The president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation circles his wagons today and denied charges of irregularities in the judging of track and field events at the Olympic Games here.
Adriaan Paulen, 78, the multilingual Dutchman of means who heads the world governing body of track and field, told a press conference that he was more than satisfied with the standard of judging by Soviet officials, and that studies of videotapes of several controversial events had not substantiated widespread allegations of improprieties.
Paulen said that the IAAF's "Red Jackets" -- members of the 19-person executive council who serve as a jury of appeals in disputes, and are readily identifiable because of their scarlet coats -- had reviewed several complaints and found them to be without foundation.
Specifically, he said, review of videotapes showed that Australian Ian Campbell had committed a foul in the triple jump that he thought should have won him a gold medal.
Nine of the last 12 jumps by non-Soviet contenders were called fouls, arousing suspicions of bias. Campbell claimed his jump was disallowed incorrectly, and the Australian team manager asked for clarification. Paulen said his investigation showed the call in question to be correct.
In several other events won by Soviet athletes, including the javelin and discus, there have been allegations of judging irregularities, including inaccurate measurements that favored Soviet competitors.
Paulen, a familiar figure to track aficionados with his bald pate and practiced air of superiority, said no evidence had been presented to back up these "rumors."
He did acknowledge, however, that Soviet pole vaulters had been detected giving illegal signals on wind conditions to teammates about to vault, telling them when to start.
Paulen said he personally ordered one Soviet vaulter who already had been eliminated, Sergei Kslibaba, of the field Wednesday when he was observed giving signals to teammate Konstantin Volkov.
The IAAF's technical delegates, Artur Takac of Yugoslavia and Fred Holder of Great Britain, who have overseen the selection and training of Soviet track and field judges for the Olympics over a three-year period, said the quality of the judging has been high.
"We are happy with their performance. We have been watching them, and we have seen nothing to complain about," Holder said.
"If there were legitimate complaints, there would be official protests. So far, we have had only two protests from team managers and officials, a very low number for the Olympic Games. This indicates that the athletes are not unhappy with the standard of judging."
It is customary at the Olympics for track and field judging to be done entirely by officials from the host country, but in past Games, the IAAF's "Red Jackets" have been conspicuous on the field in a supervisory capacity, monitoring the judges to avoid any suspicion of hanky-panky or "homerism."
Earlier this year, at the request of the Soviet organizers of the Games, the IAAF agreed to keep its appeal jury off the field in Moscow. Apparently it was felt their presence would "intimidate" and perhaps "humiliate" the Soviet officials. Paulen said he was receptive to the request because of past criticism that the "Red Jackets" were too visible.
For the first five days of track and field competition here, the IAAF officials sat in the stands, or monitored videotape and television cameras, staying out of sight if not entirely out of mind.
Several members claimed that they were too far away to arbitrate disputes effectively, however, and were given seats where the sun in their eyes made it difficult for them to see. Some said they were prevented from going on the field when necessary by Soviet security personnel.
The 19-man council voted Tuesday, over Paulen's objections, to go back to their old system of on-the-field monitoring, following the growing litany of complants that Soviet officials were cheating. The "Red Jackets" were back on the field Wednesday.
Paulen said their return did not indicate IAAF dissatisfaction with the Soviet judges, but was "to protect them from these ugly rumors."
Paulen strenuously denied reports that International Olympic Committee President Lord Killanin had intervened and asked the IAAF to take action. p
Meanwhile, the IOC and the Moscow Olympic Organizing Committee predictably backed the IAAF position.
IOC Director Monique Berlioux said today: "The international federations are responsible for all technical matters. I suppose if there were irregularities, there would have been appeals, and we have heard none."
Vladimir Popov, vice president of MOOC, said of the allegations of biased judging: "These reports do not correspond to reality . . . this is a strange mixture of fantasy and simple sports illiteracy."
Many neutral observers remained skeptical, however, pointing out that the IAAF, IOC, and MOOC all have a vested interest in saving face and dispellng suspicion about the integrity of the Games. Moreover, Paulen -- who is seeking reelection next year -- is counting heavily on Soviet Bloc support and does not want to antagonize the Soviet sports community.
Some track and field authorities were dissatisfied with the IAAF's explanations, particularly of the disputes in the triple jump, discus and javelin. All of these were reviewed using replays from Soviet television, rather than cameras placed strategically for monitoring fouls and measurements. r
The well-exercised argument that the scarcity of official protests indicate satisfaction with the judging also is suspect, since the complexity of the appeal procedure mitigates against its use.
According to the rules, protests must be filed in writing within 30 minutes of the posting of the result in question. Given the obstacles -- a language barrier, stringent security and the cumbersome nature of Soviet bureaucracy -- it would in many cases be difficult for an athlete to file an official protest within the allotted time.
"The IAAF is stonewalling to avoid embarrassment," said one track and field insider. "But this ruckus isn't over yet. There will be a lot of questions about judging asked privately after the Moscow Games."