Feb. 4. IN A startling statement, a physician who examined swimmer Rick DeMont before the 1972 Olympic Games said the U.S. Olympic Committee had no obligation to report information DeMont had given about using an asthma medication to the International Olympic Committee.
For 29 years, De Mont has maintained that he properly filled out the IOC medical forms and gave them to USOC physicians, whose responsibility it was either to change his medication or to get clearance for him to use Marax, his asthma medication, at the Games in Munich.
Still, Dr. Winston P. Riehl, a New Orleans internist, said he supportd with the IOC and its medical commission on DeMont's 29-year effort to get his gold medal back.
DeMont won the 400-meter freestyle as a 16-year-old in Munich, Germany, but his gold medal was taken away when traces of the banned substance ephedrine showed up in a routine post-race urine test.
The USOC acknowledged this week that DeMont, a life-long asthmatic, had properly disclosed his medical condition and use of the prescription drug Marax, which contained ephedrine, to its doctors.
But "this information was never relayed to the proper authorities at the IOC's medical commission," the USOC said as part of a settlement with DeMont resolving a 1996 lawsuit.
IOC officials, including Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and director general Francois Carrard said they doubted that DeMont will be able to get his medal back. But Pound said the IOC could make a gesture to acknowledge that DeMont was not a deliberate cheater and that his character should not be
impugned. He said he might raise the issue this week at IOC executive board meetings in Dakar, Senegal.
DeMont, now an assistant swimming coach at Arizona, has been fighting to gain recognition for his swimming victory and be absolved of allegations that he cheated.
The USOC said it plans to recognize his athletic and coaching accomplishments at its directors' meeting April 28-29 in San Jose, Calif.
Dr. Stephen Ungerleider, a psychologist and researcher who has assisted DeMont's lawyers on the case for years, said Riehl, one of four doctors then in the USOC medical delegation, wrote in a letter: "I support the review and further discussions with the IOC and its medical commission on the Rick DeMont matter.
"I am aware that Rick DeMont filled out a USOC medical form listing his medications for asthma. I do know that Rick took his Marax for medicinal and therapeutic reasons in accordance with his prescription.
"I have no reason to believe that Marax was used as a
performance-enhancing drug for a swimmer or any other athlete."
Riehl also wrote that he believed DeMont's dis-qualification "was done very quickly and I don't believe that Rick got a fair hearing before the
International Olympic Committee."