ORLANDO, FLA., JUNE 11 -- Lefty Driesell today reiterated his belief that his statement last week that cocaine can be a performance-enhancing drug for athletes was taken out of context, and he said he is a strong advocate of across-the-board drug testing for athletes.

Before his opening remarks at a panel discussion entitled, "Drug and Scandal Coverage" at the Associated Press sports editors' annual convention, Driesell issued a written statement that read, in part:

"I am very upset that my efforts to fight drug problems among young people and athletes could be misunderstood in any way. I'm violently opposed to anyone using drugs in general and cocaine in particular . . . Obviously, some athletes at least think cocaine or other drugs may enhance their performance and that's what we've got to fight."

Driesell, an assistant athletic director at Maryland since his forced resignation as the university's basketball coach last fall, has been widely quoted as saying at a seminar on drug abuse last Friday at the Executive Institute for International Sports in Rhode Island that, "If you know how to use it {cocaine} and use it properly, it can make you play better."

A statement from Daniel E. Doyle Jr. of the Executive Institute for International Sports, said Driesell's remark "regarding cocaine enhancing is being taken completely out of context." Doyle said he issued the statement of his own volition and not at Driesell's request.

"I gave a 90-minute antidrug talk and it really upsets me that 30 seconds of it was taken out of context," Driesell said before the APSE panel discussion. "I'm sorry I used one word -- 'properly.' I shouldn't have indicated that there's a proper way to use these kinds of drugs."

Driesell emphasized that perception among some athletes that cocaine could enhance performance was what concerned him and that he in no way meant to imply that it was accepted -- or acceptable -- behavior.

"Why would I be out condoning drugs when one of my best friends and best players {Len Bias} died from drugs?" he said.

Gary McLain. a former Villanova point guard whose first-person article detailing his use of cocaine during the Wildcats' 1984-85 NCAA championship season appeared in Sports Illustrated in March, agreed with Driesell that the perception that cocaine could help a player's performance is the key issue.

"The fact that {some athletes} believe that it is {performance-enhancing} is the problem," said McLain, also a speaker on the APSE panel today. "The rumor {that cocaine enhances play} has been around for a long time, but it's not true . . . During the game, you're sluggish, you're not at your best."

Asked if he had spoken with any Maryland officials today, Driesell said, "First of all, I was not representing the University of Maryland there {in Rhode Island}, so I don't think they have any position on it."

New Maryland Athletic Director Lew Perkins has said he will meet with Driesell on Monday to discuss the matter.