A portrait of Harmon Brown - member of the IAAF Medical and Anti-Doping Commission (Freelance) © Copyright
General News

Sports medicine pioneer Harmon Brown passes away

MonteCarloIt was with great sadness that the IAAF received the news that Charles Harmon Brown, a pioneering energy in the field of sports medicine, and a long time member of the IAAF Medical and Anti-Doping Commission, passed away on Tuesday afternoon (11 November).

A former hurdler, he attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania on an academic scholarship, where he graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Chemistry in 1952 and was a four-time Conference champion. Brown’s life long passion for athletics saw his expertise in medicine and sport, combine. Energised first as a college coach with his work to get women athletes the right to compete at collegiate level, he was later to make huge efforts in the field of anti-doping, and made pioneering research into the effects of strenuous exercise on the female body.

A Javelin Throw, Discus Throw, and Shot Put coach, Brown trained from club to high school to national and international level including work with three Olympians. In particular, Brown coached ten USA Track and Field international teams from 1967 to 1986 including two Olympic and two Pan Am Games squads.

As a physician Brown’s specialty was as an endocrinologist. In his time with Team USA as chair of USATF's Sports Medicine and Sports Science Committee he worked to find physiological, biochemical and nutritional performance benefits to counter the rise in drug use in elite sport. Brown also did some of the earliest work on the effects of distance running and strength training on women to demonstrate women’s physiological and performance capacity—in part to dispel existing beliefs that women would somehow sustain “harm” by running more than 800 meters or taking part in a weight training regime.

At global level in the early 1980s Brown helped to initiate and then chair the IAAF Medical Education Working Group a forerunner to the current Medical and Anti-Doping Commission on which he also served until stepping down in 2007. In all, Brown's contribution to the IAAF’s medical and anti-doping programme consisted of a remarkable 24 years of devoted service, a period which also involved many appointments as Medical Delegate to IAAF championships. In recognition of his service, Brown was made a recipient of the IAAF Veterans’ Pin in 2007.

Brown received a number of other awards for his work as a coach, official, administrator, and researcher, including the Joseph Robichaux Memorial Award from USATF for his contributions to women’s track and field (1983); the Dick Barbour Meritorious Service Award from the Pacific Association of USATF (1989); the Robert Giegengack Award from USA Track and Field for contributions to the sport (1995); the Tom Moore Lifetime Service Award from the Pacific Association of USATF (2004); and the Heliodoro and Pat Rico Lifetime Achievement Award from USATF (2008).

Setting up teaching programmes in sports medicine around the world, equipping doctors to help athletes stay healthy while achieving top performance always remained Brown’s working ethos.

Brown was a well respected author, notably the editor and co-author of the ‘IAAF Medical Manual for Athletics and Road Running Competitions: A Practical Guide’, a publication which is now in its third edition, and was a contributing author to the 'USA Track and Field Coaching Manual'.