, due to a congenital heart condition, of cross-country runner Augustinius Jaspers, a 1984 Summer Olympian from the Netherlands. He had taken drugs for which he had no prescription.

"We (Clemson) didn't have anything to do with it," Bob Bradley, the university's sports information director, told the Associated Press when asked for a comment on McKnight's testimony.

"You can't look around the corner and see what everybody's doing. They could be taking steroids. It's impossible to put a guard on somebody 24 hours a day. I have no knowledge of athletes at Clemson taking steroids in 1979. All the coaches who were here then are gone."

The Canadians returned to Toronto when Cross left Clemson in 1980. McKnight said he resumed training at the Optimists Club under Francis a year later.

Earlier this week, Williams told the hearing that he experimented with the banned substance only once--briefly in 1987.

Williams also said Francis vowed to "destroy track and field" by implicating others in testimony after Johnson failed a drug test at September's Summer Olympics.

"Desai's testimony is pretty cheap, pretty poor," McKnight said outside the hearing room. "He's reaped all the rewards and now he's just destroyed Chuck."

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