ROME, SEPT. 5 -- Carl Lewis, who only the night before accused some gold medal winners here in the world track and field championships of using drugs and other controlled substances to improve their performances, tonight won the long jump competition, but landed short of Bob Beamon's 19-year-old world record.
The 26-year-old quadruple gold-medal winner at the last Olympics leapt to victory with a new championship record of 28 feet 5 1/2 inches, his second best jump of the year and the ninth-best jump of all time. Beamon set the record at 29-2 1/2 at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City at a rarefied altitude of 5,000 feet.
Lewis' victory came only minutes after the Soviet Union's Sergei Bubka won the pole vault at 19-2 1/4, then tried twice unsuccessfully to beat his own world record (19-9 1/4) with the bar set at 19-10 1/4. He made two attempts, the first distracted by the blare of the William Tell overture during a victory ceremony, then retired.
The two world-record attempts, however, were nothing for the crowd of 68,000 spectators in Rome's Foro Italico Stadium compared to the successes of local Italian competitors -- Francesco Panetta's decisive championship record victory in the grueling 3,000-meter steeplechase and the surprise bronze medal won by Giovanni Evangelisti in the long jump.
As is their wont, the mostly Italian home audience went wild at each performance, waving Italian flags, cheering, singing soccer fight songs and, in typically poor sportsmanship fashion, hooting and whistling against any competitor who threatened to take the luster off their own.
Evangelisti, however, shrugged off the almost vicious home audience's performance as typical of Roman behavior in local soccer matches. "I don't think it took from my performance," he said later. "In fact, I think the whistling and booing may just have stimulated my competitors' desire to do better."
Lewis, who made his winning jump in the third try, was not fazed by the ugliness that came on the final jump. He termed the crowd reaction "bizarre," but said maybe it was not that different from the nationalistic way American audiences reacted to U.S. victories at Los Angeles during the 1984 Olympics.
"Of course everyone wants to see their own athletes win," Lewis said after the meet.
But the real issue for Lewis, who was second in the 100-meter dash to Canada's Ben Johnson, was the question of drugs and sports.
In an interview on British television Friday, Lewis said that drug use in athletics today is "worse than ever," and that some gold-medal winners here, whom he refused to name, had used new sophisticated "designer drugs." He said the new drugs were created to avoid detection in the tests now administered to medal winners.
"It's really interesting. I feel a strange air at these championships," Lewis said in the interview, televised by ITV of London Friday night. "A lot of people have come from nowhere and are running unbelievably . . . It's worse than ever. There are gold medalists at this meet already that are on drugs."
Today, he also declined to name names, even when asked repeatedly for evidence to support his allegations. "First of all I know for a fact that I'm not the only athlete that knows about drugs being used," Lewis told reporters after his own drug trests were conducted. "Everybody knows about it -- that is the problem."
He said he did not want to point the finger at any specific individuals because the issue was bigger than that, requiring a new approach to stem the continuing use of controlled substances to enhance performance.
"We have always run away from the problem," Lewis said, "We haven't been facing the issue." He said that when he or someone like hurdler Edwin Moses raised the issue in the past, no one, especially not the sports federations, supported them.
To really crack down on drug use among athletes, Lewis said, "is going to put the United States at a disadvantage" against other countries whose athletes also are using the drugs. "But how are we going to clean up the world, without cleaning up the U.S. first?" he asked.
"I'm not bitter or angry at anyone in this sport," Lewis insisted. "But there is a problem, and it is a problem that we must resolve to clean up the sport."
Back on the track, Bubka said he decided not to take his third try at bettering his world mark because, after two failed attempts, he realized he did not have it in him. "I concentrated first of all tonight in winning the gold medal," he said, "I'm happy enough with that. I'll try to beat the world record another time."
In the steeplechase, Panetta set a meet record of 8:08.57 in finishing far ahead of East Germany's Hagen Melzer, who won the silver in 8:10.32. The bronze went to Belgium's William Van Dijck in 8:12.18. American Brian Diemer finished fourth in 8:14.46 and Henry Marsh was sixth in 8:17.78.
Earlier in the day, East Germany's Hartwin Gauder set a meet record in the punishing 50 kilometer walk, 3:40:43. The silver went to his countryman Ronald Weigel, the world-record holder and previous world champion, in 3:41.30 while the Soviet Union's Vyacheslav Ivanenko won the bronze with a time of 3:44.02.
In the women's events, it was a mostly East European day. The Soviet Union's Tatiana Samolenko set a meet record in the 1,500-meter final in 3:58.56, ahead of East Germany's Hildegard Koerner (3:58.67) and Switzerland's Sandra Gasser (3:59.06). The best American was Diana Richburg, who placed eighth in 4:01.79, Linda Shesky was 11th in 4:08.33.
The Soviet Union's Natalia Lisovskaia won the women's shot put with a meet-record throw of 69-8 1/4. Second and third went to East Germans Kathrin Neimke and Ines Mueller with throws of 69-7 and 68-1 1/2, respectively. There were no American women in the shot put final.
In today's semifinal heats for Sunday's relay finals, the U.S. 4x400 relay team set a meet record of 2:59.06. The second semifinal heat was won by Cuba with 3:30.99, followed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union.
On Sunday, the final day of this eight-day meet, finals will be held in the four men's and women's relays, the men's 1,500 meters (including Abde Bile of Somalia and George Mason University), the men's marathon and the 5,000 meters.