DAKAR, Senegal. Feb. 6. THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE reiterated its long-held position today, refusing to offer special recognition to Rick DeMont, the former American swimmer who was stripped of his gold medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, after he tested positive for ephedrine, which was in his prescription for his asthma medication.
DeMont had duly notified the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) of all the medications he was using, but the USOC had failed to pass that information along to the IOC's medical commission. Had it done so, either DeMont's medication would have been approved or an alternate asthma medication specified.
Last week, the USOC said it would recognize DeMont at its board meeting in April in a gesture intended to clear his name and acknowledge that he was not a drug cheat. The USOC decision was part of a settlement DeMont brought against that organization in 1996.
DeMont, 44, now an assistant coach at the University of
Arizona, hoped the IOC would consider restoring his gold medal or at least offer some form of official acknowledgment that he was not an intentional doper. But the IOC's legal commission ruled out any action today.
Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, head of the World
Anti-Doping Agency, said he raised the issue of recognizing DeMont at the meeting but found no support.
"The juridical commission didn't consider it very long and was not inclined to recommend anything further," he said. "I ran it up the flag pole and nobody saluted."
Pound lamented that DeMont had been listed by an Australian newspaper during the Sydney Games as No. 2 on the all-time list of Olympic drug cheats behind Ben Johnson. "That's what motivated me to raise the issue," Pound said. But the commission was concerned about setting a precedent that could lead to dozens of other athletes contesting Olympic results going back many years, he said.
"The commission was inclined to say it was a United States athlete, it's a United States problem, they (the USOC) acknowledged there was no intent,and that's probably enough," Pound said.