Edward Borysewicz, the controversial Polish cycling coach who masterminded the success of the United States team at the 1984 Olympic Games, has passed away at the age of 81.
The Polish media reported that "Eddie B" - as he was widely known in the US - died from complications related to COVID-19 in a hospital in Drezdenko in his native Poland on Tuesday (November 17).
According to VeloNews, the news was broken on social media by Wacław Skarul, the former President of the Polish Cycling Association.
"Another sad news - cycling coach Edward Borysewicz is dead. The harvest of the coronavirus is intimidating. RiP," Skarul tweeted.
Borysewicz, a former top junior rider in Poland, was head coach of the US Olympic cycling team from 1977 until 1987.
This included the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles when the American team finished top of the cycling medals table for the only time in history, having previously failed to win a medal in the sport since Stockholm 1912.
They won a total of nine medals – four gold, three silver and two bronze.
The gold medallists included Alexi Grewal, who won the blue-ribbon event, the men’s road race.
It later emerged that seven members of the US team, four of whom won medals, had employed controversial blood transfusions.
Though not prohibited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the time, it led to a significant revision of the anti-doping rules.
Prior to 1984, the IOC Medical Commission had hesitated to prohibit any substance, including anabolic steroids, if it could not detect the substance through testing.
The willingness of the US team to experiment with new medical procedures to improve performance forced the IOC Medical Commission to adopt new protocols that remain largely in place today.
The US Cycling Federation banned blood doping in 1985 and the International Cycling Union made it illegal the following year.
Borysewicz claimed he did not have prior knowledge of the blood-boosting programme.
"Everything we did was legal and was not illegal until 1986," Borysewicz later said, according to VeloNews.
"People were jealous and all they could do was criticise and talk as though what we did was not legal.
"It was legal, and they knew it, but only talked about it after we won so many medals."
During his coaching career in the US, Borysewicz also worked with several young riders who went onto became international superstars, including Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong and Andy Hampsten.
After resigning as the US head coach, Borysewicz launched his own team, which eventually became Montgomery-Bell, the precursor to the U.S. Postal Service team of Armstrong.
In retirement, Borysewicz split his time between Poland and California and continued to coach amateur and elite racers up until his death, VeloNews reported.