INDIANAPOLIS, AUG. 13 -- Alaska's chances of hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics were dealt a "major body blow" when the State Department denied a visa to let a Chilean athlete compete in the Pan American Games at Indianapolis, an Olympic official said today.

Richard Pound, vice president of the International Olympic Committee, said IOC members in Latin America will remember the visa denial when they vote on a site for the 1994 Games. "They may hold it against Anchorage just because it's part of the United States," Pound said in a telephone interview from Montreal. Anchorage is one of six cities bidding for the 1994 Winter Games, which will be awarded next summer.

Olympic boosters in Anchorage sought to play down the potential damage caused by the visa controversy. "I think it's too early to tell whether it damages Anchorage's bid," said Rick Nerland, executive vice president of the Anchorage Organizing Committee.

The IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee are upset with the U.S. government for refusing to grant a visa to Francisco Zuniga, a member of the Chilean shooting team. The State Department contends Zuniga was involved with the murders of several antigovernment protesters while working for the Chilean intelligence service.

Canada's Sally Gilbert, a member of the bronze medal-winning 200-meter freestyle relay team, failed her drug test because of a cold medication, Canada's swim coach said today. Coach Tom Johnson said Gilbert's tests following Sunday's event showed evidence of an antihistamine, a banned substance, but officials have said they doubt there will be disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for Mario Vazquez Rana of Mexico, head of the Pan American Sports Organization, said officials decided the amount "was so small they decided not to make it an official case."

Kamie Ethridge of Texas, starting point guard for the U.S. women's basketball team, may miss the rest of the Games, Coach Jody Conradt said. Ethridge, one of the four members of Conradt's undefeated 1986 national championship team on the U.S. roster, was injured Wednesday night when the United States opened defense of its gold medal with a 110-41 victory over Peru.

The injury to Ethridge's right knee was originally diagnosed as a mild ligament sprain but Conradt said there was swelling overnight and "in my opinion, I don't think she'll play here." . . .

The United States' best hope for a gold medal in archery in the 1988 Olympics might be Denise Parker, 13, an eighth-grader from South Jordan, Utah, one of the Games' youngest competitors. Parker, who has been shooting for three years, won in the Pan Am trials.