IAAF Scandals: Doping, Corruption and Bribery

I apologize for the long hiatus, but I am slowly making my way back into blogging about the happenings along some of the legal aspects of the sports world. There are some very interesting and troubling recent events that occurred which are worth noting.

IAAF Corruption: A Call For a New IAAF Board 

An independent commission report debuted last week, which blamed the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) for a plethora of problems involving doping cover-ups and influencing the bidding process on how countries are selected for world championships.  Linford Christie, a gold medalist in the 1992 Olympic Games in the 100 meter dash, called for a new IAAF board and greater transparency within its organization to try and ensure that they take these matters seriously, and to restore the trust the public has lost in its organization. Unfortunately, it appears that its current president, Lord Coe, remains in power, and there does not appear anything will change in the near future.

One of the more shocking details of the report is how Lamine Diack, the former president of the IAAF, had a son who “apparently was asking for 5million dollars from Qatar to support their bid – they were our competitors for the 2017 championships.”

It is becoming clear that governing bodies in the sports world carry too much power and influence, to the point where they abdicate their moral outlook in exchange for monetary award. It was not too long ago when the corruption scandal that affected FIFA hit the news only a couple of years ago. Perhaps it is time to reformat the structure of these governing bodies to lessen the susceptibility of succumbing to external pressures.

IAAF Scandals Continue: Possible Criminal Charges for Former Russian Athletics Chief

IAAF is the source of one of the biggest sporting scandals within the last decade. For former Russians athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev, escaping criminal sanctions amid doping and bribery scandals seems unlikely. Balakhnichev, who simultaneously served as treasurer of the IAAF from 2011 to 2014, recently received a lifetime ban from the IAAF. His permanent ban comes from his decision to take bribes to cover up for the doping practices he knew Russian athletes had been performing. While Balakhnichev does not believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) possesses enough evidence with which to prove the allegations made, the possibility is all but likely. This, and other corruption issues within the Russian athletics, has put the participation of Russia within the 2016 Summer Olympics at an uncertainty. The IAAF plans to make its final decision on the country’s participation in late March of this year. As it stands now, Russia is ineligible to participate in the Olympics.

Considering the terse relationship between Russia and most of the rest of the world at large, banning Russia from the 2016 Summer Olympics will only further cool relations among the world’s superpowers. While banning the whole country for a sizable doping scandal may send strong message that the IAAF has a low tolerance for this sort of behavior, it may be too extreme.

In other news, 2016 marks 100 years since the first Modern Olympics Games were cancelled, due to World War I.

With respect to security, Brazil claims that it is “ready” for the 2016 Olympics, and has made arrangements for all types of safety precautions, in light of the recent terrorist activities within the past year.

Forbes contains an interesting article that suggests hosting an Olympics, more often than not, results in a sluggish or stifled economy. The article focuses on GDP, which is a common feature economists examine to determine the health of a nation’s economy.

Finally, Ryan Hall, a famous U.S. marathoner, has announced his retirement at age 33. Among his many exploits, Hall has made two Olympic teams (Beijing 2008, London 2012), and an American record. He has etched his way into becoming one of America’s greatest marathoners, making it possible for Americans to imagine challenging African marathoners, a continent that has typically dominated distance-running in the world.

 

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Soccer and doping, IOC and UN join forces

Soccer Just as Dope-Ridden As Any Other Sports

This morning, I begin with an interesting article that isn’t about track and field – it’s about doping in soccer, and how the individuals within the sport need to acknowledge that it happens. For years, many have said “oh, soccer is a clean sport” – or something to that effect. Comments like these should make people seriously doubt the accuracy of these statements. Falling into that trap will only result in harm; look what happened to the cycling world after the now-infamous Lance Armstrong drug scandal surfaced. But even after Armstrong’s revelations opened the Pandora’s Box, “many footballers and coaches contend that all is well in their perfectly pristine world. Doping? It just doesn’t exist in football, they’d tell you. After all, ‘drugs don’t make you pass better.’” Their willful blindness and ignorance to doping within soccer only makes them look worse than the cyclists. Also, their argument that soccer “is about technique and tactics,” and that doping wouldn’t work is an absolutely ridiculous statement. The comment also reveals how the denial runs about as deep as a glacier.

The article goes through doping evidence through the past 50 years. I won’t discuss everything in detail, so you’ll have to read the article if you want the specifics. Instead, I’ll touch upon enough of the article so that you’ll start to see a picture of how doping did (and still does) play a role in the sport of soccer.

In the 1950s, West Germany beat Hungary 3-2 in the World Cup Final. Hungary was the favorite going into the match, and while they suffered a number of unlucky circumstances before and during, “following the match, syringes and needles were found in the German locker room,” and they were filled with a stimulant called Pervitin.

In the 1960s, team members of Il Grande Inter engaged in doping. Ferruccio Mazzola, a player on the team who was later interviewed, described the prominent doping practices initiated by Helenio Ferrera. In the 70s, team members from Ajax eventually admitted that “[Defender Barry Hulshoff] and his teammates at Ajax occasionaly received pills from Docter Rolink.”

Let’s fast-forward to the World Cup in 1988. In Gary Neville’s autobiography, he discusses what happened at the English soccer camp: “When the 1998 World Cup started, some of the players started taking injections from Glenn’s favourite medic, a Frenchman called Dr Rougier. After some of the lads said they’d felt a real burst of energy, I decided to seize any help on offer. So many of the players decided to go for it before that Argentina match that there was a queue to see the doctor.” Nobody knows what was in those injections, but if they weren’t talking about it, then there’s likely a strong sense of foul play. The article continues to name other doping examples during the 2000s. There’s enough to turn most people with half a brain into a skeptic. The real question is whether FIFA or any football clubs and associations will do anything about it, but it doesn’t seem promising.

IOC and UN Join Forces

Yesterday, IOC president Thomas Bach and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “signed an agreement Monday which will see the two organisations utilise sport to ‘build a better world'” at a General Assembly meeting in New York. Bach said, “The Olympic Movement is willing and ready to make its contribution to the most laudable efforts of the United Nations to maintain and build peace and to bring along social change.” The new partnership will enable the duo to work with various UN-member organizations to provide better access to sports “all among communities, quality physical education in school settings, youth empowerment, education, and skills development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, peace-building and community dialogue, healthy life-styles promotion, and environmental sustainability.” While the UN and the IOC have worked together in the past, the signed agreement makes it official. The UN has long recognized the uniting power sports has on communities, areas, and nations, and this agreement further cements that recognition.

In continuing news, IOC vice-president John Coates publicly criticized Rio when he said that Rio’s preparations were “the worst he has ever seen” – including Athens in 2004, which Coates worked on. As noted earlier, the IOC stepped in by helping with a number of operations Rio struggles to finish (in some cases, start). Moreover, the city struggles with social and government issues which need immediate attention – not to mention that it is hosting a World Cup within the next couple of months. 

American Tyson Gay, the second-fastest man in history at the 100-meter dash – and whose sample contained evidence of doping – is expected to hear about his case soon. The article fails to mention exactly when that might be, but considering five Jamaican athletes also tested positive on the same day Gay did – and the fact that all of the athletes had their cases resolved since then – gives some indication that it will be sooner as opposed to later.

Finally, here’s a fun article explaining why cheetahs are no longer the fastest land animal (although if speed was always measured in body lengths per second, then the Australian tiger beetle would be the previous fastest land animal). The mite travels up to 322 body lengths per second, easily defeating the Australian tiger beetle, which travels at a “mere” pace of 171 body lengths per second. The discovery may lead to better designs in technology for robotic or biomimetic devices.

 

NCAA governance changes and more Rio concerns

Structural Changes in NCAA

To start this weekend off, we look at some news coming from Indiana. The Division I Board of Directors are finally beginning to take some steps toward rectifying the situation between collegiate athletes and the universities, conferences, and the NCAA as a whole (although the article does not state that expressly). The proposal that the Board endorses will tentatively include the following additions: “the chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; the chair of a new group tentatively called the Council; and the most senior Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association’s executive committee. The council chair would always be an athletics director, giving that constituency an automatic spot on the board.” While the Board’s main responsibilities remain fixated on “oversight and strategic issues,” the new “Council” would have the final word on “shared governance rule-making decisions.” Underneath the Council, there are proposals to create two additional subcategories to support it: ” a championships-focused group and a legislative group.”

And, an intriguing point about this Council is the autonomy this plan gives to the top-grossing conferences in the NCAA, which will “allow the five highest-resource  conferences (the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference) to address their unique challenges, the model would grant them autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes.” It will focus on:

  • financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
  • insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
  • academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
  • other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

From now until August, the Board and the steering committee will seek feedback from member institutions – suggesting changes, additions, subtractions, etc. By August, the Board will vote on whether this new restructuring process will be implemented. Full implementation will take a year, and operations will run as usual until all of the changes are in effect.

The NCAA appears to have stepped away from the battle of the collegiate athletes’ unionization plan by refusing to acknowledge their reasons for wanting to make these changes (even though the reason the NCAA is making these changes is to try and head off the unionization attempt). At this early stage, I’m not convinced that adding more individuals and “charging committees” with all the right things they’re supposed to be doing in the first place will solve the problem. It’s likely that the “restructuring process” merely reflects cosmetic alterations that are as effective as putting a band-aid on a large hole of a dam. It might work for a short time, but the hole remains unfixed, and the dam will eventually break. The NCAA is not making any major ruling changes to its infrastructure – rather, it is adding more individuals to an already tainted system. In other words, these changes will not address the actual problems, and it’ll only worsen if left untreated.

Polluted Waters May Prevent Sailing Testing Events

Rio continues to have a tough time dealing with its preparations for the Summer Olympics in 2016. Head of competitions of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Alastair Fox believes that he can reduce the amount of pollution down to where it is possible to hold an Olympic sailing event with no issues…but not by this August. On August 2, Rio planned to host a test competition “ with around 400 sailors from the 10 Olympic classes,” but it’s looking like that will not happen. To give you a taste of how deplorable the pollution was/is, here’s a quote lifted from the article: “Last November, it was revealed Guanabara Bay has 78-times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195-times the US limit, and this has led to numerous figures from the sailing world claiming the venue is simply unfit for top-level competition.” Currently, the water is so contaminated that it is unfit for any competitions.

Sailing isn’t the only sport concerned about the water levels. Open swimming and rowing committees also voiced their concerns about the health risks posed to athletes swimming and competing in the contaminated waters. Although Rio continues to don a persistent confidence that everything will proceed smoothly, its history over the course of the past few months does not provide much ease.

In Boston Marathon news, Meb Keflezighi was named USATF’s Athlete of the Week after becoming the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. He crossed the line to a personal best of 2:08.37. While Keflezighi celebrated his huge accomplishment, an online manhunt has started for bandits who ran the marathon without paying the entry fee from a runner who was not so pleased. Kara Bonneau, “a 34-year-old North Carolina database analyst,” discovered that four individuals ran in the race, and was using the same bib number as her. She discovered this when she logged onto a photo website where one could purchase pictures of themselves running the marathon. When she searched for her bib number, she found that four other individuals with the exact bib numbers came up as well. Bonneau believes that the bandits probably lifted the number from her Instagram account that showed a photo she took of her bib number for the race. Although bandit running is not illegal (too difficult to regulate – think “jaywalking”), Bonneau is determined to find these individuals. She put their pictures up all across social media in an effort to figure out who these people are.

 

 

Questionable standards in cycling doping bans and new trials

We start this morning with some news about the apparent double standards doping experiences in the sport of cycling. While the name Johan Bruynell might be foreign to most people’s ears, Lance Armstrong’s name is certainly notorious, as his recent doping scandal caused many to take a second look at the huge doping problem in cycling. Bruyneel served as Armstrong’s team manager at the time Armstrong was in competition, and he was also heavily involved in the doping scandal. At the hearing, the arbitrators found that Bruyneel was “’at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping’ on multiple teams spanning many years and many riders.” 

This past Monday, “ an arbitration panel ruled Monday that [Johan] Bruyneel would be barred from cycling for 10 years.” Former team trainer Pepe Martí and former team doctor Pedro Celaya, two individuals who also played key roles in the doping scandal, merely suffered an eight year ban. Armstrong, as most know, continues to suffer a lifetime ban from cycling. The article raises a serious question as to why the athlete suffers a lifetime ban, while the non-athletes (trainers, doctors, managers, etc.) have the potential to return to the sport, only to begin its doping tirade once again (slight exaggeration: some doctors and other individuals associated with the doping scandal did suffer lifetime bans). 

Although chief executive Travis Tygart of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) proposed lifetime bans for all three individuals, the case itself presented “one of the most complex antidoping prosecutions ever brought,” according to the arbitration panel. The article mentions an eight-year statute of limitations, which cut out a good portion of evidence and testimony. The lack of credibility for certain witnesses led to a decision to keep some of them out of testifying against the three coaches. Moreover, a distinguishing point between Armstrong and the three coaches is that Armstrong never attended an arbitration hearing (in addition, Armstrong’s attitude was everything but cooperative). While it is possible the coaches could still face a lifetime ban from coaching the sport, it is unlikely.  USADA will likely appeal the decision if “there was new evidence,” but the wording of the article suggests that this outcome is unlikely. The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently reviewing USADA’s decision, so we may see a future article if something unusual occurs.

Changing gears a bit, we turn our focus from the cycling world to the criminal world. Tim Danielson, a former American middle-distance runner, made history in 1966 when he became the second American to run under 4 minutes in the mile as a high school athlete. Now, nearly 50 years later, Danielson faces accusations of murdering his ex-wife Ming Qi by shooting her. Thereafter, Danielson attempted to commit suicide. Danielson’s legal defense stems from a drug called Chantix – a drug used for overcoming a smoking addiction – which may have caused his erratic behavior. While Danielson confessed to sending emails and making phone calls admitting he killed Qi,” the side-effects of Chantix – “”hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions” – may reduce or nullify Danielson’s guilt. The trial shall take place in California, where the law changed from “diminished capacity” to “diminished actuality.” The change in wording may provide some meager defense, but there is a chance no Chantix may have been in Danielson’s system at the time of the crime. Spokespeople from Chantix vehemently deny that any scientific evidence exists such that the drug would cause such drastic side-effects. While that fact does not completely disprove the defense, it is certainly a factor that could weigh against Danielson’s defense. Jury selection for the upcoming trial began yesterday.

In more doping news, we discover that American Walter Davis, a former world indoor and outdoor triple jump champion, is suffering a one-year ban from all track and field competitions “for repeatedly failing to file his location with anti-doping officials.” The ban went into effect last Wednesday, and is retroactive starting from July 1, 2013. Therefore, any results Davis achieved during that time period are automatically disqualified. Davis failed to file his “whereabouts information” three times between July 2012 and July 2013. Failure to do so results in suspension under the IAAF rules.

News from South Africa report that Hendrick Ramalaa, a veteran marathon runner, will run for presidency of the Athletics South Africa (ASA) in a month’s time. ASA has endured a recent cash flow issue, and Ramalaa believes he can “steer the ship of the embattled ASA in the right direction despite previously contributing to the mess.” Ramalaa garnered the support of former president and former enemy James Evans, as well as the other ASA members. ASA shall hold the elections on May 24.

An update from the Pistorius trial suggests that Pistorius may have taken acting lessons prior to his murder trial. Of course, the accusations were immediately denied, but the damage is already done. No official comment has been made about the accusation, though. Pistorius’ trial is set to resume on May 3.

Finally, Rome is still working furiously to win the 2024 Summer Olympics bid, but its government remains unsupportive. It appears that Italy’s financial status is bleak, and proposed funding cuts are likely to happen in the public sector – in the sports program, specifically. Many believe that an Olympics is the type of event to revitalize Italy’s economy, but newly elected Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has made no public comment on whether Italy should put forth a bid.

 

Antitrust and collegiate athletics

Collegiate Amateur Athletics: Doomed to Fail?

This morning, we start off with yet another story against the institution of collegiate athletics, and it has to do with an upcoming antitrust case in New Jersey. Jeffrey Kessler, a prominent lawyer with a long, successful track record in sports antitrust law helping plaintiffs in professional sports associations (NBA, NFL, etc.) has begun representing college athletes. His belief that collegiate football and basketball are virtually indistinguishable from their professional counterparts, and that “it is both illegal and fundamentally unfair that the athletes don’t get any opportunity to share in what they’re generating for these businesses.” Kessler’s goal is to convince the court to “strike down as an illegal restraint on trade the restrictions that the NCAA and five member conferences collectively impose on what he views as the compensation of college athletes, in the form of their athletic scholarships.” A court striking down the restraint will open the door for college and universities to engage in even more bidding wars – and “end the amateur model of college sports.”

It’s an interesting way to look at it, but it’ll depend on whether a court will buy the NCAA’s historic argument that students are amateur students, not professional athletes. Facts and history indicate that the amateur model is falling at an alarming speed, and the only way to protect these athletes is to pay them. Kessler was quoted in saying that a settlement “could occur,” which may lead to further changes. The NCAA better have better arguments within its arsenal, as the “amateur student” model may be an antiquated notion that survived past its prime.

There is one more point that I find disturbingly fascinating – a potential legal loophole within Title IX. One argument the NCAA may promulgate is that paying college football and basketball players will run afoul of Title IX, as the act would require similar equitable compensation for women. Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sport management at Drexel University who has substantial experience in Title IX, says “i’t is feasible that if male basketball and football players were to be declared workers, they could be compensated without requiring female athletes who were still deemed students to receive equitable amounts.’ After all, she says, Title IX is about access to an education; under the law, ‘there is no worker calculation.'” Other scholars disagree. “If male college athletes are paid, and women college athletes are not paid, but they’re both still considered student-athletes, then it seems likely that Title IX is implicated,” said McCann, a professor of law at the University of New Hampshire and professor of law and director of its Sports and Entertainment Law Institute. I tend to side with McCann on this one. In addition, what would stop female collegiate athletes coming forward later as plaintiffs and alleging that the system caters only to collegiate male athletes, and that no or meager funds for females are provided? Even so – the NCAA better come up with some legitimate compromise, or the system will likely go out the window.

In related news, there’s an article depicting Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany speaking out against college athletes unionizing by saying that “students are students, not employees.” If you’ve heard the argument before, then reading the article will not reveal any innovative arguments in favor of maintaining the current NCAA model with some adjustments.

In Jamaican news, the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission admitted that it made grave errors in Veronica-Campbell Brown’s testing sample. Jamaican athletics suffers an additional embarrassment when it was discovered that chairman Lennox Gayle, “a member of the disciplinary panel which banned Asafa Powell for 18 months for a drug violation has been charged with running a prostitution ring on the Caribbean Island.” Prostitution at a massage parlor Gayle has supervisory authority over was discovered when several women were arrested “following a raid on the parlor.” Additional accusations against Gayle include “living off immoral earnings and misleading and deceptive conduct.” 

In Rio 2016 news, Rio De Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes still maintains that “there is no reason for concern,” and that the Olympics will be fully complete by the time the event will start. The Mayor increased the budget for the Games, and has begun “tendering works” for the Deodoro Complex – the building set to host a plethora of events, yet no work has started on it.

Nike and USATF extended their sponsorship agreement from 2017 to 2040Kazan, Russia will host the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships, and the International Olympic Committee is seriously considering bids for an Olympics in Africa.

Finally, you can watch a glimpse at the Boston Bombing Memorial. The exhibit is open to the public until May 11 of this year.

Sexual assault, unionization talks and updates on continuing stories

It’s busy in the news this morning, so let’s get started. First, two former Boise State University students filed a lawsuit against the school because “athletic officials ignored their reports of sexual assault and harassment by a star athlete.” Unfortunately, this article sounds much like Florida State University’s reaction to allegations against Jameis Winston, where there was little to no action on behalf of the police or the university. These examples continue to set unspeakable precedents – that as long as you’re an “important public figure” that protects politics and increases revenue, your reputation is protected, no matter the cost.

The lawsuit contains allegations that Boise State University officials displayed “deliberate indifference” to their plight, and that these officials ignored a “record of serially harassing and assaulting fellow students, and that the school’s failure to take action spurred the athlete to continue the behavior…at the time that the plaintiffs began attending BSU, J.W. Hardy, the head coach of the track and field team, as well as other members of the athletic department, had been provided with information demonstrating that the BSU perpetrator created a sexually hostile environment for females, and/or posed a risk of rape or sexual battery to females,” the women contend in the lawsuit.” Subsequently, the school fired the coach, but did not indicate why. 

Turning to Indiana, the NCAA is urging schools and universities to discuss openly reasons why unionization will create huge problems for student-athletes. The biggest issue is the likelihood that universities will cut scholarships and championships at institutions where collegiate athletes join unions. The article describes all of the issues with unionization, such as the “NCAA focusing on the student-athlete as a student,” discouraging students from thinking the only reason student-athletes attend higher education system is for money, and how Title IX is too complex to sustain such a pay-for-play system. Although the article doesn’t talk about it explicitly, unionization would likely create a situation where campuses that house athletes who are part of a union will cut their scholarships and possibly their sports programs, rendering the union useless. If you can’t protect a sport that does not exist, then there is no need to have an aegis – the aegis being unions for college athletes.

The NCAA still does not get it, and the article proves this point. The NCAA should encourage schools to step up and discuss this issue, and I am not opposed to that maneuver. What is missing from the article is how the NCAA plans to address the concerns and problems it acknowledges with the way in which they treat the student-athletes. The NCAA has yet to disseminate an appeasing political statement – something to the effect of this: “we are working hard to review the regulations to address the substantial problems with the infrastructure.” Furthermore, the NCAA has failed to ask for any feedback from any universities. The lack of an attempt to compromise suggests to me that the NCAA’s only goal is to defeat the unionization process and return to status quo without people noticing.

Although the NCAA cannot find a way to solve the unionization issue, it did vote on one important issue: student-athletes’ access to food. Apparently, a stipend of three meals a day simply is not enough anymore: “the Council decided that athletes, walk-ons and those on scholarship, can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation. Previously, student athletes received three meals a day or a food stipend.” The article mentions an anecdote of Shabazz Napier, a University of Connecticut basketball star who helped lead his team to win the NCAA tournament, often went to bed hungry because he could not afford to buy food. There are certain limitations to the rule, however. “The rule wasn’t intended to replace a regular student meal plan. In other words, a school couldn’t theoretically hire a five-star chef to cater three meals a day just to athletes. Schools can, however, still provide one training table meal per day during the academic year when regular school dining facilities are open. The cost of those training table meals are deducted from the an athlete’s board allowance.” I suppose tuition will experience another increase…but not for education.

In competition news, Eugene is in the running for hosting the IAAF World Championships in 2019, along with contenders Doha, Qatar, and Barcelona, Spain. Eugene is already hosting the IAAF World Junior Championships in July, and Portland is hosting the 2016 World IAAF Indoor Championships.

In continuing news, the Court of Arbitration for Sport issued a 58-page ruling, criticizing how the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission screwed up testing Veronica-Campbell Brown’s sample in exonerating her of all charges. One statement sums up the tone of the panel: “That systematic and knowing failure … is deplorable and gives rise to the most serious concerns about the overall integrity of the JAAA’s anti-doping processes.” In Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, the prosecutor concluded his five-day cross-examination on Pistorius.

We’re still seeing some problems with Rio 2016. A couple days ago, a letter criticizing Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman became public. It was written by Eric Walther Maleson, “a Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic bobsledder who was founding President of the Brazilian Ice Sports Federation from 1996 to 2012 and a Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) Board member between 1999 and 2012,” calls for the resignation of Nuzman. The letter severely criticizes Nuzman, and casts him as being “personally responsible for all the problems affecting the future host.” 

Finally, here’s an interesting article about the different diets of professional athletes.

Rio 2016 updates, changing history in Jamaica

Will Rio Finish On Time?

Much of today’s news focuses on the mounting problems in Rio, so we’ll start there. First, the IOC assurred critics of Rio’s crippling delays that it was “premature” to think about moving the Olympic Games from Rio to another site. 18 different sports federations raised “serious concerns” over Rio’s ability to deliver the Games on time. The pressure from international sport leaders has influenced IOC President Thomas Bach to begin taking measures to ensure that preparations complete in a timely manner. IOC Spokesman Mark Adams claimed that Rio could “still deliver good games if appropriate actions are taken.” Rio claims to have made progress since the IOC visited its country two weeks ago, but there are still significant concerns with the Deodoro complex, which is expected to hold eight Olympic events. Construction on the complex has yet to begin, which is way behind schedule. IOC vice president Craig Reedie compared the problems Athens faced up until the last minute in 2004, and he felt that Rio’s problems are much bigger than Athens…and Athens barely finished on time.

The next article highlights the special task forces the IOC has assembled to ensure that Rio completes its tasks before the Olympics begin. The first task force will begin on venue work, as the IOC pinpointed it as the project needing the most work. These task forces have already done the grunt work of determining  “the delays and the problems, and it is reassuring that from the Rio standpoint they have the same evaluations. We have special measures in place and task forces, and we will have the support at the highest levels of the organisations involved.” The task forces will begin work “very soon,” which I hope is not the Rio definition of soon, since Rio is gaining a reputation for procrastination. 

Despite criticism and doubt whether Rio will finish its preparations in time, Rio strongly believes they will “deliver a great Games.” Some individuals remain unconvinced. At a news conference in Belek, Turkey, “the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) accused Rio of not delivering on its promises.” Francesco Ricci Bitti, the head of ASOIF, expressed his displeasure in how the preparations have proceeded thus far. He said, “The general feeling is that we are in the most critical situation in the preparation for the Games that has happened in the last 20 years at least.” The problems continue to grow, as Rio officials already admitted that ” that some airports and public transportation projects will not be ready in time for the football tournament.” I imagine Bitti was a strong advocate in favor of moving the Games from Rio, as his doubt for Rio’s ability to deliver the Games is clear. As of now, we have only to go on Rio’s word that it will attend to its matters. But if Rio does not start showing some action and palpable results, it could risk losing the Games all together.

Jamaica’s Success Encourages Its Fleeing Athletes to Remain

There’s an interesting development in Jamaica, and it has to do with the US. immigration, fleeing athletes and the Penn Relays. In case you’re unaware, the Penn Relays is arguably the largest track and field meet in the world to feature all levels of athletes. People come from all over the world to watch the four-day event, which allows people from a wide age range to compete. Moreover, it features world-class athletes, and the famous 4×100: USA vs. The World. Usually, though, it’s a fierce competition between USA and Jamaica to determine bragging rights, as that rivalry has existed for the better part of 20 years.  A large part of that tradition involves Jamaican athletes traveling to the US to compete. However, these meets became problematic for the Jamaican high school athletes. Once they arrive, the high school athletes would go AWOL (away without leave) after their competitions, only to remain in the US illegally. These athletes leave in search of better lives. They grew weary of living an impoverished lifestyle, and so they seek out the US in the hope that it leads to a better life. Even if only one athlete left, the entire country bears the stigma, and it colors them in an often misleading stereotype.

Recently, professional track and field in Jamaica has improved. Young athletes recognize its progress, and it encourages them to remain in Jamaica. These athletes see an attainable and tangible dream in becoming a professional track and field athlete as a way to make a good living. The changing professional climate is not the only factor, though. Other factors include, but are not limited to “better organisation of hosting groups, particularly those working for or in tandem with the celebrated Penn Relays and the ever-changing US immigration laws, have also contributed to a decline in these incidents.” Relations between USA and Jamaica are also improving, but that’s still a work in progress. 

Turkey still faces doping problems within its Athletics regime. The International Association of Athletics Federations’ president Lamine Diack encouraged Turkey to follow suit with what the US did in the early 2000s: create an anti-doping agency.

in continuing news, Above The Law published an article about big NCAA university schools that threatened to cut its sports if its students begin unionizing. Leo Manzano signed a shoe contract with Hoka One One, and Lord Coe looks to head up the IAAF after Lamine Diack retires in 2015.