COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Although reluctant to discuss details publicly, U.S. track and field officials informally have talked about moving next summer's Olympic trials from New Orleans if former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is elected governor of Louisiana.
"It's a major concern," said Frank Greenberg, president of the sport's U.S. governing body, The Athletics Congress, in an interview here this weekend during the Olympic Congress of the USA.
But he and other TAC officials would not elaborate on contingency plans, fearing that their comments would be interpreted as an ultimatum by Louisiana voters, who will choose on Nov. 16 between Duke and former governor Edwin Edwards.
It has been speculated that the NFL's threat to remove the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix if Arizona rejected the establishment of an official holiday for Martin Luther King was a factor in the referendum's defeat because voters resented outside interference in state politics. The NFL subsequently took the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix, awarding it to Pasadena.
In the year prior to the Arizona vote, TAC passed a resolution that required states to recognize a Martin Luther King holiday before they could be considered to stage national track and field events.
"Considering our sensitivity on this issue, I don't see any way in hell that we could go to New Orleans for the trials if David Duke is the governor," said one TAC official, who did not want to be identified.
But Herman Frazier, a former elite quarter-miler who is active in TAC, said he would lean toward leaving the trials in New Orleans.
"You shouldn't punish everyone in the state because you don't like the state's chief executive officer," he said. "There are a lot of good people there who are doing good things."
As an assistant athletic director at Arizona State, Frazier, a black, is particularly familiar with the negative impact of the Martin Luther King controversy on his state.
TAC officials said there is an escape clause in the contract they signed last year with the New Orleans organizing committee, but they were not sure it would cover their objections to the governor. Having already begun construction on a $7 million renovation project at the proposed track and field facility, New Orleans officials probably would seek legal recourse to prevent the loss of the trials.
If Duke wins, TAC officials said the issue would be placed on the agenda at their convention, which is scheduled for next month in, not coincidentally, New Orleans.
In response to the conflict-of-interest controversy that led to the resignation in September of former president Robert Helmick, the USOC's 105-member board of directors on Sunday unanimously adopted comprehensive ethics legislation.
The proposal drafted by interim President William Hybl, who was elected to serve the final 14 months of Helmick's four-year term, called for the establishment of a five-member oversight committee to deal with concerns about ethics, disclosure and accountability.
The committee includes Don Porter of Oklahoma City, who, as executive director of the Amateur Softball Assn., will represent the national governing bodies for Olympic and Pan American Games sports; table tennis player Sheila O'Dougherty of Baltimore, who will represent the athletes; and three independent members from the public sector to be named later.
They will report to a special consultant for ethics and conduct, who will review disclosure statements from all USOC officers, board and committee members and senior employees.
The board of directors allocated $100,000 to the oversight committee to implement the legislation before the end of next year.
In other action Sunday, the board of directors:
--Accepted revisions in a contract that will allow Salt Lake City to delay completion of winter sports facilities and divert certain operating costs to the governing bodies for sports that will benefit from them. Salt Lake City, which finished second to Nagano, Japan, in a vote by the International Olympic Committee to determine the site of the 1998 Winter Games, will remain the USOC candidate for 2002.
--Cut $2.3 million from the $93.8 million budget for 1992 in reaction to the sluggish economy. Treasurer LeRoy Walker said the cuts would not affect preparation of athletes for next year's Olympics. "We've trimmed fat, but that hasn't reduced our muscle," he said.
The budget burden was lessened when the NBA agreed to pay for its players to travel with and play for the U.S Olympic team at the 1992 Games.
The NBA also will promote the Olympic team as part of the agreement, USOC deputy secretary general John Krimsky said Sunday.
About 80% of the mail being received by the USOC is from citizens concerned that the Olympic movement will be paying for the NBA players, he said.
"Many of our contributors want to know if the USOC will be supporting the NBA financially," he said, adding that the NBA also will help the USOC generate funds through selling basketball cards featuring former Olympians.