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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Author Seeks Access to Olympic Doping Info

AUSTIN (CN) - The University of Texas is denying a sports psychologist access to a "treasure trove" of documents about Olympic history and Olympic doping, which he helped get for the college, the professor claims in court.

Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D., asked Travis County Court for authorization to take pre-suit depositions of communications school dean Roderick Hart, provost Steven Leslie, and vice-provost and libraries director Fred Heath and Chris Hart, manager of the Texas Program for Sports and Media (TPSM).

Known as the Pound Collection on International Sport, the archive contains documents and regalia that show the growth of the Olympic movement during decades under the tenure of Dick Pound, a former vice president of the International Olympic Committee, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency and former chancellor of McGill University in Montreal.

"Chancellor Pound has led the work at the IOC that revolutionized its television and sponsorship contracts, transforming the IOC into a multibillion-dollar enterprise, and headed the internal IOC inquiry into corruption as well as campaigning for stronger drug testing," Ungerleider, of Eugene, Ore., says in the petition.

"Dr. Ungerleider is aware that during his years of association with the IOC and international sports in general, Chancellor Pound accumulated a veritable treasure trove of documents and materials that would be of incalculable value to students, academicians, researchers and writers."

Ungerleider says he is a longtime friend and colleague of Pound. He claims Pound donated the collection to McGill with the intent that it be cataloged, archived and made available for research, but that financial difficulties have prevented its completion.

Seeing an opportunity to help his school, Ungerleider says, he persuaded Pound to loan the collection to UT to complete the cataloguing and other work.

He claims he spent "hundreds of hours over a period of several years" working on the loan, including negotiating with McGill, paying for two law firms to study copyright issues and library exemptions and making arrangements with UT for housing and use of the collection.

"Unfortunately, after the Pound Collection was received by the university and the process of cataloging its contents were underway, disagreements arose between Dr. Ungerleider and others concerning the timeliness of the project and the extent to which materials would be withheld because of copyright or confidentiality concerns," the petition states. "Initially Dr. Ungerleider was permitted to participate in the ongoing review of the collection - frequently consulted by the lawyers and archivists - but thereafter, apparently because of his expressions of displeasure with aspects of the process, Dr. Ungerleider was entirely excluded from access to the materials in the Pound Collection and their ongoing review."

Ungerleider says he has hired an attorney and tried to arrange a meeting with school officials, but they have been "supposedly unable to find a mutually available time." Ungerleider claims that during the months of delays, he has heard "disturbing news" from colleagues who say the school's general counsel's office has disparaged him and is seeking information to be used against him.

In February, Ungerleider says, he was informed that he would be terminated from the Texas Program for Sports and Media at the end of the academic year.

"The TPSM was conceived by Dr. Ungerleider in 2006, and it was his considerable efforts in effectuation of his concept - as well as his significant financial contributions - that led to and resulted in its existence as a prestigious program within the School of Communications," the petition states. "Dr. Ungerleider has been a resident fellow of the TPSM - teaching without pay - and a member of its advisory board since 2010."

Ungerleider says he also has learned that administrators are contacting officials with the school's Harry Ransom Center regarding his unrelated position there.

"Access to relevant research materials is essential for the creation of nonfiction, historical works such as those of Dr. Ungerleider, who has been financially blessed by the monetary fruits of his writing," the petition states. "The university, in turn, has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions - and is the promised recipient of additional hundreds of thousands of dollars in pledged gifts - made possible by Dr. Ungerleider's success in writing books for publication and sale."

Ungerleider says he has been offered a seven-figure contract for a book to be drawn from research on materials in the Pound Collection. He says he fears his termination from the Ransom Center because it carries valuable access to other research materials, as well.

Ungerleider is the author of six books, including "Faust's Gold: Inside the German Doping Machine," which was honored as the Sports Book of the Year in 2001 by Runner's World magazine.

He says his work on the book was documented on ABC's "20/20" news program and the PBS documentary "Doping for Gold," which was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Ungerleider has been chairman of a sports journalism and ethics advisory panel at the school since 2009, according to the UT website. The program will house the Pound Collection, an East German doping collection, and all files related to the recent BALCO drug scandal.

Ungerleider seeks documents and communications regarding his character, reputation, access to the collection and appointment and/or termination from university positions, among other things.

He is represented by T. Ray Guy with Weil Gotshal in Dallas.

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