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Steve Buffery

This is a personal challenge to Dick Pound, Montreal lawyer and International Olympic Committee bagman: you performed your duties admirably on behalf of the IOC by negotiating sweetheart billion-dollar TV deals; now it's time to do your duty on behalf of your country.

Sure, you might lose points with your boss, Juan Antonio Samaranch. You may even jeopardize your chances of becoming the next IOC president when Samaranch finally decides to take a real job and retire. But rocking the boat has never bothered you before.

At the next meeting of the IOC executive, stand up and say that it's time, once and for all, to wash away the stench left behind by athletes from the former East Germany. It has been proved time and time again that the vast majority of East Germany's top athletes used performance-enhancing drugs at Olympics during the 1970s and '80s.

For years, athletes and officials from the former GDR have admitted to systematic drug use. An Associated Press article this week revealed that East German officials administered banned substances to their athletes during the 1976 Montreal Olympics at a clandestine medical centre set up by that country's secret police just outside the Olympic village. When those Games ended, Stasi agents sank "10 suitcases with drugs, needles and tubes in the St. Lawrence River."

The East Germans, especially those giant "female" swimmers, won gold after gold and set numerous world records in '76many times at the expense of host Canada. What's particularly tragic about the Montreal Games is, to this day, the Canadian team's efforts there are generally perceived as a dismal failure, as Canada became the only host nation not to win a gold medal.

In truth, Canada's swimming sweetheart, 13-year-old Nancy Garapick, should have come away with two gold medals in the backstroke. Instead of winning two golds and being hailed as a national icon, Garapick sobbed after winning two bronze: "I'm sorry I let everybody down."

East Germany's Ulrike Richter, who bagged a pair of golds at Garapick's expense, once was described by Canadian coach Byron MacDonald as a girl "who could have played linebacker somewhere." Another East German, Birgit Treiber, who won two silvers in the backstroke, was huge as well.

And talk about a cruel twist of fate. When Angella Issajenko lost her 60-metre world mark after testifying about drug use at the 1989 Dubin inquiry, it was awarded to Marita Koch of the GDR, who once complained to the media that teammate Barbel Wockel was getting larger doses of steroids than she was.

It's high time somebody at the IOC took the initiative and demanded a hearing into this mess. Pound seems to be the perfect man for the job.

Four years ago, when Montreal synchro swimmer Sylvie Frechette was robbed because of a judging screw-up at the '92 Games, Pound fought successfully to have the IOC award her a belated gold medal.

Dick, you've done it once before. You're an honourable guy and a proud Canadian. Let's do it again. Give Garapick and teammate Cheryl Gibson their long-deserved gold medals.

This article first appeared in the November 8, 1996 edition of The Toronto Sun. It is reprinted with the author's and The Toronto Sun's permission.

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