Butch Reynolds

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Butch Reynolds
Personal information
Born (1964-06-08) June 8, 1964 (age 49)
Akron, Ohio

Harry "Butch" Reynolds (born June 8, 1964) is an American former track and field athlete who competed in the 400 meter dash. He held the world record for the event for eleven years with his personal best time of 43.29 seconds set in 1988. That year he was the silver medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics (behind Steve Lewis) and a relay gold medalist. He was banned for drug use for two years by the IAAF, following an unsuccessful legal appeal.

On his competitive return he became the 1993 World Indoor Champion and won two successive 400 m silver medals at the World Championships in Athletics. He also enjoyed success with the 4×400 meter relay team, winning the world title three times in his career with the United States (1987, 1993, 1995). His team's time of 2:54.29 minutes at the 1993 World Championships in Athletics is the current world record. Reynolds remains the second fastest of all-time in the 400 m after Michael Johnson.

Career[edit]

Reynolds was born in Akron, Ohio. On August 17, 1988, aged 24, he set a 400 meters world record with 43.29 seconds, smashing Lee Evans' 19-years-and-10-months old world record by 0.57 seconds. This record stood for eleven years nine days and was broken by Michael Johnson (43.18) in August 1999 — the current world record. Reynolds remains the second fastest of all-time over the distance, and Olympic champions Jeremy Wariner, Quincy Watts and LaShawn Merritt are the only others to have come within a half a second of his best mark.[1]

He won a silver medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics in the 400 meters and a gold medal in the 4 x 400 m relay. In the IAAF World Championships in Athletics he won a bronze medal in 1987, and silver medals in 1993 and 1995. He also won gold medals on the 4 x 400 metre relays in 1987, 1993 and 1995. The 1993 World Championship team with Andrew Valmon, Watts and Johnson still holds the World Record for the relay.

In the 1996 American Olympic trials he finished second behind Michael Johnson, clocking 43.91, the fastest non-winning 400 meters performance ever. However, in the 1996 Summer Olympics semifinal, he suffered a hamstring injury, failed to qualify for the final, and also had to withdraw from the relay team.

He retired after the 1999 season. Reynolds has since established the Butch Reynolds Care for Kids Foundation and was the speed coach for the Ohio State University football team up until his resignation in April, 2008.

Drug suspension[edit]

Butch Reynolds was suspended for two years by the IAAF for alleged illegal drug use in 1990. This was the start of a long legal fight, after which the US Supreme Court ordered the United States Olympic Committee to allow him to participate in the 1992 American Olympic trials, after finding the testing procedures were flawed from the beginning. Testers had marked specimen "H6" as testing positive while Reynolds' urine specimen was "H5". Lab director Jean-Pierre LaFarge claimed in court that, in spite of the markings, the technician had told him that specimen "H5" was the positive one. Yet "H6" was circled on two separate documents by the technician.[2]

This injunction brought American law and equity into conflict with the rules of International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which prohibited suspended athletes from competing. In fact, the IAAF threatened to suspend any athlete that competed against Butch Reynolds. The American Olympic trial 400 meters heats were postponed for four days, but the IAAF finally backed down. Reynolds finished 5th in the trials, and qualified for a place as a substitute on the American 4 x 400 meters relay team. However, the IAAF (which had administered the flawed test) then banned him from competing in the 1992 Olympics.

That same year Reynolds also won a libel suit against the IAAF, and was awarded $27.3 million in damages. The IAAF stated that the ruling, made in Ohio, had no bearing upon the organisation and was invalid.[3] A federal appeals panel later overturned the verdict on jurisdictional grounds.

Reynolds alleged when he threatened to seek a judicial review, he was warned that if he did, the IAAF would seek a bigger penalty to prevent participation in the following Olympic Games.

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