***Sports Illustrated tells of Johnson's drug use, D7.

***Flo-Jo denies drug rumors, D7.No longer the weak sisters of American sports, U.S. women are flexing their muscles as never before in the Olympic Games, grabbing a gold in basketball that eluded the men and setting records all over the track.

Six American boxers brawled their way into the finals Thursday but it was the women, paced by sisters-in-law Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who led a march to victory stands once seemingly reserved for East Europeans.

They stole the show from the world's greatest male athletes, laboring through a decathlon won in a near empty stadium at night by East German Christian Schenk, and brought lightness and joy to an Olympics still burdened by a drug scandal that won't go away.

The U.S. men's basketball team could do no better than a bronze, secured with a 78-49 victory over Australia, after a painful semifinal loss to the Soviet Union.

The Soviets, who lead the Games with 39 golds and 94 medals overall, play Yugoslavia for the men's basketball gold on Friday. East Germany is second in medals with 79, including 31 gold, while the United States has a total of 61, 23 of them gold.

Two of the U.S. golds came courtesy of a woman who graced the Games with some of its most spectacular performances.

Fast Flo, Fluorescent Flo, Flo-Jo. By any name or measure, Florence Griffith Joyner is the swiftest female in history.

Twice she set world records in the 200-meter dash - 21.56 seconds in a qualifying heat and 21.34 in the finals - to win a matching gold for the one she earned in the 100. The old record, 21.71 seconds by East Germany's Marita Koch, stood for nine years. Griffith Joyner lowered it twice in less than two hours.

Far behind at the end were Grace Johnson of Jamaica, the silver medalist in 21.72, and world champion Heike Drechsler of East Germany, the bronze medalist in 21.95. In the last three Olympics where East and West came, the 200 always belonged to East Europeans.

"Two world records, two gold medals and I'm not finished," Griffith Joyner exulted after a spin in the arms of her husband, 1984 Olympic triple jump winner Al Joyner, and a victory ceremony that brought tears to her eyes.

Her big events won, Griffith Joyner now can focus on winning a third gold in the 400 relay Saturday and, possibly, a record-setting fourth gold in the 1,600 relay the same day.

Joyner-Kersee broke two barriers by becoming the first American woman to win the Olympic long jump and the first to win the heptathlon. The world's longest leaping and best all-around woman athlete flew a Games' record 24 feet, 31/2 inches Thursday to gain her second gold.

Mary Decker Slaney, worried about tripping but determined to win an Olympic medal, kept her hopes alive by qualifying easily for the finals of the women's 1,500-meter run.

Slaney said she was hesitant and scared of falling.

Teresa Edwards, Anne Donovan, Cindy Brown, Cynthia Cooper, Suzie McConnell, Katrina McClain, Teresa Weatherspoon and the other basketball players who beat Yugoslavia 77-70 for the gold left no doubt about who is No. 1.

Women's basketball became part of the Games in 1976, and the first gold was won easily by a bigger, much more experienced Soviet team that had not lost in five years.

Well, the United States has caught up.

Edwards and Donovan, the only two holdovers from the 1984 team whose gold medal was devalued by the Soviet boycott, led the 1988 team to a 5-0 record.

"It feels like we've finally proven ourselves to be the best," Edwards said.

"There's no question that this one's more special than '84," Donovan said. "Everyone was here and there's no doubt that we played the best this time to win."

In freestyle wrestling, American John Smith shut out Stephan Sarkissian of the Soviet Union 4-0 to win the gold medal at 136.5 pounds.

In the boxing arena, super heavyweight Riddick Bowe, heavyweight Ray Mercer, light heavyweight Andrew Maynard, light middleweight Roy Jones, light flyweight Michael Carbajal and bantamweight Kennedy McKinney reached the finals with victories Thursday.

In the decathlon, Schenk won the gold with a total of 8,488 points, teammate Torsten Voss won the silver with 8,399 points, and Canadian Dave Steen moved up from eighth on the final event, the 1,500, to win the bronze with 8,328 points.

Daley Thompson of Great Britain, trying for his third consecutive Olympic decathlon gold, was in third place going into his final event, the 1500 meters. But an injury hampered his performance and he finished fourth with 8,306. Thompson's pole snapped during an approach on the pole vault, but he continued in the competition.

In tennis, Staffi Graf of West Germany, going for the first "Golden Slam," moved into the women's singles final with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over American Zina Garrison. In the final, she will meet Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, who lost to Graf in the U.S. Open final. Sabatini beat Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-1.

Americans Ken Flach and Robert Seguso, the No. 1 seeds, defeated Czechoslovakians Milan Srejber and Miloslav Mecir 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the doubles final against Emilio Sanchez and Sergio Casal of Spain. The Spaniards beat Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd of Sweden 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.