Dick fights drugs claim

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Frank Dick responded vigorously yesterday to newspaper allegations that he turned a blind eye to drug-taking while he was director of coaching of British athletics.

Dick, who held the post from 1979-1994, was accused in a report in the Sunday Times, as was Jimmy Ledingham, GP, who was doctor to the British Olympic men's team between 1979 and 1987. The allegations are laid by Drew McMaster, the Scottish sprinter who won a Commonwealth relay gold in 1978 and who admits he took steroids before and after those Games.

Dick, who plans to take legal action, is said to have failed to report the cheats because he did not want to give the sport "a bad name.''

"There is no truth in the allegations made about my involvement in 'acquiescing' to the use of drugs by athletes,'' Dick said. "I have throughout my coaching career, when asked, educated athletes as to how these drugs work and the damage they do whilst also forcefully pointing out that taking such drugs to improve athletic performance is cheating.

"In my opinion such cheats should be banned for life. Explaining things to athletes in this way is not a unique concept, it is the basis of all education today."

Tony Ward, spokesman for the British Athletic Federation, said: "We do not comment on specific allegations of this nature. We are getting a bit tired of being the Aunt Sallies whenever drugs in sport comes up.

"This story is nine years out of date. The matter of drug abuse in the Seventies and early Eighties was dealt with through the independent inquiry set up by the sport in 1987. As a direct result, we introduced some of the toughest testing and punishment measure.

"Our out-of competition-testing is the envy of the athletics world, and should be the envy of other sports in Britain."