Sprinter Daron Council's college was incorrectly listed in Thursday's editions. He attended Auburn. (RP 1/29/91)

When he goes to work each day, Daron Council dresses up as someone else and lurks in alleys, hawking and purchasing drugs. He survives as a narcotics officer in central Florida by pretending he is something he isn't, and being good at it.

Now, after a long time, a great deal of persistence and a little bit of serendipity, Council finally is recognized both for what he really is and for what he is really good at: sprinting.

Last year, Council, 26, was one of just four sprinters in the world to be ranked in both the 100 and 200 meters. But he is now known not because of that feat, nor because last spring he won a Grand Prix 100 in Helsinki; nor because he won the dash at last year's Mobil 1 meet at George Mason University.

What launched Council into the realm of super sprinter and celebrity was his victory over Ben Johnson in an open 50-meter dash in Canada two weeks ago.

Council defeated the erstwhile world and Olympic champion, who had been banned from running for two years and stripped of his records and titles for admitted steroid use. Before that dash, Council was known best as the training partner of Dennis Mitchell, the man he replaced at the last minute in the Hamilton, Ontario, race.

In 1990, Council was ranked ahead of Mitchell in the world standings. He was ranked eighth in the 100 and ninth in the 200.

"That's the way it is in the world," said Council. "Who knows the fourth-best race car driver? Everyone knows who first is."

"But they'll always know him from now on," said his wife, former NCAA hurdles champion Rosalind Council.

"Everyone knows Mitchell because he's flamboyant . . . and {Andre} Cason is the world university champion and the world junior champion; they had the titles," said Council. "I was kind of in everyone's way. I was the guy who'd have a good performance, but was never looked at as being a big runner."

Indeed, habits die hard. Right after he crossed the finish line in Hamilton, the announcer named Cason as the winner. And Council, although puzzled, was ready to concede.

"I thought I finished ahead of him, but . . . " Council left the thought incomplete; disturbed, perhaps that despite the evidence, he still saw himself in the old way, as just another runner in the race.

That is an understandable attitude. Council chose to persevere in sprinting after college when many others would not have.

"Out of college {Florida}, I was ready to quit running. I had a degree in criminology. I was all set to get a job with the FBI or something like that," he said. "Rosalind wanted to keep running, but I was saying, 'Let's find a job.' That was more my concern. I don't like going into a situation that I don't know. I want it defined and settled. I don't want to go in blind."

But he also did not want to let go of the lifestyle of track: the travel, the camaraderie, the wonderful feeling of being fit.

He trained in Gainesville when he could. A beeper notifying him of drug buys and busts at all hours put running in the do-it-when-you-can category. But things were working out. His job as a deputy sheriff brought in regular pay. He relaxed, trained on a fairly regular basis and kept competing.

But despite all his careful planning and preparation, the Hamilton meet called him as a last-minute replacement. It was exactly the type of situation he doesn't like to find himself in, as a runner or as a narcotics officer -- an unknown situation with a lot at stake.

Council went into the situation blind and came out a "name." Now, he said, he knows what he has to do. "I have to run and run well," he said. "Last year, I competed and ran well, but it didn't mean much. But with the win over Ben, now I have to back it up."