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Iraqi Lifter Flees, Seeks Political Asylum

August 01, 1996|From Times Wire Services

An Iraqi weightlifter who carried his national flag in the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics defected Wednesday and asked for political asylum in the United States, Iraqi opposition officials said.

Raed Ahmed dashed out of the athletes' village when Iraqi team officials weren't looking and was driven off by an accomplice from the Iraqi National Congress, group members said.

"He was running, sweating, and was very afraid and nervous," said Omar Muhamed, a Georgia Tech student and member of the opposition group who helped arrange the defection.

Ahmed was driven to a house in suburban Decatur, where he contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service to request asylum, then met with an attorney.

Muhamed said he made contact with Ahmed last week through a common friend in the United States. Posing as an Argentine to fool Iraqi team officials, Muhamed said he was able to approach Ahmed in the village and hand him a letter offering to help him defect.

Muhamed said he proposed to spirit Ahmed away from his competition venue last week, but the weightlifter first wanted to ensure the safety of his wife, Madiha Mohamad, in Iraq.

Muhamed said he contacted the Iraqi National Congress in London, which arranged for the wife to be moved from Basra to a safe haven in northern Iraq's Kurdish region, where Iraqi forces are barred by international sanctions.


The tribunal hearing a Russian appeal to have two disgraced Olympic medalists reinstated will meet again Friday to try to reach a decision before the Games end, a tribunal official said.

Jean-Philippe Rochat, secretary general of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, said the court had been unable to reach a decision on the doping cases of 200-meter breaststroke swimmer Andrei Korneyev and wrestler Zafar Guliyev. Both the Russians won bronze medals.

Bromantan, the drug found in the two tests, is manufactured by the Russian army and has been abused for years by athletes of the former Soviet Union, according to a top Olympic official.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission, said Russian officials told him that Soviet athletes used bromantan at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.


Irish 5,000-meter runner Marie McMahon tested positive for a banned substance in a pain reliever, team officials said.

The test of the athlete's first urine sample was positive and the second result confirmed the finding, team spokesman David Guiney said.

Guiney said the U.S.-based McMahon apparently took Advil, an over-the-counter pain reliever, for a sore leg.

"Naturally, she is very distressed because she had no intention whatsoever of trying to cheat anybody," he said. "She simply took the tablets as pain killers without realizing they were on the banned list. Of course, it was foolish because she should have checked with the doctor first, but this is an innocent accident and we all very much hope that the IOC take full consideration of that."

IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said he could not comment on any drug tests until a positive case is confirmed. Earlier Wednesday, the IOC said no new positive tests were reported.

Even if both samples were positive, the IOC could determine it was a minor infraction and not a doping case.

McMahon failed to qualify for Sunday's 5,000 final, finishing 14th in her heat Friday. Afterward, she submitted to a random drug test.


All buses were back on the road hours after 40 drivers for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games refused to drive some of the aging vehicles, saying they were unsafe.

The drivers rebelled Tuesday after being told to drive the school buses--with no radios or air conditioners--to the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga., which is one of the longest routes in the ACOG system.

Olympic transportation officials solved the problems by reassigning drivers to other buses that they found acceptable.

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