When high jumper Dwight Stones was reinstated recently by the AAU, he was required to give it the $33,000 he won in a 1977 "Superstars" TV competition.
He lost his amateur status 17 months ago for giving the money to the Desert Oasis Track Club, of which he was the only member, instead of turning it over to the AAU for distribution to track groups.
Stones' deal with the AAU was surprising considering that he once insisted that it had no right to his TV take.
And there were other requirements for his reinstatement, such as withdrawing litigation he initiated against the AAU, making a public statement publicly apologizing for any remarks that might have embarrassed the amateur body.
Could this be the same Dwight Stones who publicly accused the AAU of having hypocritical policies. Was this the Stones who was the flamboyant Muhammad Ali of track and field, who in effect did as he damn well pleased?
Well, yes and no.
Stones appears as brash is ever, but he noted that he is older and wiser now than he was when he was fighting the system. And the system itself has changed, and he said that's one of the main reasons why he decided upon a truce with the AAU.
There was something else, too. Stones was tired of being a martyr and didn't want to forfeit the apparently few competitive years he has left -- including a shot at the 1980 Moscow Olympics -- in a lost cause however justified (to him).
"I spent a lot of time being very bitter about things and saying a lot of outrageous things in hope of discrediting the whole (amateur) system," Stones said in an interview. "It was counter-productive but, at 24 or 25, I hadn't grown up as much as I thought.
"Then Ron Stanko, who, wound up representing me, informed me of rules changes that had taken place, such as providing for endorsements in the sport. I said, 'Hey, wait a minute. Those were the things I was fighting for and now I'm on the outside looking in.'" Stones was refering to a new position by the AAU that allows a track athlete to receive for representing or endorsing a company, as long as the company is a national sponsor of the American track and field program.
"We are now taking money for what we do best in area of consulting." Stones said, "and with dignity. My whole point has the lack of dignity in the sport. Now Marty Liquori has a deal with shoe company, Frank Shorter has something going with a hotel chain and Bill Rodgers is in volved with sporting goods. The effect of the rule change will slowly but surely find its way through the rank and file of the sport.
"I feel I'm responsible for some of the changes. I'm not taking credit for everything but, coincidentally, these are the type of rules changes that I was seeking, albeit I was seeking them in an incorrect way. I was jamming them down people's throats and no one gets positive results by doing that. I found this out at 26."
So Stones, who has figuratively thrumbed his nose at the so-called amateur system, is now apparently working with a group he once mocked.
What about the legal action he brought against the AAU? Why hasn't he pursued it?
"My former counsel sued them under five or six different things," Stones said. "It was for sensationalism, no doubt. We felt that if we got public opionion on our side through all of these transgressions by the AAU, we could get a restraining order and I'd be allowed to compete while the litigation was pending.
"We sued them for involuntary servitude, restraint of trade and all that crap. It was stuff I'd never come up with on my own. It was my counsel further jamming the AAU which, at the time, was fine by me.
"But then it became very evident by our denial of a temporary restraining order against the AAU, and everything else, that we were losing, that we weren't pursuing it in the right way.
"It seemed to me we were spinning our wheels and time was passing me by and it suddenly occurred to me that three or four years could go by before this was actually litigated. Then I would have been a sour-grapes martyr at age 30 without being able to jump anymore. Fortunately, this was pointed out to me by Stanko.
"Then again, who would I be winning against by the time I finally got this to court? By that time, I'd be suing people who didn't have any knowledge or involvement with my suspension. They might have said, 'Gee, we didn't suspend Dwight and we wouldn't have suspended him and the rules have changed.' So it wouldn't have been a victory at all."
Stones said he has missed the sport. During his suspension, he had to be content with practice achievements and occasional one-man exhibitions. He said he jumped 7-4 1/2 in practice last June with a half run and straddled 7-1, a personal best for the flopper stylist.
"Competing by myself was a new experience and I didn't enjoy it," Stones said. "I play off my conpetitors. Then it became painfully evident that I couldn't effect a reinstatement during the summer. So I simply maintained the shape I was in by doing other things. I'm usually competing all summer and didn't have much time for any in-depth workouts.
"So my workouts became more base-oriented than what I ordinarily do in July, August or September. But when I started serious training in October in anticipation of my reinstatement, I was in better shape than I would normally be. It has been a buildup since then and I can't believe how good my training has been."
Although Stones has been out of competition for 17 months, U.S. high jumpers, unlike their European counterparts, have been in a holding pattern.
"This high jump was really garbage this year," Stones said. "The best American mark was 7-5 1/2, which is not in the top 10 marks in the world this year. Now how long has it been since an American hasn't been among the top 10? I think you'd have to go back 20 or 25 years. But my guess is that it has never happened."
Stones' lifetime best is 7-7 1/4 -- an outdoor world record in 1976. Since then only one man. Vladimir Yashchenko of the Soviet Union, has leaped higher. He's the world outdoor (7-8) and indoor (7-8 1-2) record holder.
"The rest of the world has caught onto my act," he said. "In 1976, we didn't have anybody jumping 7-6 1/2 or better. I was the only one. I had the world buffaloed on what a great, athlete I was.
"But the others began dissecting my techniques, my rump, et cetera. There were guys that were better physically equipped than I am and, by enought work and duplicating the positive elements of my technique, they could come up to me.
"Still, no one has been able to come within 30 percent of my overall technique. But their physical ability has made up for what they lack technically. It's not that I'm not capable of regaining the world record and dominating the event. It just won't be as easy as it was 3 1/2 years ago."