An angry and emotional Mary Slaney is giving USA Track and Field a month to change its drug-testing procedures and pay her for her lost season or she will take the case to court.
“I think we’ll give them a month,” Slaney said Tuesday. “After that, if I have to, I’ll go into litigation and I’ll take no prisoners.”
Slaney, considered the greatest women’s distance runner in U.S. history, lashed out at those she feels are responsible for her troubles.
Her news conference comments were her first in public since a USA Track and Field doping panel cleared her a week ago of allegations that she used performance-enhancing testosterone.
“It’s taken me this long to be able to stand here and talk about this without crying,” she said. “Last Tuesday, I cried for 6 hours after the whole thing was basically over.”
The panel unanimously agreed with Slaney’s contention that her aberrant testosterone reading at last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials could be explained naturally by such factors as a woman’s natural aging process, menstruation and the taking of birth control pills.
Slaney, 39, said she was requesting telephone records of the five members of the track and field federation’s drug custodial board in an attempt to discover who leaked the fact that she had tested positive for excessive testosterone.
That leak led to her suspension from competition even though she had not been granted a hearing to answer the charges. Under U.S. regulations, athletes who test positive for banned substances are not supposed to be identified publicly until the doping panel hearing.
Slaney said she wants whoever leaked her name to the media to be “absolutely banned from the sport. That’s what they tried to do to me.”
“I think when the leak happened, whether it was by one person or several, it was done vindictively,” Slaney said. “Why else would somebody do it? The word that comes to mind is jealousy.”
After the leak, the International Amateur Athletic Federation suspended Slaney, saying USA Track and Field had taken too long to resolve the case. USA Track and Field followed suit, banning her from running just before the U.S. championships.
That ended her comeback hopes for qualifying for the World Championships.
“That is something they can never give back to me,” Slaney said.
USA Track and Field spokesman Pete Cava said the federation had no comment on Slaney’s ultimatum.
Slaney would not say how much money she would seek, but her husband, Richard, said it would be at least six figures.
Slaney’s voice cracked when she talked about the toll it took on her as the case dragged on for more than a year.
“This is the most horrible experience I’ve ever been through,” she said. “It’s far more difficult than what happened in ‘84,” when she tumbled to the infield in the 3,000 meters at the Los Angeles Olympics when her feet became tangled with Zola Budd’s.