Maricica Puica, the Romanian who won the 1984 Olympic 3,000-meter race in which Mary Decker Slaney and Zola Budd collided, was invited to an "Olympic Replay" race July 20 in London but will not be there because her government will not permit it, British athletics promotions officer Andy Norman said yesterday.
Race organizers sent the invitation by telex to the Romanian Athletic Federation July 3, one day after British journalists asked Puica why she was not running against Slaney and Budd, Norman said.
"You do not invite Eastern Bloc athletes individually," Norman said by telephone from his London office. "They do not have a choice. Their country decides for them, and Romania said, 'No, thank you.' "
Norman received the Romanian federation's answer Wednesday. "They said it was too short notice to include it in her schedule," he said.
However, according to Norman, the Romanian federation knew about the race months ago. "They were told last October about it, but said no then," he said. "They said it would not fit into their athletes' schedules, so we figured there was no point in discussing it again until it was brought up by the journalists."
It is believed that the main reason the Romanians will not allow Puica to run in London is a possible conflict with this weekend's Romanian national championships.
Yet Puica said earlier in the week that she wanted to run in London but had not been invited.
"I feel very sure of myself," said Puica, who easily defeated Budd in a recent 5,000-meter race. "I feel I could win against Mary and Zola."
Sources said they were surprised the federation would have rejected the invitation, in light of Puica's desire to run, since she carries great influence within the federation.
The race will suffer without Puica, Norman said. "Of course, the field is not as good," he said. "Neither (Slaney nor Budd) have been running that well, have they? It's still a good field, but we were planning to get the best."
The British public has not responded well to the Slaney-Budd rematch. As of yesterday -- 10 days before the race at 16,500-seat Crystal Palace stadium -- only 4,000 tickets had been sold, Norman said. The Grand Prix meet, originally scheduled for July 19 only, was expanded to two days a week ago. July 19 is sold out, Norman said. But tickets for July 20 "are not moving very well at all."
Norman also denied reports that Slaney threatened to withdraw if Olympic drug testing, in which the top four finishers are tested, was not used. The London race will use random testing, which is used in all Grand Prix events, Norman said.
"We've had no communication with Mary," Norman said.