A U.S. Olympic Committee official is suing his employer as a last resort to correct discrimination against him and other disabled athletes.
Mark Shepherd, manager of the committee's Disabled Sports Services and a medalist in wheelchair basketball in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, filed his lawsuit Oct. 22 in U.S. District Court in Denver. He said yesterday the decision to sue was difficult.
"I've risked pretty much everything, and I'm not a crusader," Shepherd said. "But if I don't take this on, who would? I'm hopeful that this will be a wake-up call to the USOC. I tried other methods, but they didn't seem to work."
In his 23-count lawsuit, Shepherd claimed he did not receive the same staff, budget or pay as other senior Olympic officials with similar responsibilities. He also alleged programs for disabled athletes receive less funding and stipends for gold medals.
"They represent their country. They put on the red, white and blue," Shepherd said. "Yet they're not afforded the same services as every other athlete. How long do you keep them at bay?"
The lawsuit calls for an independent investigation of the USOC and seeks at least $11 million in damages as well as court costs.
USOC spokesman Mike Moran said Wednesday that efforts have been made to address the concerns of disabled athletes.
Rose Mum on Gray
Pete Rose doesn't mind talking about his longtime quest to get into the Hall of Fame. The subject of NBC reporter Jim Gray, however, remains a sensitive topic.
Rose was honored yesterday in Baltimore by the Sports Boosters of Maryland as "the greatest ballplayer not in Baseball's Hall of Fame."
After signing autographs for 30 minutes, Rose was approached by reporters before the event formally got underway. He reluctantly agreed to be interviewed, but as soon as the words "Jim Gray" were mentioned, Rose walked away.
Rose's agent, Andrew Vilacky, said of Gray: "He didn't apologize to Pete. It was a [bad] thing to do."
Rose was glad to speak to a local TV station about his rather strange award as the best player not in the Hall of Fame.
"Maybe we get that thing turned around," Rose said. "I understand the importance of the Hall of Fame and what it means to every player. Everyone who plays baseball just wants to make the big leagues, and if enough good things happen, you want to stay in the big leagues.
"Then you start making some all-star games and going to World Series. Then your next goal is to be in the Hall of Fame. I understand the importance of going to the Hall of Fame. For now, though, I'll settle for this."
Schrader Wins Pole
Ken Schrader won his third Busch Series pole of the year, posting the fastest time among the top 25 qualifiers for the inaugural Outback Steakhouse 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Landry in Poor Health
Tom Landry's family confirmed the former Dallas Cowboys coach has not entered remission in his battle against leukemia.
The family released a statement saying Landry was in Baylor University Medical Center "as patients at this stage of treatment are susceptible to infection."
Fleisher Tied for Lead
Bruce Fleisher shot a 5-under 67 to leave him tied with Bruce Summerhays, a shot in front to start the Senior Tour Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. . . .
Davis Love III, the 1997 PGA champion, was named to replace the late Payne Stewart for the 1999 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, to be played November 23-34 at Poipu Bay Resort in Hawaii.
Baysox GM Honored
Bowie Baysox General Manager Jon C. Danos was named the Eastern League's executive of the year. Danos will be given an award Dec. 10 during winter meetings in Anaheim, Calif. . . . Wizards players Mitch Richmond, Ike Austin and Jahidi White were joined yesterday by Wizards front office and Fannie Mae Foundation volunteers and Manna, Inc., to rehabilitate two houses in the Shaw neighborhood in the District that will be sold to low-income families.
CAPTION: George Archer watches tee shot on No. 17 during Senior Tour Championship in which tour rookie Bruce Fleisher, Bruce Summerhays are tied for the lead.