Maricica Puica, the Romanian who won the memorable Olympic race last year in which Mary Decker Slaney and Zola Budd collided, said she has not been invited to run against them in an "Olympic Replay" 3,000-meter race July 20 in London.
But in a telephone interview with The Washington Post yesterday from Lausanne, Switzerland, Puica said she "would like to run" if the Romanian Athletic Federation would permit it.
British athletic promotions officer Andy Norman was quoted earlier this week as saying Puica had been invited but the Romanian federation rejected the invitation. Earlier in the week, Slaney reportedly "was annoyed" to find out Puica had been invited without assurances that Olympic drug-testing procedures would be in affect. No one from the Romanian federation was available for comment.
Also, it was reported that ABC-TV officials preferred a Slaney-Budd rematch without Puica, who easily defeated Budd in a recent 5,000-meter race. ABC spokesman Irv Brodsky denied that suggestion and said no pressure was put on the promoter of the London race, which ABC will televise live.
It was widely believed that the Romanian federation will not allow Puica to run in London because of a conflict with the Romanian National Championships, where the country's national teams are selected. But that meet is scheduled for this weekend, Puica said. "It doesn't conflict with the race in London," she noted.
Puica said she had not heard of the "Olympic Replay" race until she arrived for a race in Lausanne within the last several days. "The Romanian federation had said nothing about it," she said. Her participation now depends on "an invitation" from London race promoters and a positive response from the Romanian federation. ABC, according to Brodsky, contracted to televise a 3,000-meter race, not a head-to-head confrontation, as some sources maintain the network wanted all along.
Slaney reportedly told race promoters earlier that if they wanted an "Olympic rerun," they would have to use Olympic drug-testing rules, which stipulate that the top four finishers take a urine test. She threatened to withdraw from the race unless her wishes were met.
But Mike Farrell, a spokesman for the Amateur Athletic Association, organizer of the London race, said "there is no way" the first four finishers can be drug-tested.
"This may be an Olympic requirement, but this is not an Olympic race," he told the Associated Press. "Mary Slaney cannot change the rules. We will abide by the International Amateur Athletic Federation regulation on Grand Prix meets, which stipulates random testing only."
Puica said she believes Slaney will defeat Budd, but said if she were running, she would beat them both.
"I feel very sure of myself," Puica said. "I feel I could win against Mary and Zola."
If Puica does not run in London, she will have to wait nearly two months for a meeting with Slaney in Rome, in the IAAF Mobil Grand Prix Final Sept. 7.