Soviet sports officials disciplined 290 potential Olympic athletes and coaches for drug use in the three years leading up to the 1988 Summer Olympics, but many others went unpunished, a Soviet newspaper reported Thursday.

Meditsinskaya Gazeta, the official newspaper of the Medical Worker's Union, said substance abuse among athletes of all grades and ages was a serious problem in the Soviet Union and that sports officials preferred to hush it up.The newspaper said children as young as 12 have tested positive for anabolic steriods during state-sponsored track meets.