To however many zillion gold medals the Soviets win in these Olympics, strike one more. It is in the political strong-arm competition. Because they intimidated a 78-year-old man up for 1981 reelection to a post he cherishes, the Soviets very likely won three track and field events they should not have.

Why President Adriaan Paulen, a Hollander, allowed the host country to keep the jury of appeals of the International Amateur Athletic Federation from the Lenin Central Stadium infield until today is understandable. It is also inexcusable. The man ought to be dunked in the nearest steeplechase water pit.

Paulen has been around the athletic block often enough to realize that if you give some judges a measuring stick they'll win the triple jump for one of their athletes. Which is what a lot of knowledgeable witnesses, apparently including some within the IAAF itself, are accusing the Soviets of doing here.

Also, there are accusations that Soviet cheating allowed Dainis Kula to win a javelin competition from which he should have been disqualified after his third throw. And that Soviet officials near the pole-vault pit helped Soviet athletes with wind direction during qualifications.

These charges are almost impossible to prove. Still, it is impossible to forgive Paulen for creating the atmosphere that lets them bloom into a scandal larger than it ought to be.

Maybe Australian Ian Campbell really did foul on the triple jump that would have won the gold medal. Maybe the javelin Kula threw after two fouls really did land tip first instead of tip last. Maybe the officials measured it from the proper point -- instead of a meter farther out. Maybe the Cuban honestly finished behind the Soviet in men's discus.

The point is that if Paulen had insisted the 19-member jury of appeals be able to observe these events close up -- as it has at all previous Olympics -- the cheating charges would have considerably less substance.

A reasonable person might easily dismiss Campbell's cries after the triple jump, for most athletic losers are searching for excuses other than their own lack of talent. But when it became known that Campbell and world record-holder Joao de Oliveira of Brazil had nine fouls called in 12 jumps, even non-cynics snapped to attention.

And when it then became known that only Soviet eyes were judging the jumps it became too much to tolerate. Reportedly, even Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee, became involved in persuading Paulen to finally muster up some courage.

For the events tonight, the jury of appeals was on the infield at last. Paulen even became the first IAAF official on the track, when he took up a position near the pole-vault competition.

The Soviets are playing tough here. They are gracious hosts only so long as they win the proper proportion of medals in the proper events. Women's gymnastics is one of the special prizes -- and judges in the Soviet-influenced Communist bloc could be seen stealing glances at the scoreboard before toting -- to see just what, say, Nelli Kim needed to win.

The Australian protest on behalf of Campbell apparently has not been acted upon yet. Reportedly, there is a film that shows his controversial jump -- and that he does not foul during it.

Paulen was asked to comment on the triple jump during a press conference Sunday and he said, "We have checked the work of the U.S.S.R. judges and we are satisfied -- very satisfied -- with their work."

A day later, at least one IAAF council member was neither satisfied with the Soviets' work nor Paulen's.

"This is a scandal," he said. "How can our members of the jury do their work when they are stopped from entering the field and are sitting in a place where the sun is shining directly in our eyes?"

Paulen apparently protested to the Soviet officials, but yielded. Sources say he was anxious not to create any waves among so many important persons who can help him get reelected. He was first elected in 1976 at age 73.

If Paulen's eyes saw no irregularities earlier in the week, those of veteran field-events watchers did. What infuriated them included:

Kula being allowed to continue in the javelin after his third throw. He had fouled on his first two throws -- and his third seemed to hit with the front point well in the air. This is a foul. It was not called. He kept throwing -- and later had a mark good enough to win.

Measuring the discus throw of Cuban Luis Delis in an odd way. An official placed both feet exactly behind where the discus landed. Then, feet together, he stooped forward and measured the toss from where his knees touched the ground. It cost Delis about two feet. He was third behind a Soviet, by 13 inches.

Swedish pole vaulters charged that Soviet officials lowering a flag to indicate the runway was clear would raise it halfway again for their athletes to show them the direction of the wind and how strong it was.

"The IAAF executive committee could no longer tolerate the situation," the Associated Press quoted sources in the IAAF, "and it imposed a return of its members to the competition site to safeguard the clean handling of the events." The Russians had asked the red jackets to stay off the field because they said their judges would be offended by international controls. "The executive committee was told by Paulen he had accepted the request. But after what has happened we had to act."

One IAAF executive-board member who would be quoted for attribution, Francis Amadeo of Puerto Rico, said "Finally, we were fed up and we told him (Paulen) about it." All but one of the attending members approved sending the officials out on the field, Amadeo said, with Paulen abstaining.

Later, after a meeting to decide the seeding of the marathon Friday, Paulen refused comment to a reporter, saying: "Mr. Amadeo has said all there is to be said."

Under present IAAF regulations, all judges on the field come from the host country. But the jury of appeals supervises their work and reports back to the IAAF board.

"Our very presence in the past has eliminated most of the controversy, because judges would not even try to fix things," another source told AP. "And in any case, we could have the jury of appeals invalidate the event if necessary."

Would it invalidate the triple jump if the film show Campbell did not foul?

Reportedly, De Oliveira walked toward Campbell after the competition and said, "You are the rightful Olympic champion."

Similar condolences presumably are being made to others. But the ultimate blame for this scandal belongs squarely on Paulen's shoulders, for if the Soviets are cheating they are following a theory preached throughout sport: "we'll take what you give us."