Ready Room: Rick DeMont
Uploaded on November 18, 2010 by Jason
Rick DeMont was a 16-year-old freestyler who won the 400-meter race at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. He was in the ready room at the pool before the 1500-meter race preparing to capture his second gold medal when his world was turned upside down. Just as he was getting ready to go to the blocks, DeMont was informed that his gold medal performance in the 400-meter race was disallowed because an ingredient in his asthma medication was on the banned substance list and that he would not be able to swim the 1500. It was tough medicine for a 16 year-old. This was the first time that the Olympic Games conducted drug testing and since then, the process has changed considerably. As a chronic asthmatic, he openly used the prescribed medication and clearly indicated the medication on all of the medical forms submitted prior to arriving at the Games. The main ingredient in his medicine, ephedrine, has since been allowed in low dosages. The young DeMont had to watch the breaking of his world record in the 1500-meter freestyle go to a teammate. Amidst all the emotional turmoil, DeMont was the first to congratulate the winner - Mike Burton. With all the media focused on Mark Spitz and the terrorists holding the Israeli team hostage, DeMont left the Olympic Village with his gold medal. The gold medal was demanded back by FINA. DeMont had to return the medal if he ever wanted to compete again. The next year at the World Championships in Belgrade, DeMont showed the world that he was for real, by becoming the first swimmer to ever go under 4:00 in the 400-meter freestyle. Thirty-six years later, DeMont still tries to make sense of the faceless bureaucratic world that left him branded for life.