Buckeyes, Reynolds Know About Bad Raps

By Bill Livingston
Updated: June 20, 2005


Butch Reynolds

COLUMBUS — Nobody focuses like a Buckeyes football player, unless it is the new assistant coach of the Buckeyes football team, Harry “Butch” Reynolds. He can top Eastman Kodak at that.

Reynolds joined the Ohio State football staff at his alma mater recently as the speed, strength and nutrition coach. With backup kicker Jonathan Skeete recently charged with marijuana trafficking and running back Eric Haw cited for smoking a marijuana cigarette, Reynolds might be a natural. He was the at the center of one of track and field’s fiercest drug controversies, the current BALCO steroid abuse mess.

If ever anyone was affected by bad science, it probably was Reynolds, a former Akron Hoban sprinter, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist in the 400 meters and the world record holder in the one-lap gut-buster from 1988-99.

A chain of custody problems occurred with his urine sample, which indicated the presence of nandrolone, a steroid. A notation by the Paris testing lab indicated the positive result belonged to a German female. Reynolds’ body chemistry after the positive did not show characteristics that are associated with use of nandrolone.

“I was bitter, but I had to let it go,” Reynolds said. “It was hard because it was my passion that let me break the world record.”

He fought city hall the same way he ran with his huge strides and powerful body. He gave it all he had.

Against him was the International Amateur Athletics Federation, which used a tactic worthy of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunts, the “contamination rule.” Anyone who competed against Reynolds, who had been exonerated by USA track authorities, would be disqualified, too. Reynolds was an outlaw, tainted beyond repair, because the IAAF said he was.

With an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court, Reynolds ran at the 1992 Olympic Trials in New Orleans in the center ring of a global circus and actually reached the finals before fading to fifth place.

What’s Maurice Clarett, compared to that?

“I faced the worst accusations you can make about a track and field athlete and still competed,” he said. “Adversity can make you stronger. Look at [Green Bay quarterback] Brett Favre. The game he played after his father died was one of his best.”

Reynolds flirted with a tryout at wide receiver with the Browns, but he backed out. “Art Modell owned the team then, and that meant there wasn’t a lot of money on the table,” he said.

At OSU, he could bond with kick returner/wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., a hurdler as well as a 400 man in track.

“Ted can be world-class in the 400,” Reynolds said. “The 400 is about strength, speed and power. So is football.”

The world’s first organized sports were track and field. The ancient Greeks were big on sprinting and discus-throwing. Except in an Olympic year, track and field is mostly seen in this country as the biomechanical building blocks for other sports.

This should be a big focal time for the sport, though, with the U.S. Outdoor Championships starting this week. But the great popularizers, such as Marion Jones, are under drug clouds.

“Track could be big again if we had someone with charisma, like Michael Jordan,” Reynolds said. “Instead, we had Carl Lewis, who was just interested in being ‘King Carl.’ ”

Reynolds submits that he could have been the shining star, until the accusations flew. OSU football players know the feeling.