Document:Bialy interviews Evans

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Running in Circles : an Exclusive Interview about
AIDS & Africa with Hall of Fame Olympic Gold Medalist Lee Evans

6 February 2006
Harvey Bialy


Lee Evans [1] and I have been friends since 1976 when we discovered a common love of fishing at the staff club of the University of Ile-Ife in western Nigeria, where I was a lecturer in microbiology and Lee was the national track coach who used the fine facilities of the relatively new university for his training camp. Over the decades our friendship has grown, and in 2004, shortly after my "very scientific" biography of Peter Duesberg was published, Lee agreed to send a few words about it to Amazon.

Considering his well-known name, it is a little, but only a little, surprising that no one from the media ever noticed it, and out of curiosity at least telephoned to find out what was up with this odd bit of endorsement. [2] Lee was understandably concerned about this eventuality when I asked him to please contribute something (for personal reasons having nothing to do with my imagining his name could be used to sell books -- all, I am holding my sides laughing, profits of which go to the The Virtual Library of Biotechnology for the Americas in any case). But I assured him that the chance of Sports Illustrated calling was almost as slim as contracting HIV [3] from a random sexual encounter with the boys of the Castro of San Francisco or the girls in the hotels of the Ikeja of Lagos, and we even jokingly thought of some artful dodges he might employ in the event of the highly unlikely inquiry ever materializing.

But once again I was optimistic in my estimation of the attention popular media pay to the "HIV/AIDS debate", and the number of inquiries he has received in the 16 months since his "customer review" appeared is exactly the number of AIDS patients cured since the "new disease and its cause" was announced by the US government 26 years ago, i.e. zero.

Very recently, however, Lee decided, for reasons explained below, to allow me to interview him about HIV/AIDS and Africa.

Harvey Bialy: The first question in anyone’s mind who has even glanced at my book online is "did you actually read this?"

Lee Evans: (Laughing). I read it the same way you read Frank Murphy’s new biography of me when we asked you to look at the manuscript. You skimmed the technical parts about hundredths of a second 100 meter splits, and leans and redirecting vertical energy into horizontal movement, etc., and just read the story. And just like Frank’s book did for you, your book brought back a lot of memories for me, and also reminded me the struggles of the 60s are not over even though there are more black millionaires.

HB: Why did you decide that now was the time to go more public (anticipating that this website will be visited more frequently than the Amazon listing for my book)?

LE: I don’t know exactly. Maybe it’s because over the past couple of years I’ve become more cynical about a lot of things. (Laughing) Getting old I guess. But seriously, the more I see what is going on in Washington and with the foreign policy of the United States, the more I’m reminded of the ways the government lied about Viet Nam and the way it messed with Black people, including me (laughing again), during those times. The whole picture fits so well with what you have been telling me about AIDS since "the Motherland is dying from too much sex" became a gold record song, I got angry enough to want to say something about racial politics in this country again after hoping for 35 years something might really change. And then I read the stories of that NIH doctor Fishbein, and a few days ago Bush scared the hell out of me when he said in his sorry State of the Union speech that he wanted a new federal effort to make sure millions more African Americans were tested for HIV! [4] So I decided the next time you asked me to go public I would.

HB: What first made you suspicious of mainstream African AIDS reporting?

LE: I have been all over Africa for almost 30 years and when I first heard there was a new sexually transmitted disease epidemic I was alarmed and began looking for what the television said was everywhere. All I ever saw was more and more of the same diseases we saw in 1975, and it was obvious the increase was because of the worsening living conditions, and the pennies instead of dollars governments were spending on health care. Sure, I have seen TB wards at hospitals and lots of misery, but nobody except the media and the people living off AIDS money ever called that AIDS. And isn’t it true that except for South Africa no country uses an "HIV test" before it names some old disease AIDS? And what’s all this about an epidemic? Even before you showed me the real numbers, I knew nothing had happened in the United States after 20 years of "sexually-transmitted" HIV. And as far as I remember, AIDS was discovered here in the "most sex and number one-loving country in the world". And then they decided it must have come from Africa.

President Mbeki is the only African leader who has said this kind of stuff. Look what the media did to him. But Mbeki was reelected by a 70% majority, and South Africa has the fastest growing economy on the continent. Never mind. The CDC, and Bill Gates and the WHO know the president is a "fool", [5] and the "real" truth is the country is being destroyed by AIDS! (HB: I read Lee this newspaper article [6] and he groans.)

It’s just like in your book where you write about the time Tara [7] had a bad thrush when she was a baby, and that if it had been 1996 instead of 1976 she would have been an AIDS case and you and Margaret stigmatized, etc. I also remember how you went crazy when you discovered the nurse at the health center gave her three or four vaccinations at the same time.

HB: Yeah I remember that too, and now that I do, I think the horrendous reaction she had to them so depleted her infant immune system that a nothing yeast from her mother’s breast became something serious.

HB: Next question. Why do you think there has been such a gigantic misrepresentation/distortion of the facts, and why do you think so many Black Americans have believed these lies when they know the US government has never told them the truth about anything else?

LE: Answering the first part will probably get me called a conspiracy theorist in addition to all the other things I will be called after this interview is published (even though it’s only on this website), but here goes: Sometimes a very mixed bag of interests can become united for different reasons. I think that is what happened with the push to sell AIDS as a new, sexually transmitted disease that started in Africa and was the biggest health threat to the continent. All the people with the "good intentions" of "keeping poor, uncivilized, sex-crazed Africans from killing themselves (again)" could be comfortably in bed with sensationalist, racist media, ITT’s medical division, [8] corrupt politicians and a WHO you told me was so broke it had no money for a malaria vaccine and could give only a few thousand to your research on antibiotic resistant bacteria even though you were working with the biggest name in the field. [9]

To answer the second part of your question, I really don’t know. Maybe it has to do with how sick American culture is and the mixed up thinking of many African Americans when it comes to their self image.

HB: I have to ask you this, if for no other reason than I would guess it will be on the minds of most readers. What about Magic Johnson?

LE: Magic is an individual. AIDS is supposed to be an epidemic. I’m no scientist, but I know epidemics have big numbers.

HB: Last question. Having said all that you have here, what are you going to do now if the media contact you?

LE: I will say that I have had long and painful experience with the way the media is able to twist anything to serve its own ends, and so I will only accept questions in writing, and that any worthwhile ones (with my answers) will be published here. The only media personality who I will discuss these matters further with is Oprah.


10 February 2006
Lee Evans

In the few days since my interview appeared, I have gotten quite a few questions of the "but what about this, and what about that?" kind that made my head spin. In "trying" to answer them, I have come up with this one size fits all answer.

You can find the answer to your "scientific" questions on this website. The chapter about AIDS and Africa from Harvey's book is here and a *lot* of other real deal stuff, especially on the Africa pages. When I read it, it made sense...a lot more sense than the tv and the NY Times. "You" are not a real scientist, neither am I, and for sure neither are any of the talking heads on the tv or the science journalists. It is stupid to pretend that we are, and that we know things we can't possibly know because the media that transmits it to us doesn't know and are only parroting what the government feeds them.

Evans' invitation to attend the United Nations

7 March 2006
Lee Evans

Today I received the following invitation:

"I am pleased to invite you to a special event with Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday, 3 April 2006 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the results of the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005). A reception will follow.

At the ceremony, Adolf Ogi, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, will report on the successes of IYSPE 2005 and encourage building upon the momentum generated by the Year. The event will feature sports celebrities and a performance by award-winning African music star Salif Keita. Guests will include stakeholders who are making sport a key component of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including sports organizations and athletes, Governments, the UN system multilateral organizations, bilateral development agencies, NGOs, the private sector and the media.

We are entering a new phase of more action, more cooperation and more implementation. General Assembly Resolution 60/9 of 3 November 2005 is a strong mandate to expand and strengthen our efforts to fulfil the great potential of Sport for Development and Peace."

My RSVP has already been emailed.

Evans appears on Black Liberation Radio

28 March 2006
Harvey Bialy

This morning Lee was featured on Keidi Awadu's Black Liberation Radio program broadcast during drive time in LA. It can be found at LIBRadio Network.

Evans' Athlete NCAA 1500m champion

10 June 2006
Harvey Bialy

The amazing Evans' touch was on full display in Sacramento this weekend where three African athletes he had recruited to the Univ. of South Alabama qualified for this year's NCAA Track & Field Championships. They all made the finals – Tony Okele (from Uganda) in the 5000 m, Ajoke Oduwasu (from Nigeria) in the women's 400 m hurdles, and Vincent Rono (from Kenya) in the men's 1500 m. Mr. Rono also captured the gold.



  • Head Track and Cross Country Coach Men and Women, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama (2002-present)
  • Assistant Track Coach, University of Washington, Seattle (2000-2002)
Coached 3 qualifying athletes for NCAA Championships, and one who qualified for the 2000 Olympics.
  • National Coach, Antananarivo, Madagascar (1997-1999)
Coached the national team to first place at the 1997 Indian Ocean Games.
  • National Coach, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (1994-1997)
Coached the national team to first place at the 1995 Gulf Championships and the 4x400M relay team to the semifinals in the 1996 Olympics.
  • National Coach, Doha, Qatar (1990-1994)
Coached the first athlete to represent Qatar in the Olympics; the 1500M Bronze medalist, and seventh place 400M sprinters in the 1992 Olympics; developed 1993 Gulf Championship winners.
  • Athletic Director, Special Olympics International, Washington, D.C. (1988-1990)
Organized and implemented training programs for athletes and coaches worldwide; responsible for international competition for 90 countries and 10,000 athletes.
  • National Coach (Fulbright Professor), Yaounde, Cameroun (1986-1988)
Coached three athletes who qualified for the World Championships in 1986 and the 1988 Olympic Games.
  • Program Coordinator, Sports America, U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C. (1982-1984)
  • National Athletics Coach, Lagos, Nigeria (1975-1981)
Coached 15 qualifying Olympians.
  • 1968 Olympic Gold Medal winner, 400M and 4x400M relay
  • World Record holder, 400M, 1968-1988
  • World Record holder, 600M indoor, 1970 to present
  • World Record holder, 4x400M relay, 1968-1993
  • Member, USA Olympic Hall of Fame
  • Member, USA Track and Field Hall of Fame
  • Member, San Francisco Hall of Fame
  • Member, San Jose Hall of Fame
  • Member, San Jose State University Hall of Fame
  • Winner of NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, 1995
  • Coach of the Year, Nigeria, 1979
  • Sprint Coach, All-African Team, World Cup, 1979
  • Selected to 100 Golden Olympians, 1996

Lee’s Customer Review on Amazon

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful: (as of 6 Feb. 2006)

A Mighty Burner , September 7, 2004 Reviewer: Lee Evans (Mobile, Alabama)

A Mighty Burner

From start to finish, this book accelerates like we did at the '68 Mexico City games, and it carries a powerful political message too. Reading it is an antidote for all the mind killing words that are everywhere about HIV/AIDS in Africa and that too many African Americans believe.

Lee E. Evans
Head Men's and Women's Track and Cross Country Coach, University of South Alabama

"In 1997 Padian et al published the results of a 10 year study on heterosexual transmission of HIV in northern California (Padian, N.S., S. C. Shiboski, S. O. Glass & E. Vittinghoff, 1997. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study. Am. J. Epidemiol.146:350–357.) The data were divided into two parts, cross sectional and prospective. From the cross sectional study it was estimated that infectivity for male to female transmission is low, approximately 0.0009 per contact, and approximately eight times more efficient than female to male transmission. Using this estimate of male to female transmission, it would take 770 or 3333 sexual contacts respectively to reach a 50% or 95% probability of becoming infected. If sexual contact were to take place repeatedly every three days this would require a period of 6.3 and 27.4 years respectively. Based on the estimate of female to male transmission by Padian et al it would require 6200 and 27,000 contacts and a period of 51 and 222 years, respectively.

In 2001 a community based study was reported from Uganda, where 174 monogamous couples, in which one partner was HIV-1 positive, were retrospectively identified from a population cohort involving 15 127 people. The probability of transmission per sexual contact was 0.0009 for male to female and 0.0013 for female to male respectively. The authors concluded that the probability of HIV transmission per sex act in Uganda is comparable to that in other populations (H Gray et al, eighth conference on retroviruses and opportunistic infections, Chicago 2001). In other words, there is no more heterosexual transmission of HIV in Africa than anywhere else, including Britain, the United States, Australia, and Europe." – from The Group’s rebuttal of the NIH HIV/AIDS website

4.   "Half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans,...We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions." George W. Bush, State of the Union, 1 Feb. 2006

5.   This is a sardonic reference to something I told Lee about the South Africa Presidential AIDS Panel. In his welcoming address to the group he convened in 2000 to examine the claims that South Africa was in her death throes because of HIV/AIDS, President Mbeki likened himself to a fool, recalling through a poetic allusion that the symbol of the fool traditionally represents receptivity to truth, and not "blissfully (or dangerously) ignorant" as his critics enjoy portraying him.

(HB: I like to call the article below "Why Does South Africa Still Have an Army?")

Mail & Guardian
March 31, 2000

Sixty percent of army may be HIV-positive: preliminary testing reveals that 60-70% of South African soldiers may be infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.

PAUL KIRK reports

"THE rate of HIV/Aids infection in the South African National Defence Force may be as high as 60% to 70% while in at least one military unit, 90% of the troops are infected with the virus. These extraordinary figures, leaked this week, were taken from preliminary HIV testing being conducted by the SANDF.

The 90% infection rate was found at a military police base in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and its infection status was discovered by accident. As part of a study into malaria drugs, the military recruited the soldiers to try out new medicines. The unit, based at Josini, was chosen as the town is a high-risk malaria area. But before the soldiers could be given the drugs they had to submit to a comprehensive medical evaluation, including an Aids test. Thirty out of the 33 members of the unit tested HIV-positive and the test had to be abandoned.

It is understood this unit was not the only one to test high. Some units around Pietermaritzburg and on the South Africa/Mozambique border have posted rates of well over 70%. At present all members of the defence force are being given medical examinations, including HIV tests, to check on their operational readiness. In terms of United Nations regulations, HIV-infected troops may not be sent on international peacekeeping operations.

At this stage the figures for all military units are not known. Brigadier General Prem Naicker of the Military Health Service said the exact figures will only be known in two months and the available figures are not accurate. He said high figures posted by isolated units are not necessarily indicative of the situation in the rest of the country.

Some two years ago, Metropolitan Life Aids researcher Dr Thomas Mühr claimed that about 40% of the SANDF were HIV-positive. At the time the military believed the figure was far lower, but was not conducting tests for HIV/Aids. Mühr said he based his initial estimate on statistics from other African states where men in the military were twice as likely as the civilian population to contract HIV/Aids.

Mühr pointed out that the areas mentioned by the Mail & Guardian were high-risk areas anyway and the general population would have a high incidence of HIV infection. Nonetheless, he said the figures were worrying. The rate of HIV infection being found in the SANDF at present compares favourably to that of the military in Malawi (75%) and Zimbabwe (80%), but it is worse than in many other African countries, including Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Tara is my daughter and Lee's godchild. According to the Bangui definition, she had full-blown AIDS in 1976.

Tara: 1981, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

Tara: 1998

Tara: 2004, Boulder, Colorado

Tara: 2007, Opening of the new wing of the Denver Museum of Art

8.   ITT stands for "International Thief, Thief", and is the title of a song by the late Fela Ransom-Kuti, a politically active Nigerian musician and composer that Lee and I like very much.

Stanley Falkow (Stanford University), the discoverer of transmissible antibiotic resistance plasmids, and I collaborated about 25 years ago when I was living and working in Nigeria. Among the more disquieting of our findings was the identification of the first Vibrio cholera in Africa containing R-plasmids, which not only made them resistant to newer broad-spectrum antibiotic combinations, but also capable of efficiently transferring their resistances to other enteric bacteria.

I also published this paper with the physician who delivered Tara. Sogbanmu MO, Bialy H. "Transferable drug resistance in Pseudomonas patients with premature rupture of membranes in Ile-Ife, Nigeria." Afr J Med Med Sci. 1980 Mar-Jun;9(1-2):49-51.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that the once easily treated, but now antibiotic resistant, infections in Nigeria that are so-glibly called AIDS are nothing more than the natural evolution of such bacteria, precisely as predicted by Profs. Falkow, Levy, myself and many others would occur if rampant antibiotic use was not curtailed.

© 2006 by Harvey Bialy