Bob Weiner weighs in on Hightower quitting as USATF board chair

Bob Weiner (left) during Masters Executive Committee meeting at Olathe nationals in 2013.

Bob Weiner (left) during Masters Executive Committee meeting at Olathe nationals in 2013.

I surveyed USATF politics wonks to get their takes on the surprise news that Stephanie Hightower is stepping down as chairman of the USATF Board of Directors. (But she swapped jobs with Steve Miller, the vice chair, so she remains on the board while finishing up her final term as USATF president.) Our masters media maven, Bob Weiner, contributed to my story for Times of San Diego, but I didn’t quote his entire statement. He’s mainly concerned about Miller’s ties to admitted doper Andre Agassi, the tennis legend.

Here’s what Bob told me via email:

Stephanie was enthusiastic and organized, and she gave a lot to the field.  She is excellent speaker and USATF needed her charisma.  I was proud to win the President’s Award from her a few years ago for masters press because I took it as a positive message of the importance of masters track and field. Regardless of my own like of Stephanie, I agree that the will of the vast majority of the delegates as voted was ignored for the IAAF representative position.  That feeling by so many may well have played a role.
My bigger concern is that the new Chair comes from the Andre Agassi Foundation and other Agassi groups on many fronts… they are all over his resume and the USATF release.  Agassi is a fun guy and a known tennis champion but in his autobiography, he admitted taking banned stimulant drugs during his Grand Slam Tournaments and tennis knew and knows but did nothing about it.   As the former spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office, and as someone who helped create WADA and USADA – first USADA Chair Frank Shorter came to my White House farewell and said I created his job – I consider one of USATF’s shining achievements its zero tolerance policy for drug cheating and our testing program as part of its drive for Clean Sport.  I am proud of those.
So my hope is that new Chair Steve Miller will make strong statements to maintain and even expand USATF’s world leadership on drug free sport and will press continuing to test and bust cheaters.
Here from my piece October 16 2014 in the New Jersey Star Ledger:
It’s not just baseball that hides heavy hitters. Andre Agassi, who won eight Grand Slam tennis titles, in his autobiography admitted taking crystal meth during his tournaments. He wrote, “I snort … I’ve never felt such energy.” He tested positive but said his explanation was “filled with lies.” Tennis has done nothing.

Print Friendly

April 15, 2015

One Response

  1. Ken stone - April 16, 2015

    Meanwhile, in far bigger news, Eugene wins 2021 IAAF worlds!

    What masters exhibition events will we see there?

Leave a Reply