By ANITA SNOW
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA -- (AP) -- Enraged over allegations that Cuban athletes
who won gold
medals in the Pan American games used drugs, Fidel Castro called for the
International Olympics Committee to investigate and for the athletes be given
back their medals.
``And for much more,'' the Cuba president added during an unusual
appearance, which wrapped up this morning. ``To return the honor of these
scorned athletes. We will not rest until it is achieved.''
Castro asked IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch to form a commission
follow up on Cuba's charges of irregularities in drug tests given to high-jump world
champion Javier Sotomayor and three weightlifting medalists during the recent
Pan Am games in Winnipeg, Canada.
The gold medals taken away from Sotomayor and weightlifters William
and Rolando Delgado, and the silver medal stripped from weightlifter Modesto
Sanchez should be returned, the Cuban president said.
Sotomayor tested positive for cocaine and the weightlifters tested
anabolic steroids during the games.
During the first half of two days of televised hearings, Castro
said Thursday that
Cuba's own drug tests of the three weightlifters showed that none had anabolic
steroids in their bodies.
As for Sotomayor, Castro said he believes that the track and field
not knowingly ingest cocaine and suggested that the drug was introduced in
something he drank shortly before taking the urine test that showed up positive.
``It was all a colossal lie, an infamous and shameful lie, a criminal
merits won through denial, tenacity, consecration and sacrifice,'' the Cuban leader
said during the three-hour appearance on live television Thursday night.
There was no immediate reaction from Samaranch, Pan Am organizing
committee officials or the laboratory in Montreal that conducted the urine tests
Castro claimed were doctored.
On Thursday night, Castro, along with a leading sports official
and a top sports
doctor, said that multiple urine tests of the Cuban weightlifters conducted by
Cuba and sent to three different laboratories in Europe all tested negative for the
anabolic steroid Nandrolone. The tests were conducted four to five days after the
athletes returned to Cuba from the Pan Am Games, Castro said.
Steroids are injected into the body to increase strength and bulk
and can remain
in a person's system for months.
Cuban officials have become increasingly frustrated by what they
believe is an
orchestrated campaign by their enemies to discredit the communist country and
its long respected sports program.
During the Pan Am Games, they complained about Canadian news media,
they joked about and encouraged Cuban athletes to defect.
Last week in Houston, Cuban athletes and sports officials walked
out on the
International Amateur Boxing Association Championships following a disputed
bout that initially gave a Russian fighter a victory over a Cuban.
Four of the five judges who worked the disputed match were suspended
by the executive committee of the AIBA.
Castro asked that the Olympic Committee look into that dispute as well.
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald