Frank Shorter races a new marathon against cheaters

He won the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich, finished second in 1976 in Montreal — more on that later — and almost singlehandedly triggered the running revolution of the 1970s.

Now, Frank Shorter is tackling another kind of marathon.

Shorter, 53, is the chairman of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), an independent organization that opened shop last fall to test athletes in and out of competition and to fairly process positive tests so cheaters can't squawk about a rotten system run by corrupt or conflicted sports federations or Olympic committees.

His new job requires "a distance runner's mentality," Shorter said Thursday, in the Twin Cities to promote the opening of a running shoe store. "What you want to be to cheaters is to be the person running on their shoulder, and you're still there and you're smiling at him," Shorter said. "You're not going away."

Established under former White House "drug czar" Barry McCaffrey, USADA — with deterrence its focus — has already busted six athletes in out-of-competition testing, including this week bobsledder John Kasper, the one-time Vikings strength coach, for steroid use.

Funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee and federal government, USADA has a $7 million budget to conduct as many as 5,000 drug tests per year.

Which returns us to 1976. In the biggest disappointment of his career, Shorter lost the Olympic marathon to East Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski by 50 seconds.

In 1998, he received in the mail previously classified documents from the East German secret police, the Stasi. The documents detailed the government-backed sports drug program of the 1970s.

In one memo, dated February 1976, six months before the Olympics, athletes who were part of the drug program are listed.

Number 62 on the list: Cierpinski.

"It all made sense," Shorter said of his initial reaction to the revelation.

Now, 25 years later, Shorter is still chasing cheaters.

Discuss This Article