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Sen. Hatch on USOC's side? What a joke

February 11, 2010 |  7:41 pm
Hatch_250 I had to laugh when the U.S. OIympic Committee proudly announced Thursday it has Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on its side in the battle to stop what USOC calls "ambush marketing" by Subway and some other companies.

It made me feel the same way I did when Donald Fehr, a steroid stonewaller as head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was part of the Congress-appointed committee to reform the USOC in 2003.

Or the way I felt after I learned that the Governator, former steroid user Arnold Schwarzenegger, was carrying the Olympic torch in Vancouver on Friday.

Sen. Hatch long has fought U.S. Food and Drug Administration monitoring of the dietary supplement companies that have found his state a safe haven. There are more than 100 such manufacturers in Utah, making them one of the state's top five industries.

These are some of the companies whose unregulated supplements can contain unlabeled banned substances that often turn into positive drug tests for Olympic athletes.

Because the companies don't have to label accurately every ingredient in the supplements, anything goes.

Stick an unidentified steroid into a supplement, watch people rave about how strong they feel, see sales boom.

None of that stuff apparently bothers Hatch. But have Subway blur the lines about whether it is an Olympic sponsor in a commercial featuring none other than Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympic swimmer in history, and the senator becomes a white knight.

This is Hatch's statement:

"The Olympic Games embody more than just unrivaled athletic excellence, but also the hopes and dreams of people around this world. This is especially true as we prepare for these next great Olympic Games in Vancouver, where gradually over time unfair and unauthorized marketing of the Olympic Games has undermined the traditions of the Games, the United States Olympic Committee and the official sponsors who provide the financial support to help America's athletes succeed. This activity must stop, and I pledge to work to protect this critical lifeline that insures that our athletes are given every means to win."

Hatch would to a lot more good for Olympic athletes by pledging to stop the unfair and unregulated marketing of supplements.

In the meantime, I'm going to Subway to satisfy my Olympian appetite.

-- Philip Hersh, reporting from Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Sen. Orrin Hatch on 'Face the Nation.' Credit: Karin Cooper / CBS