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Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Flames and Flickers: Hey, we can get this at home

ESPN.com news services

Belarus has charged U.S. Winter Olympics organizers with not providing enough food to its athletes, and feeding them on McDonald's hamburgers.

Deputy Sports Minister Alexander Grigorov said organizers in Salt Lake City had not fulfilled their obligations to the Belarussian team, which is based 50 miles from the games.

"Our sportsmen are getting sandwiches from McDonald's and various hamburgers. But they need normal meat, fresh fruit juices, hot soup," Grigorov told Reuters in Minsk.

Earlier, Ivan Ryzhenkov, captain of Belarus' Olympic team and who came 30th in the biathlon men's 20-kilometer individual final Monday, said food was a major problem.

Masaaki Kozu
It was an all-out Olympic effort for Japan's Masaaki Kozu, foreground, and another competitor who collapse after finishing the men's 15-kilometer cross-country race.

"The biathletes have not received dinner for three days. We've had trouble with food from the very first day," he told state television from Salt Lake City.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who is also head of Belarus' Olympic Committee and sometimes plays for national hockey team, has filed a formal protest, the sports ministry said.

The spat is the latest in a series of disputes with the United States, which calls Lukashenko "Europe's last dictator" for his authoritarian style and poor rights record in the former Soviet republic.

Not even close
SALT LAKE CITY -- Steroid levels 1,000 times the limit were found in a Latvian bobsledder allowed to compete at the Olympics despite a failed drug test and a series of moves to ban him.

Dr. Christiane Ayot, whose IOC-accredited lab in Montreal ran the test, said the international bobsled federation apparently ignored the results when it imposed a retroactive three-month ban on Sandis Prusis. The ban ended just before Olympic competition.

"I believe they had already made up their mind" and accepted Prusis' argument that the drug was contained in legal food supplements, said Ayot, who is helping the International Olympic Committee's medical commission during the Winter Games.

She also said the chance that Prusis absorbed such a high amount of the drug in contaminated supplements was very small.

"We cannot eliminate the possibility that this level was contained in a supplement, but it would have to be one that was grossly mislabeled, which I doubt," Ayot said, adding that a lack of experience on the part of the federation in handling such cases may have led to the decision.

Track worker gets more than he bargained for
PARK CITY, Utah -- A volunteer track sweeper lost part of his index finger Tuesday night trying to catch an out-of-control luge sled.

Venezuelan luger Iginia Boccalandro lost control of her sled near the end of the first heat. She glanced off one wall, flew back across the track and slammed the other wall as she continued to careen down the ice.

Boccalandro landed face-down on the track and slid headfirst for over 30 yards, her racing suit in tatters as she lay motionless. As track personnel rushed to assist, her sled turned around and was headed back toward her.

Just before the 50-pound sled reached Boccalandro, volunteer Drake Self tried to grab it. The sled flipped over and sliced off the tip of his index finger just below the fingernail. Another volunteer suffered a bruised foot trying to stop the sled, which did not hit Boccalandro.

Self, 49, from Logan, was treated and released from LDS Hospital, said Craig Lehto, director of Utah Olympic Park.

Boccalandro sat up after a few moments and slowly climbed off the track. She was not seriously injured.

Boccalandro, who finished 28th at Nagano, was disqualified for not completing the run.

Security forces remain on high alert
SALT LAKE CITY -- Security forces papered the Olympics with fliers of suspected terrorists and chased false leads Tuesday. At the same time, they emphasized there were no known threats against the games.

Responding to an FBI alert of a possible attack against the United States, Olympic security workers distributed thousands of pictures of suspects and investigated a half dozen leads the pictures generated.

All the leads turned out to be groundless, and FBI agent Don Johnson said there was no evidence the suspects have ever been in the Salt Lake City area.

"We have had sightings here in Utah that all turned out to be false sightings," said Johnson, who heads the FBI's Salt Lake City office.

Olympic security officials got a scare later Tuesday, though, when an environmental sample falsely tested positive for anthrax at Salt Lake International Airport.

A new screening system detected anthrax, and when a subsequent test also came up positive, officials began implementing their emergency response plans.

The samples were taken to a laboratory for more sophisticated testing and came up negative four times, convincing officials the two initial results were wrong. Officials refused to be more specific about the sample or say where it was found at the airport.

"We don't believe this indicates the equipment is faulty at all," said Scott Williams, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health. "These tests are extremely sensitive and we know that at the first level there is the possibility for a false result."

Tooele? Skutumpah? La Verkin? Oh my!
SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City didn't have to look far for a name. It's a city, with a big, salty lake nearby.

Olympic visitors who venture to other parts of Utah, though, may shake their heads at some of the names.

Hockey is in Provo, curling in Ogden and cross-country skiing near Heber. Good thing there are no events in Tooele, Skutumpah or the town of La Verkin.

With its blend of Mormon, American Indian and frontier heritage, Utah prides itself on unusual town names.

Sure, you might find spots like Nipple Creek, Horsethief Canyon and Slagtown elsewhere in the West. But names like Nephi and Lehi -- named for two figures in the Book of Mormon -- are inextricably tied to the local culture.

No one knows that better than John W. Van Cott, author of "Utah Place Names," an exhaustive list on the subject.

"It's fascinating, and once you start it you can't leave it alone," the 91-year-old retired Brigham Young University professor said.

Olympics no time to give up, shows one competitor
PARK CITY, Utah -- Not every great Olympic moment ends with a gold medal. Moguls skier Teppei Noda of Japan offered the latest proof of that Tuesday during a harrowing and courageous trip down the mountain.

Noda, a five-year veteran of the Japanese ski team, caught a nasty bump in the leadup to his first jump in qualifying.

He started falling backward as he approached the first jump. He skidded over the icy takeoff ramp, the side of his neck hitting at an awkward angle as he cleared it.

It was quite a wipeout.

Noda's ski came off in the tangle, but he wasn't ready to give up on the run.

"I did it for honor, and because this is the Olympics," Noda said.

Sidestepping slowly up the hill -- a draining journey almost every skier has made dozens of times -- Noda retrieved the ski and slapped his boot back into the binding.

But this was no walk of shame. The fans were cheering wildly. After all, this is the Olympics, and as much as winning, the thrill of competing, finishing and overcoming obstacles is what it's supposed to be all about.

"I wanted to complete this," Noda said.

After resituating himself, Noda had another false start, veering toward the side of the mountain, outside the course.

He stopped. More cheers.

Then, back onto the course he went, and he completed the second jump, a modest air that drew one of the loudest ovations of the day.

Chemicals spill near athletes' village
SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman was held for observation Tuesday after she spilled a bottle of flammable chemical across an intersection near the athletes' village, the Secret Service said.

The woman, who was not identified, had stolen several bottles of the chemical from University of Utah Medical Center, said Tony Ball, spokesman for the Secret Service.

Her actions were unrelated to the Olympics, but were instead intended to get the attention of her daughter, who worked at the hospital, Ball said.

Due to the proximity to the Olympic Village, the Secret Service was called to the scene. A hazardous materials team from the Salt Lake City Fire Department responded and cleaned up the spill.

Greek official rejects warning from IOC
ATHENS, Greece -- The official in charge of the Athens Games angrily rejected warnings over infrastructure delays and said Greece was not obliged to build roads to please the International Olympic Committee.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, just back from the Salt Lake City Winter Games, also accused the IOC of mistreating Athens.

IOC officials have acknowledged Greece's efforts to make up for three years of lost time but have warned repeatedly that chronic delays have placed the 2004 Games at risk.

"It (the IOC) acts differently toward a country with 10 million people, which thinks it has to defend itself, and it acts differently toward a superpower ... that controls the world. We have to act with greater dignity and efficiency," Venizelos said Tuesday.

Before traveling to the United States, Venizelos had said the Salt Lake City Olympics would be a learning opportunity, primarily about security and promoting Greek heritage.

"The lesson for me is that we do not have to prove anything. We have to do our job with self-confidence and efficiency," Venizelos said.

Atlanta's Olympic bomber still at large
ATLANTA -- More than five years later, the man suspected of carrying out the deadly bombing at the last Olympics held in the United States is still out there, on the run, as far as anyone knows.

But terrorism experts said it is unlikely Eric Robert Rudolph would try to pull off an Olympic bombing in Salt Lake City.

"He was a lone-wolf kind of guy, and he's probably gotten scared off," said Brent Smith, a terrorism expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "He's probably committed the last act he'll ever commit. But you can't bank on that."

On July 27, 1996, a bomb hidden in a knapsack exploded in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 people.

With the Games back in America, authorities admit they are no closer to finding Rudolph, who is also believed to be behind bombings at two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub in the South.

Investigators initially believed the survivalist was hiding in the rugged Appalachians, possibly in western North Carolina. Now they say they do not even know whether he is alive. And though they have no evidence he has left the mountains, investigators say he could be anywhere.

The FBI still lists Rudolph, who would be 35, among its 10 Most Wanted, still classifying him as armed and extremely dangerous. It has offered a $1 million reward for his capture.

'Grandma Luge' has been through plenty so far
PARK CITY, Utah -- When you have battled against cancer and a brain injury, racing down an ice track on a luge at around 72 mph appears easy -- even at the age of 48.

Anne Abernathy of the Virgin Islands prepared to make history as the oldest woman to take part in a Winter Games when she competes in the luge at 48 and 295 days.

They call her 'Grandma Luge'. But 'Lady Luge' or 'Dame Luge' would be more appropriate for a woman who has shown amazing courage.

Abernathy was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer before she began her Olympic career at the 1988 Calgary Games at the age of 34. Last year she had to undergo four months of special treatment after suffering a brain injury in a crash on a track in Germany.

But nothing was going to stop Abernathy competing at her fifth Olympics.

"Overcoming a brain concussion is a piece of cake compared to what I've had to overcome to come here -- because I am a cancer survivor," she said in an interview. "I was diagnosed for cancer before my first Olympics and I have been fighting it off and on since then.

"Just a little knock on the head is nothing compared to the other stuff I have been through. Actually luge helped give me a goal to make it through. I think it is important to have a goal, whatever it is."