Friday, October 13|
USATF calls event 'regrettable'
NEW YORK -- Track and field's national governing body joined
the four members of the 400-meter relay team Friday in apologizing
for their "disgraceful" display during the Olympics.
The runners on the gold medal team -- Maurice Greene, Jon
Drummond, Bernard Williams and Brian Lewis -- preened and flexed
their muscles while posing during and at the end of their victory
lap. Williams and Lewis wrapped the American flag around their
heads and two of them posed bare-chested.
When they were presented their medals by former Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger, the four continued clowning, with Greene
sticking out his tongue at the cameras.
"Their actions following their victory were not what USATF and
America's Olympic fans have come to expect from their champions,"
USATF chief executive officer Craig Masback said during a
Masback called the behavior "regrettable" and said his group
in the future will have a written policy of what conduct is
expected of athletes.
He and the runners said they have received considerable feedback
since the Oct. 1 race, most of it negative. Drummond -- who is
black, as are the other runners -- said some of the mail was
"racial" and "name-calling."
"I'm very disappointed that people can be that crude," said
Drummond, the team captain, adding he had received 125 to 200
e-mails a day for the first week.
"I would like to apologize for our actions during the postrace
victory lap and during the awards ceremony," he added. "We meant
no disrespect or offense with our actions, and we understand that
our behavior caused pain and anger for many Americans. ...
"Sadly, our gold medal has become a symbol not of hard work
sand victory, but a reminder of disgrace. We are deeply sorry for
any shame we brought to the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee), USATF
and the entire nation.
"We hope through our words and actions in coming months, we
will convince everyone of our character, our respect for the flag,
and our pride in being Americans. We guarantee that what happened
in Sydney will not be repeated."
Drummond added that he was "bewildered" by the reaction to the
team's display. He said one of his main goals in track is to
entertain the crowd, and that's what he thought the team was doing.
He said the spectators at Olympic Stadium not only cheered and
encouraged them, but asked the runners to give them parts of their
"Now, I've been told I've been an embarrassment and a
disgrace," Drummond said. "That hurts."
Greene said the team was caught up in the excitement of winning
a gold medal, the first for each runner except for himself.
"When we finished, we were so overwhelmed, we just lost our
minds," the 100-meter champion, said. "We were not thinking, just
acting. We were doing whatever came to us."
While many were offended, Greene said "some enjoyed everything
"I had just accomplished a long dream," Drummond said. "I had
wanted to be an Olympian since I was 4. To accomplish that dream
was an incredible feeling. I was numb. Every emotion was happening
all at once. It was temporary insanity. I lost touch with
Greene, who had apologized for himself and his teammates shortly
after their antics, again was apologetic.
"We are truly sorry," he said. "I know a lot of people were
He said their celebration could not be equated to an end zone
spike in football because football players do not compete for their
"A flag is not involved in football," he said.
Lewis said the team did not mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and
the response "messed up the joy of winning a gold medal."
"Maybe we went over the edge," he said. "You can't do things
that are disrespectful."
|The USATF didn't feel the behavior of the winning U.S. 4x100 relay team was right.|