Ray Brown recently texted me, asking if I had read Doug ( former CEO of USA Track and Field ) Logan’s suggestion that the ban on performance enhancing drugs be lifted. Ray Brown won the national indoor 800 meter championship at least five times in a row and was a fixture on the international circuit for almost a decade. During some of that time I was his coach, and knowing my strong anti sentiments both for Doug and drugs, he knew this would get some sort of heated response from me. So here I go !
One of the very few accurate and honest statements to ever come out of Doug Logan’s mouth was made the Thursday night when he spoke by phone to the Board of Directors of USA Track and Field and said , ” …..I do not know much about track and field.” This admission was made during the ” job interview” as part of a severely flawed selection process that Bill Roe, the then president of USA Track and Field, had engineered . Later, after several serious gaffs and performance pratfalls, Clyde Hart was overheard saying , ” Doug has already admitted he doesn’t know anything about the sport,……and every time he opens his mouth he confirms it.”. Here we are, three years later after Logan was forced out of the job, and he is still demonstrating some of the very same self-serving ignorance that cost him the CEO job at USA Track and Field. What follows are several comments that Doug made recently in SpeedEndurance.COM about which I take serious issue.
During my two year tenure as CEO of USA Track and Field, one of my priorities was to vigorously promote drug- free competition.
Athletes are beneficiaries of many technological innovations that enhance performance. “…..train at altitude….. hyperbaric chamber.” ” If you have a great coach, benefits of stipends……assisted by nutritionists, physios, and sports psychologists:”.( the above being the extra and enhanced benefits, why don’t we just let everyone use what other performance enhancing things they want and sit back and see who wins)
We now live in a society where there are medical solutions to just about any physical problem.
Most importantly, let;s stop making a morality play out of the issue.
To those whom I excoriated for drug use while I was in a position of authority I can only say I did my duty to defend and protect the sport to the best of my ability.
I have changed my views based upon my re-examination of all the factors involved.
I was Head Coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team for 1984. I knew then, and the same is true now,…. the U.S. Olympic medal count automatically and directly goes up as drug use goes down. One of the basic and original motivations for the institutionalizing of drug use,…. by those outside the U.S., was to close the superiority gap held by America. We had better facilities, better coaches, better athletes, and better development competitions than the rest of the world. We still do ! In 1982, knowing this, and being the Director of Track and Field/Cross Country at Stanford University, which is within throwing distance of Hewlett-Packard, the makers of the most sophisticated testing equipment at the time, I approached and talked with some Hewlett-Packard testing personnel. What follows is a paraphrased version of the exchange I had with them as far back as 1982.
You guys are the developers of the gas-spectrometer devices used in testing for drugs. I have been told that athletes and rogue scientists will always be ahead of the game as far as drugs are concerned.
That is definitely is not true ! Every thing that exists in this universe has either a fingerprint and/or foot print that we can detect. We can get down to one part in a billion, and as time and interest dictate, we can get even better than that. There is literally nothing you can put in your body that we can not detect !
Then what do you see as the issue for more effective and efficient drug testing ?
There has to exist a real will to catch these people, backed up by the real money necessary to fund the testing. Given the will and the funding, drugs can basically be counted out as being undetectable.
Now fast forward two decades to 2003. As Chair of the High Performance Division of USA Track and Field, it was my responsibility to develop programs and processes to increase the U.S. medal count from the lowly 14/15 level we had after the drug reductions of 2000,….. to the over 20 count by 2004. The U.S.O.C. was putting a lot of pressure on USA Track and Field to increase its medal count. That being my mission and mandate, I knew the fastest way to increase the medal count for the U.S. was to get involved in activity that would lead to better and more stringent drug testing protocols. In 2003 I was introduced to Dr John Donnelly who was doing cutting edge work with DNA and genetic genome work at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Now it is pretty much understood and accepted that DNA, genetic genome processes are the new miracle break through for the detection and treatment for all sorts of previously unfathomable things body and health issues. Dr Donnelly advised me that he could use his genetic genome processes to test and detect any drug or other performance enhancing elements introduced into the body. We had a committee with Dr Harmon Brown who was the Medical Committee Head for USA Track and Field, Dr Robert Vaughan who also worked at the Tom Landry Center in Dallas who has a doctorate in exercise physiology and was a very successful track and field coach, Sue Humphrey who was chair then of women’s development for USATF was also part of that group. We had already provided Dr Donnelly with some funding to further look into a protocol that would allow us to exploit his science and research to test and detect performance enhancing elements introduced into the body of athletes.
In 2008 and 2009, Doug Logan and I met at least twice face-to-face and also exchanged several e-mails where I pointed out that the best way to increase the medal count for the U.S. was to eliminate drugs. I shared with him the Donnelly genome research and what the Hewlett-Packarrd people had shared with me, and the impact it would have on the detection and deterrence of drug use. I did the same with the person who is essentially the High Performance person for USATF and neither one of them seriously pursued the most promising and advanced avenue for drug detection and elimination. So when Logan states one of his priorities was to promote drug free competition, the answer is clear,…..the most pressing promotion priority he had then, and now,…. is self-promotion !
His comment that athletes already have certain technical and other advantages like superior training conditions, coaches and facilities, so why not allow them to use steroids as well ? The research and investigations that followed the East German drug use on athletes pointed out that 10% or more suffered life threatening consequences, and in some instances premature death. Additionally, a lot of women had some serious health and gender issues in addition to the heart, kidney and liver issues that were pursuant to steroid and drug use by them. His contention that altitude training and having a superior training environment reaches the same level as drug use, with its health and death consequences, is egregiously ignorant and is ample manifestation of the veracity of what Clyde says, which is essentially every time this guy opens his mouth he demonstrates in the most graphic way how little he knows about the sport of track and field.
So for me, unlike Logan, drug use IS a moral issue ! As a coach, it plays on my mind on an almost daily basis as we get reports of athletes either suspected of drug use,….or are actually busted. It is my perception that even with the less than perfect current system in place, we have more drug deterrence and detection than in the past. Those of us in the sport , who know and love the sport, have to take drugs as a drop dead moral issue,…….because that is exactly what it is ! Instead of cowardly excoriating athletes, and later apologizing for it, he should have used his position to pursue the hard science that would have made the excoriating less necessary. The very information and advice given to Doug Logan about drugs, was also shared with the current USATF administration and management team.
Brooks T. Johnson
( 407 ) 758 – 0755