Mary Decker Slaney, the premier American women's distance runner, says there is extensive drug use among track and field athletes throughout the world, and many of the users go unpunished.

Slaney, the U.S. record-holder in all outdoor distances from 800 meters to 10,000 meters, said Tuesday there is a big "cover-up" of drug use in the sport, and in order to clean it up, all athletes should be tested by an independent agency at any time during the year, not only at meets.Slaney said that if a number of tests turned up positive, such as Ben Johnson did at the Olympics, it could be seriously damaging to track and field.

"If you nail people for drugs, the results will suffer," she said at a luncheon, announcing her entry into the mile for the Feb. 3 Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. "The results won't be as good and people won't watch.

"But how long can it go on? There are tests that are positive, but they are ignored, swept under the rug."

She said the use of masking agents, making drugs impossible to detect, have hampered the testing process.

"This year, I have suspicions" of a lot of athletes being on drugs, Slaney said, "just like everybody does."