The Miami Herald
September 4, 1999
Castro asks for Olympic Committee probe of Pan Am drug scandals

 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 televised
 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 to
 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 Vargas
 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 positive for
 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 champion did
 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 plundering of
 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, saying
 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 Aug. 27
 by the executive committee of the AIBA.

 Castro asked that the Olympic Committee look into that dispute as well.

                     Copyright 1999 Miami Herald