Flames and Flickers: Paramedic denied WTC decal

PARK CITY, Utah -- New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris
will be speeding down the skeleton chute at the Olympics. The Twin
Towers won't make the trip with him.

Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and competes for Greece,
said Monday the International Bobsled Federation rejected his
request to race with a picture of the towers and other memorials on
the bottom of his sled.

"They said that's not allowed. That's a political statement,"
he explained.

Voudouris, who ranked 41st on the World Cup tour last season,
approached federation officials "as a courtesy" after arriving at
the Olympics and mentioned the World Trade Center picture.

"They quoted IOC rule No. 61," Voudouris said. "I don't know
what the small print says, but it has to do with the placement of
personal decals."

So he stashed his sled in his room and borrowed a modern, more
expensive model from U.S. racer Trevor Christie, who didn't qualify
for the Olympic team.

"It was like going from a Volkswagen to a Maserati," Voudouris

Meanwhile, Voudouris appealed the decision to the International
Olympic Committee and expects to know more before Wednesday's
races. The IOC bowed to public pressure and allowed American
athletes to carry a flag from the World Trade Center at the opening
ceremony on Feb. 8.

"They have already honored the people from ground zero in the
opening ceremonies with the flag," said International Bobsled
Federation spokeswoman Ingeborg Kollbach.

The bobsled federation doesn't "want to give any part of a
controversy," Kollbach said. The sport, where athletes race
facefirst down a bobsled track, is returning to the Olympics for
the first time since 1948.

The 41-year-old Voudouris was disappointed.

"It's on the underside," he said. "No one's going to see it
unless it flips over."

An IOC spokesman didn't return telephone messages seeking

Voudouris' sled also includes the names of nine victims who
worked for ambulance services, as well as the Star of Life symbol
that adorns ambulances just about anywhere.

Steve Young lending a hand at Olympics
Steve Young's even a triple threat at the

Young, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and a
descendent of Mormon pioneer Brigham Young, was the first volunteer
signed up to help with tasks big and small at the Winter Games.

So far, he's carried Britain's team banner in the parade of
athletes at the opening ceremony and helped warm up the crowd for
pop group Train at the Olympic Medals Plaza.

Monday morning, the work was more mundane. The former Pro Bowl
quarterback was playing paperboy, toting a stack of newspapers
through the lobby of the International Olympic Committee's hotel.

Hearts of gold? Make that crystal
Jamie Sale and David Pelletier weren't the
only ones leaving their special medals ceremony with a new trinket.

After the Canadians accepted their gold medals in a special
awards ceremony Sunday night, they gave co-champions Elena
Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze two white boxes, each containing
a crystal heart.

"Anton and Elena were involved in this against their will, and
so were we," Sale said. "Just to appreciate the sportsmanship
about the entire thing, we thought it was nice to give them a
little something from us."

The Canadians finished second to Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze by
the slimmest of margins in the pairs final Feb. 11. But a French
judge later admitted she'd been pressured to put the Russians

Acknowledging a wrong had been done, the International Olympic
Committee awarded a second gold medal to Sale and Pelletier.

WADA head: Supplement companies fight regulation
SALT LAKE CITY -- The World Anti-Doping Agency criticized
food-supplement makers Monday and urged Olympic sports to avoid
sponsorships with them until there are guarantees the products are

Athletes risk violating rules on banned substances because
supplements aren't covered by federal drug-screening laws, said
Dick Pound, an IOC member from Canada and head of the first
independent agency to oversee drug testing and education in sports.

"You are in a buyer-beware situation," Pound said. "You have
to ask, `Why is the industry fighting so much?' Because they know
that the stuff is creating a doping problem."

An International Olympic Committee study, yet to be completed,
found about 20 percent of more than 600 supplements tested
contained at least small amounts of banned performance enhancers.

Until all supplements are screened for contamination, athletes
and sports bodies should stop signing sponsorship deals, Pound

"I'd be reluctant to have a sponsorship arrangement while the
industry is fighting regulation and offering disinformation," he

Supplements, which can be bought over the counter in health-food
and nutrition stores, have been blamed for a number of drug
positives in recent years, usually involving tests for nandrolone,
a strength-building steroid.

Most recently, U.S. bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic of Toms River,
N.J., was suspended for two years after testing positive for traces
of nandrolone that he believes was in a protein powder his coach
gave him as a meal substitute.

Jovanovic also told an arbitration panel that he used 31
different supplements. The case showed that repeated warnings of
tainted supplements were being ignored, Pound said.

"Those who use nutritional supplements with this knowledge are
either being deliberate or reckless," he said. "It's always the
same: 'I didn't know, someone gave it to me, I got it off the
toilet seat.' We have to eliminate the series of denials."

American Hughes retools free program
SALT LAKE CITY -- Sarah Hughes' free skate program will look
a little different than it has the rest of the season.

Between last month's U.S. nationals and arriving in Salt Lake
City, Hughes and coach Robin Wagner retooled the last 90 seconds of
the program to give it more energy. Instead of a piece from
Rachmaninoff, the program ends to music from Daphnis and Chloe.

"It was really, truly based on wanting to do something new and
fresher," Wagner said. "I just thought that other program
required too much of her emotional energy at the end of the program
to make it go, `Wow!'

"This program pushes her along and adds to the energy of the
music. Hopefully it will bring people out of their seats."

And giving the 16-year-old American something new to do in
practice didn't hurt, either.

"It gives her something fresh to work on at the end of a long
season," Wagner said.

At the Olympics, not every rose has its thorn
Mary Goodro worries that an Olympic athlete
will raise a gold medal high overhead and come down with a bloody

Goodro is one of 16 flower arrangers who de-thorn hundreds of
yellow roses a day for the bouquets presented to Olympic medalists.

Despite wearing thick gloves, she gets her share of nicks.
"We're sacrificing ourselves for the Olympians," she said.

The bouquets hark back to the ancient tradition of presenting an
olive wreath to Olympic winners. Nightly at the Olympic medals
plaza, 25 yellow rosebuds, appropriately named "Golden Gate"
roses, are presented to each medal-winning athlete.

That's the end of a long trip for the roses, which are grown in
Ecuador and shipped to Miami, then trucked to the Olympics.

Presidential, pardon?
Lincolns, Kennedys and Johnsons were
listed as Olympic participants on Presidents Day, a national
holiday in the United States.

Courtney Kennedy of the U.S. women's hockey team hails from
Massachusetts, but isn't part of the political family dynasty.

Andrew Johnson was the name of the 17th president of the United
States, but cross-country skier Andrew Johnson of Greensboro,
Vermont, said he hadn't even thought about Presidents Day and just
planned to spend it training.

Lincoln Dewitt is a skeleton rider from Park City, Utah, with a
presidential nickname: "Honest Abe."

Hometown reviews
Medalists from around the world were being
heralded back home in quite different ways.

Newspapers in China saluted the country's first Winter Olympics
gold ever without saying much about the woman who won it,
speedskater Yang Yang (A).

Italian Daniela Ceccarelli's Super G victory was joyously
celebrated around her country, where she was being compared to the
great Alberto Tomba.

In Norway, a newspaper advertisement congratulating alpine skier
Kjetil Andre Aamodt for his second gold of the games appeared to
violate Olympic rules.

Aamodt's ski and boot supplier paid for the ad, which had a
picture of the skier kissing his skis, with the company's Nordica
logo and a note of thanks. Olympic rules generally prohibit
sponsors printing photographs of athletes and citing their results
during the Games.

"I reacted strongly when I heard about the ad. I have had no
contact with my equipment maker about such marketing, and it was
completely unknown to me that the advertisement was going to be
printed," Aamodt said.

No disciplinary action is likely.

In China, papers ran front-page photos of Yang holding a Chinese
flag, but that was about all the notice she received. The People's
Daily, the Communist Party newspaper with no sports section, called
the win a "historic breakthrough" for China but barely mentioned
the athlete and didn't even list her hometown.

Italy's reaction to the triumph by Ceccarelli was considerably
more personal. Premier Silvio Berlusconi phoned her and newspapers
hailed the "city skier" from the Rome suburb of Rocca Priora.