With drunken driving, 1992 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Viktor Petrenko, near his home in Simsbury, Conn. Petrenko, 34, crashed his Mercedes-Benz SUV into a utility pole and, according to police, failed several field sobriety tests. He refused a breath test, resulting in an automatic suspension of his license for as long as six months. Petrenko, a native of Ukraine, is among a group of figure skaters who moved from former Soviet republics to train in northern Connecticut in the mid-'90s. They became familiar figures at rinks, gliding gracefully among rambunctious youth hockey players and performing at local venues. They have also become regulars on the police blotter for drunken driving offenses. In '97 Oksana Baiul, 1994 Olympic gold medalist from Russia, crashed her Mercedes into a tree in Bloomfield, Conn., and was charged with drunken driving and reckless driving. The charges were dismissed after Baiul completed an alcohol education program. Last
Aug. 31 Alexei Yagudin of Russia, the 2002 Olympic gold medalist, was arrested in Avon and charged with drunk driving. Yagudin, 23, was placed in an alcohol education program, and his arrest will be expunged if he completes the program. Petrenko is due in court on Feb. 9.
By University of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman, a special committee to investigate allegations that the school has used sex parties to lure football recruits. Football coach Gary Barnett and athletic department officials have denied the allegations, which first surfaced publicly in April 2002. But last week Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan, in a deposition for a civil rights suit filed by one of three women who allege they were raped during a party for recruits three years ago, said the university ignored warnings Keenan made in 1997 about the alleged parties. (No criminal charges were ever filed.) Governor Bill Owens said last week he would "take whatever steps are necessary to protect the integrity of the university" if the school does not properly deal with the matter.
Of kidney failure, Eleanor Holm Whalen, 90, the 1932 Olympic 100-meter backstroke champion who was thrown off the '36 U.S. team for carousing with sports-writers on the ship that took the team to Berlin. Winning the gold had brought her a measure of notoriety: She had bit parts in several movies and she sang—in a cowboy hat and a bathing suit—in a band led by her husband at the time, Art Jarrett. But being bounced from the team after breaking curfew by playing dice and drinking with the press made her a celebrity. She starred in Tarzan's Revenge and swam with Johnny Weismuller at Rose's Aquacade during the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Eventually she settled in Miami with her third husband, oil executive Tom Whalen, who died in 1984, and in '99 she was invited to the White House, where she told President Clinton, "You're a good-looking dude." In 1994 she said on CBS, "It all turned out so beautifully, you know, after I got over not winning the gold
medal [in '36]. I had a wonderful time. I've had a wonderful life."
By the Iraqi National Olympic Committee, II officers in what is the country's first step toward fielding a team for the 2004 Games. Last May the IOC suspended the Iraqi committee, which had been run by Saddam Hussein's son Uday—who reportedly kept a torture chamber in the committee headquarters for athletes who underperformed (SI, March 24, 2003). The installation of officers shows "how far Iraq has come in the last nine months," said the committee's new president, Ahmed al-Sammarai, a former basketball and track star who was an Iraqi army general before spending 20 years in exile. The IOC plans to meet as soon as late February to discuss lifting the ban. Said al-Sammarai, "We will build swimming pools and stadiums in place of prisons and torture chambers."