A PAIR OF SEPARATE meetings in London and East Berlin could go a long way toward resolving the controversial issue of payment for technically amateur athletes, particularly in track and field.
In London, the British Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) yesterday called for an urgent revision of its rules after reports that "four-figure" payments were being made to track and field stars.
"The rules are in a complete mess," said Derek Cole, who proposed the resolution. Any rules change is not expected until next year, too late to affect British athletes competing in the Olympics.
No one at the AAA meeting called for open competition.
The AAA reportedly was looking into the specific case of alleged under-the-table payments to performers at an international meet in Gateshead, England, last year.
While no names have yet been made public, among the international stars who took part in the track meet were England's Sebastian Coe, world record holder in the mile, and Edwin Moses of the United States, world record holder in the intermediate hurdles.
"If someone has broken the rules, they will be banned," said Aaa Secretary David Shaw, a move that could have tremendous repercussions in this, an Olympic, year.
In East Berlin, another gathering could also have a profound effect on "amateur" track and field.
Major promoters of European meets now are discussing the possibility of forming a series of professional track meets similar to the grad prix circuit in tennis. That could very well mean the end of amateur track and bring on "open" competition.
These developments, as well as the recent ban on high jumper Dwight Stones and his subsequent confessions, have focused increasing attention on the shady side of big-time track and field.
When Stones was declared a professional, it was somewhat ironic that his offense was collecting money from the Superstars, a televised trashsport concoction in which he competed in no track-related events.
Stones won $33,000 and was declared persona non grata after he kept it, rather than distributing one-third shares to the national office of the Amateur Athletic Union, his local AAU chapter and a designated charity.
Yet in six years as a technically pure amateur high jumper, Stones concedes he earned about $200,000, concerning which the only serious inquiry came from the Internal Revenue Service. Stones paid taxes due on his 1973 income, plus a penalty, and made sure he reported future earnings to that organization.
"My best move," Stones once said, "is not my arm movement, my quick knee or my good approach, but that movement (reaching under a table). I'm very quick from the top of the table to there. And I'm not the only one. All the good guys do it."
Though there have been suspensions for professionalism since the turn of the century, on the whole, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) and national governing bodies in the West have chosen to look the other way, even when virtual confessions were tossed in their laps.
In September, 1975, Frank Shorter told the President's Commission on Olympic Sports that "I've looked at the 25 rules (of amateurism) and they can get any one of us if they wanted to. We are all professionals."
The AAU cleared Shorter after he said he had spoken while in "a very emotional state" and did not really mean it.
Shorter has been reluctant to reopen the subject, with good reason. He recently obtained the contract to provide the United States track team with uniforms for the 1980 Olympics. He also is a commentator for NBC telecasts of meets in which he participates.
Additionally, Shorter receives a bundle of greenbacks to appear in Hilton television commercials. He remains an "amateur" because Hilton paid the AAU a $25,000 sponsorship fee and Shorter's Hilton salary is officially designated as being for consulting services.
New Zealand's John Walker, the Olympic 1,500-meter champion, has a similar arrangement with Brooks shoes. It is obviously a rewarding one, since Walker admittedly rejected a $280,000 offer from the International Track Association to turn pro after the Montreal Olympics.
Of course, there are other sources of revenue for athletes than these approved arrangements. The most common is inflated expenses, beyond the legal payments of first-class airline fare and $35 per diem. The real bucks, however, go to a handful of top athletes whose perference in shoes can mean millions to company sales.
The wholesale solicitation of athletes by shoe manufacturers that began in 1968 has not been repeated, but payments to the elite have been escalated.
The biggest payoff of all reportedly went to an athlete who never got to Montreal -- $100,000 front money with $25,000 more promised for an Olympic gold, $25,000 for a world record.
During the World Cup in Montreal last summer, shoe salesmen were plying their trade at the training track during practice sessions.
One of this season's hotshots reportedly received $25,000 to wear a specific shoe, with $1,000 bonuses for world records.
A more common, less rewarding and equally illegal means of earning a living as an amateur is derived from acceptance of excess expenses to compete in meets.
In the most basic form, the athlete makes his profit by economizing. He takes his first-class airline fare from a meet director, plus his $35 per diem for three or four days. Then he either drives to the meet or obtains an economy air ticket, arrives the day of the competition and quickly departs, possibly bunking with friends on his one night in town.
Experienced competitors have refined the method, particularly on European junkets. They obtain a ticket that provides for frequent stopovers, then hit several meet directors for the first-class round-trip fares from home. t
Expense shaving is about the only way to profit in the United States, although one outdoor meet this year reportedly passed out $2,000 payments with invitations to top athletes, $700 to those who filled out the high-quality fields.
In Europe, where meets are sponsored by track clubs bankrolled by corporations and often attract sellout crowds, the pickings are far more lucrative.
Most European meets are staffed by a treasurer in addition to a meet director. The athletes or their coaches negotiate with the treasurer.
After a man has broken enough records, he can count on a fair sum just to put in an appearance. A year ago, Henry Rono smashed world marks in the steeplechase, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. He was in great demand and ran so often that he proved ineffectual much of this year.
Pekka Rinne, the Finn who handles the Kenyan runners on their European travels, told the French paper L'Equipe, "Without a doubt, Rono ran too much last year. After the records at first, but also after the dollars."
Stones, when he held the world record in 1974, managed to hit 25 European meets. The following year, he competed 47 times overall, including a remarkable weekend in which he developed shin splints by jumping in New York Friday, Portland, Ore., Saturday and Philadelphia Monday.
Presumably, Stones was not the only "amateur" athlete who found the post-Olympic trail paved with currency. The ITA waited eagerly to lure the Montreal heroes into pro careers, then found it could not offer enough to persuade anyone to change his status.
Still, a 1978 meet in Edinburgh almost belew the lid off the "amateur" payoffs and it might yet provide the ignition for that inevitable nightmare of suspension.
A number of athletes who had already received their promised espenses demanded and received additional airline tickets. In a Keystone Kops parody, the athletes sprinted onto their plane a few steps ahead of police and avoided arrest for fraud only by successfully claiming the aircraft constituted an international zone with resulting immunity.
The Edinburgh Evening News pursued the story, eventually obtaining and printing expense claim figures from 1975 and 1976 meets.
Those figures generally confirmed the suspected pattern of duplicated airline fares, with top athletes receiving full round-trip expenses from home despite competing in other European cities before and after. New Zealander Dick Quax allegedly was paid for his wife, Pole Irena Szewinska for her husband, sprinter Houston McTear for his coach.
This first public disclosure of expense documents will be discussed at the IAAF meeting in March, when a number of proposals will be presented for altering the present atmosphere of cynicism and hypocrisy.
"The IAAF doesn't want to do anything to degenerate track, but they've got to get a handle on it," said Ollan Cassell, executive director of the AAU "They've either got to make it legal or enforce the rules.
"The IAAF is concerned about it and we're concerned about it in the AAU. The credibility of our organizations has been placed on the line by the press, but they're always saying things have happened that can't be proved. If they have proof, I wish they'd bring it to the proper organization."
The track folks want open competition and they have an ally in Jamaican Herb McKenley, the Olympic gold medalist who is now a coach.
"The hypocrisy bothers me because track and field is my life," said McKenley, who claimed a top runner could make $30,000 in a few weeks in Europe. "It's time to get everything above board, to face facts, to get away from hypocrisy. Next year I'll be a delegate to the IAAF and I plan to lead the fight in clearing this up. It has to be faced."
Bob Kane, president of the USOC, does not foresee the advent of open track and, should the IAAF permit it, he is certain anyone accepting money will be barred from the most prestigious of all track meets, the Olympic Games.
"The IOC will never permit open competition," Kane said. "That would destroy the Games as they are now. There are very few countries of the 135 who would vote for having pro athletes in the competition.
"If certain people and certain promoters in track are cheating, they ought to stop it. Our feeling within the USOC is this. We're going to try as hard as we can to keep our Olympic athletes amateurs."