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U.S. Track Athlete Arrested For Kicking Taxi

September 28, 1988 GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ U.S. Olympic runner Johnny L. Gray was arrested for kicking a taxi and is the third American athlete to be detained for unruly behavior in the past week, police said today.

Authorities said Gray was seized by police after he became involved in an argument with a taxi driver Tuesday night.

The driver said he blew his horn at Gray because the runner was blocking the road. Gray kicked the taxi and then tried to flee, but was caught by police, authorities said.

Gray was questioned at a police station, then released in the custody of U.S. Embassy officials, police said.

Ron Rowan, an attorney for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said Gray and three unidentified companions complained that the cab was driving dangerously and almost hit them. Gray was acting in self-defense, Rowan said.

The taxi driver chased the Americans with an object that appeared to be a tire iron, but did not hit anyone before police intervened and detained Gray, Rowan said.

Rowan said the driver had been compensated for the damage.

The case was forwarded to the Public Prosecutor for possible action on charges of violent assault, police said. But the case was considered minor and it was unlikely that any major action would be taken against Gray, a police officer said.

Gray finished fifth in the 800-meter run. He won the U.S. Olympic trials in the event and was national champion in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

Police were to forward to the prosecutor today their report the arrest Saturday of U.S. Olympic gold medalist swimmers Troy Dalbey and Doug Gjertsen after a marble carving was removed from a Seoul hotel.

Dalbey and Gjertsen apologized for the incident Tuesday.

Police officials said no special consideration was being given to the American athletes, but they indicated they did not expect charges to be pressed.

There have been no reports of athletes from other countries being arrested.

A series of incidents involving U.S. Olympic team members has triggered a wave of criticism in the South Korean media and among some Koreans.

Newspapers have charged Americans are rude and arrogant and have failed to behave properly during their stay in Seoul.

Much of the criticism appears to be part of attempts to deflect attention from an incident last week in which South Korean boxing officials attacked a referee after he awarded a decision to a Bulgarian boxer over a local favorite.

That case is also under investigation by police, but there has been no statement on how the probe is proceeding and the case is rarely mentioned by the local press.