A former Carter administration official said yesterday he was shocked to learn that a delegation of U.S. athletes would be competing later this week at a Soviet track and field meet in Leningrad.
Former White House counsel Lloyd N. Cutler, one of the architects of the controversial 1980 Moscow Olympic boycott, said he believed that President Carter's actions extended beyond last year's Olympic Games and were still in effect. That policy, he said, should preclude American athletes from traveling to the U.S.S.R. for a meet scheduled for this Friday and Saturday.
"Our effort (with the Olympic boycott) was to show disapproval of the invasion (of Afghanistan) by not attending events in the Soviet Union. That included cultural events and other sporting events," Cutler said last night, Cutler, now in private practice, added that the Carter White House had quietly discouraged participation in other Soviet-sponsored athletic competitions, including a boxing series, after the Olympic Games.
He said that the athletes, who have been touring Europe on the track circuit and are reported to be en route to the Soviet Union, "are by and large the same U.S. team that would have made up the 1980 Olympic team."
Cutler said the government should be making an effort to block the meet.
"The action did not boycott competing with the Soviets, just traveling to events in the Soviet union," Cutler said. "I would have thought that the policy would continue since the invasion continues.
Officials with the Indianapolis-based The Athletic Congress, which is coordinating this week's event, were unavailable for comment.
However, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs said he was surprised to learn of Cutler's remarks, pointing out that numerous American teams have traveled to the Soviet Union since the Olympic boycott. While the Olympic committee has no direct involvement with this week's Soviet meet, it does sponsor national teams.
"That was a single-shot proposition when the committee voted not to attend the Olympic Games," said Bob Paul, director of communications for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"I was surprised that this is taking place without some effort by the State Department to try to discourage it," Cutler said. "The boycott, after all, was a bipartisan thing, wholly supported at the time by Gov. Reagan."
State Department officials refused to comment yesterday on the meet or on whether Carter's Soviet policy is still in effect.
Cutler added, however, that he did not want to appear to be blaming the Reagan administration for allowing American athletes to attend the upcoming meet.
"I don't blame anybody for anything," Cutler said. "They (the Reagan administration) may be totally ignorant of what is going on."