Publish date:


Terry Todd, whose story on Houston Oiler Guard Bob Young begins on page 48, says the 285-pound Young reminds him of Vasily Alexeyev, the renowned Soviet weightlifter. "They're similar in structure," Todd explains, "and they both have Donelap's Disease. As my grandfather used to say, 'That fella's belly done lapped over his belt.' "

Todd knows why Alexeyev has Donelap's. At the world weightlifting championships in Gettysburg, Pa. two years ago, Todd invited him to dinner. On their third trip to the smorgasbord table, Alexeyev gestured toward their respective plates and announced "Competition!" The 370-pound Alexeyev and the 270-pound Todd matched each other, bite for bite, and then went for another helping, which involved a 24th piece of chicken for each. After which, Todd asked, "You want to go back again?" Alexeyev said, "Nyet."

The 42-year-old Todd, a national weight- and powerlifting champion during the '60s, hasn't competed since he became a college teacher in 1967. In the summer of 1979, after four years as an associate professor at Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University, Terry and his wife, Jan, the world's strongest woman (SI, Nov. 14, 1977), moved to Alabama, where Terry became director of Auburn University's new National Strength Research Center. He had long dreamed of such a place, where, as he puts it, "scientists and academicians could share ideas and learn from top-level athletes, and where athletes could train in an atmosphere permeated by research." The center was Todd's idea, and he sold it to the university and its neighbor, Diversified Products, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of weight-training equipment.

The staff, most of whom have Ph.D.s and muscles, includes, among others, Jan, who holds a master's in English literature and supervises weight training for Auburn's female varsity athletes. "But the center isn't just for the super athlete," Terry says. "We wanted to find out what weight training can do for the average middle-aged man, and our Scientific Research Director, Mike Stone, is about to come out with some startling findings that could have widespread social implications."

At the moment Terry is busy extolling Jan's latest triumph. For some time she had been getting letters from young women athletes asking for advice about anabolic steroids. She always responded, "I don't take them." But for every woman who wrote, Jan figured there were hundreds who didn't and who were ready to experiment with the drug. So last month, before competing in the Atlanta Women's Open Powerlifting Championships, she submitted to tests that would establish that she hadn't taken steroids and then went out and set five world records. "I did a 540 squat without them," she wrote in her column in The Powerlifter. "Other women have broken world records without them. Leave them alone."

Last week the Todds were in Texas, where Terry did the commentary for the CBS telecast of the World Powerlifting Championships, his fourth consecutive such appearance behind the mike. Terry is both knowledgeable and articulate about his sport, and he doesn't miss competing in it. Nonetheless, he still works out. It wouldn't do for a budding media star to come down with Donelap's Disease.