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Two More Athletes Test Positive for Marijuana

From News Services
Thursday, Feb. 19, 1998; Page C6

Two more cases of marijuana use have been found in drug tests taken at the Winter Olympics, the Games' top doping official said, but no action will be taken against the unidentified athletes.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission, refused Thursday (Wednesday night EST) to identify the athletes or sports involved.

He said that, while the urine samples were collected here, the findings came in spot checks of two labs other than the Nagano Olympic laboratory, the official drug-testing site for the games.

"We have chosen not to publicize them," he said. "At every Olympics, we have tests sent to laboratories for banned substances. These labs have to provide reliable results in 18 hours. Two of the tests were positive for marijuana."

Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati's gold medal was withdrawn when he tested positive for the drug last week. His medal was reinstated when an arbitration panel said the IOC had failed to follow its own rules governing drug tests. Because of the panel's ruling, no action is planned against others who test positive for marijuana.

Rebagliati claimed the positive finding was a result of second-hand smoke and that he had not used marijuana since last April.

A working group composed of IOC vice presidents de Merode, Pal Schmitt, Dick Pound and Anita DeFrantz and chaired by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch met for the first time Thursday. The group said "adequate provisions prohibiting the use of marijuana and other socially reprehensible drugs should be adopted at the earliest possible time."

De Merode is to submit final proposals for such steps at the next IOC meeting in Sydney.

The IOC currently lists marijuana as a banned substance, but will test for it at the Games only at the request of individual sports. De Merode said not all sports federations have adopted rules regarding the use of marijuana.

"We strongly disapprove of any drugs with a hallucinatory effect," he said. "They can be an impediment to sports performance. These substances are hazardous to health."

Bobek Struggles
Things didn't get any better for Nicole Bobek the day after her disastrous Olympic short program.

The 20-year-old American, who fell to 17th with one of the worst performances of her career, had an equally poor practice Thursday (Wednesday night EST). She fell a dozen times in warm-ups, at one point sobbing and shaking her head as she skated to the sideboards to confer with Coach Christa Fassi.

She cut the 45-minute practice short by seven minutes, then refused to speak with reporters.

Bobek crashed especially hard on her first attempt at a triple flip during warm-ups and seemed stunned. Her next few tries at various triples weren't any more successful.

When she came out of the dressing room, Bobek was with team leader James Disbrow, who had his arm around her. All of the team leaders spent about 15 minutes trying to console her.

Sakic Sprains Knee
Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic suffered a sprained knee ligament during Canada's quarterfinal victory over Kazakhstan and will miss the rest of the men's hockey tournament, Coach Marc Crawford said Thursday.

Sakic, an assistant captain for Canada, will be sidelined for two to six weeks, the team doctor said. He has a goal and two assists in Canada's four Olympic victories.

Tipper Gore Visits
Tipper Gore received a U.S. Olympic team jacket and visited with American athletes on her arrival at the Nagano Games.

"That's cool. It's gorgeous," the wife of Vice President Al Gore said when she was given the jacket at a ceremony Thursday (Wednesday night EST) at the Olympic Village. "Thank you, I love it."

After having her picture taken with the group, Gore got off the stage and took her own picture of the athletes.

She planned to eat lunch with them in the village's cafeteria, then watch the 1,000-meter women's speedskating and attend an evening reception for U.S. athletes.

Among those with Gore are her son, Albert Gore III, and daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff and her husband, Drew Schiff.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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