-- Despite an unraveling drug scandal that threatens to strip the U.S. Olympic track and field team of some of its top athletes, U.S. Olympic Committee officials announced on Friday their goal of winning 100 medals at the 2004 Summer Games and leading both the overall medal and gold medal counts.
"We believe the team we put on the field can still achieve that goal even if we were to lose a few athletes before the Games," USOC CEO Jim Scherr said.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency received thousands of documents related to the Bay Area lab BALCO -- which is at the center of a federal steroid investigation -- last weekend from the Senate Commerce Committee and is believed to be building cases against a number of track and field athletes named in the documents.
A source familiar with the documents that were handed over said there appeared to be evidence connecting a number of athletes to the scandal.
"I would say it's going to have a significant impact," the source said. "Some of the names are going to be recognizable."
Four men connected to BALCO have been charged with a variety of federal drug offenses. Many prominent athletes, including track and field stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, have connections to BALCO. Jones and Montgomery have both denied using performance-enhancing drugs. USADA officials have said they would like to take any necessary action before the July 8 start of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials in Sacramento.
USOC officials said the drug scandal has not affected the organization's medal goals, but acknowledged that the surprising failure of several sports to qualify for the Games -- baseball, men's soccer and women's field hockey -- shrank the medal goals from an original 110.
The U.S. team won 97 medals at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and 101 at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The U.S. record total is 174, a number inflated at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles by the absence of the Soviet Union.
USOC officials have secured the training facilities at the American College of Greece in Athens, which USOC officials say resembles the Olympic training centers in Colorado Springs and Chula Vista, Calif., for use by athletes during the Games.
New York Looking Good
The New York group bidding for the 2012 Summer Games is expected to sail through Tuesday's International Olympic Committee decision day in Lausanne. The IOC might cut as many as five cities -- or none -- when it considers the nine bidders: New York; Paris; London; Madrid; Rio de Janeiro; Leipzig, Germany; Istanbul; Moscow and Havana. Whether New York can prevail when the ultimate decision is made in July 2005 is another story entirely.
New York bid founder Dan Doctoroff last week dismissed concerns about the possible negative repercussions of anti-American sentiment connected with U.S. foreign policy when the 125-member IOC votes by secret ballot next year.
"Clearly there is some anti-American sentiment," Doctoroff said. But "we're not talking about a global popularity contest. . . . There are 125 individuals, each of whom has his or her own hierarchy of things that are important to them."
Money in the Bank
The USOC, which on Friday announced a four-year sponsorship renewal with Bank of America, has already secured $405,000 in funding for the 2005-08 quadrennium from 12 companies and broadcast rights, well ahead of sales for the current quad, Scherr said. The USOC's budget for 2001-04 was $490,000 from all sources, a figure that lagged because of the 1999 Salt Lake City Olympic bid scandal.
"We're light years ahead," Scherr said. "We feel pretty good given the issues the organization has faced in the last year."
The USOC is in the midst of a massive organizational restructuring following an ethics and management scandal just over a year ago.