CHICAGO - The international track federation said yesterday the U.S. Olympic Committee acted properly in allowing Carl Lewis and seven other athletes to compete at the 1988 Olympic Games after doping controls at the U.S. trials had found traces of banned stimulants in their urine samples.
Upon review this week of documentation received in 1988 about the eight positive findings, the International Association of Athletics Federations committee said the USOC actions were "in accordance with rules and regulations in place at the time."
Those rules, delineated in a March 1988 directive from the International Olympic Committee, called for further investigation of cases in which the stimulants found were below a prescribed level. The USOC determined the amounts involved were so low they indicated inadvertent use rather than use for "the sole purpose of enhancing performance," which called for punishment.
Ephedrine-related stimulants are commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines and herbal supplements.
The cases involving Lewis and fellow 1988 Olympic track champions Joe DeLoach and Andre Phillips were revealed in documents released to two U.S. publications by Wade Exum, the former USOC doping-control officer. Exum has said more than 100 U.S. athletes from 1988-2000 were exonerated of doping positives by the USOC.
The IAAF statement noted the positive findings from the 1988 Olympic track trials found "ephedrine and ephredine-related compounds in low concentration."
USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said the decision validated the USOC's position that it properly had applied the rules that were in place in 1988.
"It also calls into question Mr. Exum's motivation, which he suggested was to make change," Seibel added. "Important changes already have been made."
Exum sued the USOC over his termination, but a judge dismissed the case.
Richard Pound, head of the 4-year-old World Anti-Doping Agency, said he did not understand the action.
"They seem to have satisfied themselves," Pound said. "It would not yet satisfy me."
Philip Hersh is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.