Inside The Five Ring Circus is a compelling, first-hand account of the personalities and process that allowed the Olympic Games and international sports to continue as the ultimate meeting-place for athletes from all nations on the Fields of Friendly Strife.
Ollan tells the inside stories of the protest and boycott periods in Olympic history which saw black gloves appear on the victory stand of Mexico City 68 and vicious murders in the village in Munich ’72, followed by boycotts for a twenty year period. He battled the pressure of Jimmy Carter’s efforts to keep Americans out of the Moscow Olympics and felt the threat of the White House for not supporting the boycott. Lloyd Cutler, Cather’s chief counsel, threatened to investigate him for carrying out his job of creating international sports competition with the USSR, Eastern bloc countries and the Cubans.
Performance enhancing drugs, like death, have been around since the ancient Olympics and remain with us today. The inside story of how we got to where we are is being brought to light for the first time. The attitude of many top officials to turn a blind eye only made the situation worse. Unafraid of the wrath of the IOC, USOC or international federations, Ollan took on the task of coordinating the USA team for the Goodwill Games, founded by Ted Turner. The highly-successful competitions provided new avenues of promotion used today by all international sports. Ted was a visionary and backed it up with his money and television network.
OLLAN CASSELL, who grew up in a Virginia coal mining camp, was a star athlete in high school who became a world-class track athlete in college. While serving as an army lieutenant, he won a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo as a member of the U.S. 4×400 meter relay team. In 1965 he joined the staff of the Amateur Athletic Union, at the time the American governing body for 17 sports. Cassell eventually became AAU’s executive director and the U.S. representative to the International Amateur Athletic Federation, track s world governing body. In the wake of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, Cassell oversaw the transition of power from the AAU to The Athletics Congress, the new U.S. governing body known today as USA Track & Field. As chief executive officer of USATF, he led track and field and the Olympics from outdated amateurism to open competition. Elected to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2006, Cassell currently serves as president of the Indiana Olympians Association. He and his wife Cathy raised six children. They reside in Indianapolis.