Monthly Archives: February 2014

More USATF controversy, and inhaling gas

It Just Keeps Coming: Another Instance of USATF Failure

As usual, Friday’s news in the track and field world focuses mostly on the meets occurring over the weekend. But, we do have some more news coming out of Alburquerque – where Indoor nationals were held, and where most of the hot news came from this week. USATF takes home the gold this week for “most notorious governing body of the week.” Here’s the scoop: USATF Indoor Nationals, like most major events, rely on many volunteers to make the event run smoothly. One way USATF assembles volunteers is by sending an email to people associated with track and field requesting help. One of these “blanket emails” that went out arrived in the inbox of Christian Hesch. Hesch, an athlete “currently serving an 18-month ban from USADA for committing an anti-doping rule violation involving EPO,” received an email from USATF asking if he wanted to volunteer “escorting athletes to drug testing” at the National Championships. As a “humorous” gesture, Hesch accepted. He attended the meet, secured the necessary credentials, and hung around for an hour or two before Jim Estes, the USATF Director of Events, recognized who he was. Thereafter, a USADA coordinator was advised, and then revoked Hesch’s credential.

While Hesch never escorted an athlete to doping control or had any involvement in the process that would raise concerns, his presence alone highlights problems USATF has in its infrastructure. USATF did perform one thing right in its expedient revocation of Hesch’s credential, but it illustrates some important takeaway points. Hesch’s action does not advance nor help the sport. Doping is a huge problem in sports – in particular, track and field. This action, albeit for humor, only pushes USATF deeper into the quagmire of problems it has. Now, Hesch does carry some of the blame here. It is possible that he could have sent an email back with an explanation of why he could not serve as a volunteer. At the same time, this debacle reveals further problems with the way USATF selects its volunteers for certain tasks. The absence of “stopgaps,” or filters to sift out doping sanctioned volunteers, not to mention the obvious “incompetence in the sport’s governing body” only makes the circumstance worse.

WADA Begins Investigation of Russian Use of Xenon

Yesterday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that it will launch an investigation on Russian athletes on their use of xenon, an alleged “performance enhancing gas.” A German broadcaster alleges that top athletes from the Russian team are known to have used xenon in an effort to improve their performances, which tipped off WADA and is part of the reason to investigate. According to the article, use of xenon “artificially increases [erythropoietin] EPO in the blood, which is forbidden under WADA rules.” No WADA members made any comments, and will likely refrain from doing so until after its annual conference this April, where the members will discuss the topic. An interesting piece of this puzzle is that Vladimir Uiba, the head of Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, does admit that Russian athletes “may indeed have been using xenon gas,” but he believes that its use “is not illegal.”

While the article is short, its effect on Russia could turn out to be catastrophic. The article points out that Russian athletes have been inhaling xenon since the 2004 Olympics. If WADA’s investigation reveals that xenon gas is indeed illegal, any athlete who used it throughout the Olympic Games (or earlier) is in jeopardy of losing any medals, points, awards or prizes. Given that Putin is an extremely powerful figure, not to mention Russia taking home 13 golds from the Sochi Games, makes me think that politics might overrule here, and that somehow xenon gas will either be “permissible,” or legal in some narrow construction of the phrase. If not, it’ll be one of the top ten most humiliating experiences of the Russian Federation’s history.

UK Anti-Doping Unaware of Brits’ Use of Xenon

While some Russian athletes are likely using xenon, the UK anti-doping agency officials claim to be “unaware of any British athletes inhaling xenon gas to improve performance.” The article discusses the history of injection EPO, and notes that the practice has been banned since the early 1990s. This article points out an aspect missing from the previous with this sentence: “experts are divided over whether inhaling xenon is illegal under the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) Code.” Some experts, such as former WADA president Dick Pound, asserted that the issue is clear: use of xenon qualifies as doping, and “it is impossible to say in this process that the rules are not clear.” Others discredit the practice, arguing that it inhaling xenon is ineffective. One anonymous anti-doping expert stated that xenon has the ability to increase EPO in animals, but its effects on humans may not translate in the same manner. Another unnamed source pointed out that inhaling xenon gas is no different than the use of “legal oxygen tents,” which also naturally increase red blood cells.

According to the article, the relevant rule is “section M1, which deals with ‘manipulation of blood and blood components.” Section M1 contains a listed of prohibited substances, which include “artificially enhancing the uptake, transport or delivery of oxygen, including, but not limited to, perfluorochemicals, efaproxiral (RSR13) and modified haemoglobin products (eg haemoglobin-based blood substitutes, microencapsulated haemoglobin products), excluding supplemental oxygen.” Supplemental oxygen is a designated exception. One issue WADA may encounter is whether the use of xenon closely resembles the banned list of substances, or whether it looks more like the exception of supplemental oxygen. Where it falls on the scale will determine whether it is a prohibited substance.

In non-doping news, Peter Shankman, a known author and speaker, was cited for running in Central Park yesterday for “breaking the 1am curfew.” According to Central Park regulations, it is illegal to run in the park between 1am and 6am, although the article does point out that Shankman has “waved to [the police]” during some of his morning runs within the illegal time frame without them giving him a citation.

If you’re a Russian athlete who earned a medal at the Sochi Games, then congratulations on your new Mercedes. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev handed out Mercedes “as prizes for the country’s Olympic medalists at the Sochi Winter Games” yesterday. Wonder if those vehicles will be revoked if xenon gas turns out to be illegal?

Finally, you can start the weekend off with a little humor about USATF and its “meetings” comic.

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Sanctions, appeals and banned bags

Brett Perry Accepts 9 Month Suspension

This morning, we start with some news about athletes caught doping. U.S. speed skater Brett Perry “tested positive for Methylphenidate and its metabolite, Ritalinic Acid,” from the sample he provided at the U.S. Olympic Trials on December 28, 2013. Methylphenidate is prohibited by a contingent of anti-doping agencies (USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing; International Skating Union Anti-Doping Rules), both of which adopted the WADA Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. Methylphenidate is a “Specified Substance,” meaning that a reduced sanction (here, nine months, where the maximum penalty is up to two years for a first offense) is possible. Perry did have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), yet he failed to follow the proper protocol that would allow him to use it. Quick explanation of a TUE: an athlete can undergo a process in which he or she may take substances normally banned by an applicable anti-doping agency. Usually, there is some medical reason that allows the an athlete to take the banned substance.

When an athlete tests positive for a banned substance, the period of ineligibility normally begins on the date the sample was collected. Once the date is determined, it is customary to disqualify the athlete from any competitions subsequent to the positive sample. Moreover, the athlete forfeits “any medals, points, and prizes” associated with those competitions. In Perry’s case, he would forfeit his appearance at the 2014 Olympic Trials at Salt Lake City because his sample came before the Trials began, as well as any other competitions since then.

IAAF Brings Alptekin Appeal Before CAS

Unfortunately, doping is the theme of this morning, but not for helpful reasons (at least thus far.) 1,500 Olympic Champion Asli Cakir Alptekin thought she was in the clear when the Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) cleared her for competition. If you recall from an earlier post, her provisional ban began last year in May, after “abnormalities were detected in her biological passport” (recall that biological passport in this case is an athlete’s blood profile, not the document needed to pass through international security). Recently, however, IAAF lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The general rule is that if an athlete is cleared for competition by one entity, the athlete can return to competition. If another entity (here, IAAF) files an appeal of the cleared athlete’s status, the athlete will suffer a re-imposed ban, and will not be ineligible to compete. Here, Alptekin’s initial clearance ended once IAAF filed an appeal, thus re-imposing the ban until the matter is resolved by CAS.

BAA tightens its grip on security for upcoming marathon

Heads up to those who are competing at the Boston Marathon: don’t expect to have access to your bags near the start or finish line. Yesterday, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced that runners “cannot bring backpacks or any similar item carried over the shoulder or handbags of any size.” These items are not permitted near the course, at the start or finish lines, or at marathon events.

It is clear from the article that the attacks from last year’s Boston Marathon encouraged the efforts to “beef up” the security. But how far is too far? The marathon, is scheduled to take place on April 21 of this year, contains a plethora of “don’ts” that people bring, wear or rely on when watching or competing at the event. The items include the following list, pulled from the article:

  • Costumes covering the face
  • Non form-fitting, bulky outfits
  • Glass containers / containers larger than 1 liter
  • Strollers
  • Suitcases and rolling bags
  • Weight vests / any type of vest with pockets (exception: lightweight running vests are permissible)
  • Props (including sporting equipment, but this is quite vague, and the article does not explain what that means)
  • Military / fire gear
  • Signs larger than 11 inches by 17 inches

Runners are allowed to wear “small fancy packs to carry food, medicine, ID, cell phones or other necessary small items.”

Also, here is a warning: if you feel inclined to jump the fence and start running in the race even though you failed to sign up and/or qualify (affectionately known as “bandits,”) reconsider if it is worth it to spend some time in jail before you act on that urge. BAA is cracking down on this by not permitting any “bandits” to join the race. If you don’t have a bib number, then you are there to view the race only.

Finally, here are a few more articles to round out today. Asafa Powell’s verdict will be announced on April 10, two days after his countrywoman Sherone Simpson, who also failed a doping test, will have faced her fate. Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic champion and a retired track and field athlete, called out the authorities on anti-doping for their failure to address the doping concerns adequately in his effort to help “safeguard the future of track and field that has seen credibility receive massive hits due to high level doping bursts with leading countries such as Jamaica, Kenya and USA under the spotlight.” If you’ve seen my posts since the start of this blog, then you might notice a trend of doping and anti-doping articles. Lewis is correct: it is not okay to pretend this is not a problem, as this problem could significantly weaken track and field for many.

USATF still under fire, a petition and a doping violation

Behind The Scenes Of What Shouldn’t Have Been: More on Grunewald DQ

This morning marks the third day in a row Gabe Grunewald’s disqualification remains hot news. The track and field world continues to discuss the alarming and obvious problems USATF has within its infrastructure because of the desire for change. Since it is still important news, it is worth discussing further. The featured article on LetsRun.com raises a couple issues that this predicament created (some of which I touched on already, but it goes into greater detail here). According to head of USATF Max Siegel, “our women’s track & field meet officials, who volunteer their time to serve the sport, made a field-of-play decision based on the video evidence they saw. They followed the process laid out in our competition rules.” The statement is incorrect; in no way did USATF follow its own guidelines, and the article walks readers through how that statement is false.

The first issue is that the Jury of Appeals’ initial ruling of “no disqualification” was the final verdict on the matter. After the ruling, no discussion may alter the ruling without “new conclusive evidence.” If this is the case, then Grunewald must continue to be disqualified “after all the evidence is conclusive.” USATF claimed to have “new conclusive evidence” which has yet to be released. If that is the case, then the disqualification must remain in effect. USATF changing the results to reflect a “popular opinion” simply illustrates the lack of adherence to rules and regulation and evades the assumption of responsibility. The fact that Salazar/Hasay went back and said, “we take back the protest,” is irrelevant. Here, the Jury  simply changed the result to reflect what should have been correct in the first place. A just result built on a faulty process does not alter the systemic concerns riddled in its application.

The second issue comes at a problem from the opposite angle: if “new conclusive evidence” was never received, then Grunewald’s disqualification was completely inappropriate, meaning it should have never occurred. If that is the case, then the rules (again) were not followed.  If no “new conclusive evidence” exists, then by definition, the ruling must be final. The problem is that nobody knows what “new conclusive evidence” was received, if any was even done so. That’s the transparency problem the article pinpoints. Moreover, it supports the reason that a public release of how the Jury reached its decision is imperative.

Petition To Create Transparency At USATF Championships

Along with the previous article, the Track and Field Athletes Association (TFAA) is pushing for greater “transparency, accountability and trust-building” in the sport by asking for two athlete representatives to be present for “all protests and appeal procedures at the competition.” While the athletes will not participate in the actual review or decision-making process, their presence will enable them access to “all discussions, video review and written documentation.” In essence, their presence will create a record of happenings that occur so that if questions are asked later, they can discuss the process and whether the officials and/or Jury of Appeals reached a proper result using a just process. I encourage you click to on the link so that you’ll be able to sign the petition yourself.

Ethiopian Concludes Four Month Suspension

Recently, Hirut Beyene completed her four month suspension due to a doping violation from a sample tested on May 5, 2013. The American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) rendered the decision, and found that the sample Beyene provided had “an Adverse Analytical Finding for the stimulant Methylhexanemaine,” which is a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. It is classified as a “Specified Substance,” which allows for a reduced sanction under the rules.

Beyene is a marathoner originally from Ethiopia, and currently lives in New York City. She participated in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5, 2013, where her sample was taken. Her suspension did not begin until she accepted her provisional ban on October 7, 2013, which is likely at or near the time her doping violation was discovered. In addition, all results on and after May 5, 2013 were nullified, as she was disqualified based on her doping violation. At her arbitration hearing, Beyene met the burden “necessary to establish that her positive test was the result of the use of a contaminated supplement;” therefore, a four month suspension was appropriate for the sanction, according to the AAA arbitrator. Beyene finished her suspension on February 7 of this year, and is now permitted to compete.

Stupidity news alert: three elite Spanish shot putters (Carlos Tobalina, Daniel Martinez, and Jose Lorenzo Hernandez) thought it would be funny to perform a “Nazi salute,” take a picture of it and display it for the media to see at a training camp during a meal. Spain’s National Sports Council did not find any humor in the picture, and so it temporarily banned the trio from competition. The Spanish Athletics Federation is currently investigating them as well. Some things are just not okay, and this is one of them. It is just another casualty to the perils of social media.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport put out a published decision for Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (who, if you recall, is cleared for competition and will be competing at this year’s Indoor World Championships), and lawinsport.com highlights the legal aspects of the decision. While Campbell-Brown is back on the competition circuit, Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson faces her fate on April 8 of this year. A silver medalist in the women’s 100 meter dash at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Simpson’s sample contained the stimulant oxilofrine in a test performed at the Jamaican National Championships last June. The tone of the article and the facts of the case suggest that Simpson will likely face a two-year suspension, which is “the maximum sanction allowed for first-time offenders.” Here’s a taste of why: the attorney for the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, Lackston Robinson, found her actions “grossly negligent, [Simpson’s] agent Paul Doyle as disingenuous and the lab report tendered by Simpson witness Professor Wayne McLaughlin, as unreliable.” Hint: the more compliant and apologetic an athlete is when caught doping, the less likely an anti-doping commission will impose the maximum sentence on a person.

Finally, we have some news about Senator Chuck Schumer’s (New York) utter confusion over why the International Olympic Committee chose Sochi as a place to hold the Winter Olympics. He comments that “unfortunately, awarding the Olympic Games to a bad actor does not seem to be a rare occurrence for the Olympics. In the past six years, we have had two countries with shoddy human rights records hosting the games – Russia and China.” I hasten to point out to Schumer that although we are somewhat better than those countries, citizens in states such as Arizona and the majority of the South (just to name a couple examples) would beg to differ. Newsflash: we are not the gold standard for human rights in the world, either. Does that mean we’re advocating that we fix our issues or refuse to bid for any future Olympics until that happens? Who knows.

Reinstatement, disqualification and testing the little ones

Resolution: Gabe Grunewald is Reinstated

If you did not see yesterday’s post regarding the controversy over the women’s 3,000 meter final at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, here’s a quick recap. Heading into the final lap of the race, there was some controversy over the alleged physical contact initiated by Grunewald and Jordan Hasay. Initially, the protest and appeals were denied based on video evidence which clearly displayed no intentional contact. Hasay’s coach, Alberto Salazar, protested and complained until he talked his way into getting Grunewald disqualified. However, the lack of “no additional video evidence” made the ruling quite suspect, and cast a dark shadow over USATF as a national governing body.

Yesterday, USATF made the announcement that Grunewald was reinstated as the winner, and that she will compete at the world championships in a couple of weeks. Numerous athletes and fans tweeted, angry about USATF could disqualify Grunewald. The Track and Field Athletes Association (TFAA), a pro-track and field union which represents the interest of pro track athletes, became involved in the fight as well. It made a statement pushing for “more transparency in the appeals process” in an effort to keep the process honest. Greg Harger, director / coach of the Indiana Invaders track club, welcomed USATF’s bobble, as it “may be the only chance to ‘fix’ the governing body.” Other annoyances track and field athletes mentioned by the article include “the size of fields at national championships, to wearing of logos, to the clumsy way a tie for an Olympic spot was solved at the 2012 U.S. trials.” USATF’s leadership and committee members are blamed by many, although some athletes refuse to comment. Like most sports, the rules could change and relax a little in order to benefit athletes and make the sport more fair. Perhaps it is time to introduce some new leadership in the mix by electing someone who gives a stronger voice to the athletes, but I would imagine that sentiment would fall on deaf ears. From athletes’ and coaches complaints, it would appear that breaking into that infrastructure is about as likely as stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre.

3,000 Disqualification #2: Andrew Bumbalough

Switching gears, we turn to the men’s 3000 and the controversy over Andrew Bumbalough. Bumbalough, who is coached by Jerry Schumacher, was disqualified from the men’s 3k for “interference” on Sunday. Bumbalough finished 8th in the race. He did not find out about his disqualification until nearly an hour later, after he already left for his hotel room. Schumacher and assistant coach Pascal Dobert appealed on his behalf while still at the venue, but it failed. USATF reasoned that Bumbalough “looked over and deliberately stepped out in front of Galen Rupp and made contact at some point, which impeded [Rupp’s] progress illegally.” Video is not provided by the article, but it appears that Ryan Hill and Galen Rupp made contact, not Bumbalough. However, Bumbalough is the one who is pinned with the disqualification. There are speculations that Salazar may have protested, based on the frigid relationship between Salazar and Bumbalough’s coach (and the fact that it is just blatantly wrong to pin him with a DQ). Rumors about the disqualification further incense Bumbalough, as many on message boards and flotrack.org commented that USATF may have “mistakened” him for Hill. While his disqualification does not affect which athletes will attend Worlds in March, Bumbalough is angry about the principle of the matter. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” he was quoted saying, and it is a solid point. He and his agent are pushing for further clarification of what happened, but no news has surfaced yet. It is ridiculous that such a national governing body who continually sends strong teams to World and Olympic championships can hide behind processes in order to evade responsibility, and I certainly support the athletes pushing for a change to increase the integrity of the sport. It may worsen before it becomes better, unfortunately.

Next Year, JADCO Will Test Junior Athletes For Doping

Leaving the USA, we examine the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) which is preparing to test “junior athletes competing at the annual Boys’ and Girls’ Athletic Championship at the National Stadium” in 2015. JADCO’s executive director Carey Brown has begun the foundation leading up to the testing by providing education for the athletes and coaches through “booklets and pamphlets,” as well as conducting workshops to inform all who are involved. Moreover, JADCO teamed up with WADA to help with the oversight and the testing processes. JADCO’s goal is to add another anti-doping agency to further its goal. It is a great idea, as it familiarizes athletes to the testing procedures before some of them become very involved with them.

However, there are some issues with its implementation. While JADCO claims to have enough fiscal resources to perform the testing, it may have an issue with the actual number of tests. Brown stated that “there is no prescribed number of tests,” which could pose as a problem with trying to adhere to what WADA wants…because there are no guidelines. Secretary in the ministry Onika Miller responded that the lack of naming how many tests to perform only gives its organization actually “encourages a variety of methods in respect of [a] doping plan.” There are weakness in the plans thus far, which JADCO admitted exist. However, its transparency enables them to illustrate the positive changes they make so that people can see how the changes make it stronger. It is better to have kinks in the system now and to deal with them this far away from when the testing will take place over having systemic failures when it is crucial to run smoothly.

Finally, Ray Rice and his fiancée were arrested last week for a simple assault at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Whoops.

Outrage at USATF Indoor Nationals over questionable disqualification

Politics or Legitimate Application of Rules? Why the Women’s 3k Is The Hot Topic

This morning, we start with some heated news about the Women’s 3k at USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. Yesterday, Gabriele Grunewald surged ahead of Shannon Rowbury and Jordan Hasay in the final lap to claim the win and the honor of competing at the World Championships in Poland. In a stunning manner, Grunewald was ultimately disqualified from the competition for having some physical contact with Jordan Hasay. Absent going to arbitration or within a court of law, Coach Alberto Salazar’s protest led to her successful disqualification, which allows Hasay and Rowbury (Hasay is Salazar’s athlete) to compete at Worlds. The story behind her disqualification is sickening, and illustrates how the USATF Rules are long overdue for a change, as well as not letting politics influence decisions.

Here are the basics of how the disqualification went down. During the race, an official raised a yellow flag with about 180 meters left in the race. The official raised the flag because the official thought there may have been some physical contact between the two athletes (Hasay and Grunewald). After the race, the head referee went to speak with the official in question. After conversing, they decided that no foul had occurred, meaning that Grunewald was the winner. Salazar felt otherwise, so he protested the result by arguing that Hasay was fouled. Grunewald received a heads up from Nike Coach Jerry Schumacher (there is a frosty relationship between Schumacher and Salazar) and warned her to “do something about it” because Salazar “will get his way.” Grunewald tried to go over to figure out what was going on with the officials, but she learned nothing for about 30 minutes. When the officials came out, one of them informed Grunewald that the protest was “easily denied,” and that she had “nothing to worry about.”

Salazar was not easily thwarted. After initiating a protest, a coach can appeal the decision to the Jury of Appeals. Rule 119, 4(a) outlines the basics of how the Jury of Appeal is to proceed. The rule says,

“The Jury of Appeal shall, as its sole function in matters resulting from a Referee
decision, determine if the decision of the Referee or the Chief Race Walking Judge is
based upon adequate evidence and within the scope of the authority given to such
person. If such determination is in doubt, the Jury of Appeal shall consult with all
relevant persons and may consider other available evidence, including any available
video evidence. The decision of the Referee or the Chief Race Walking Judge shall be
upheld unless shown to be clearly erroneous.”

In practice, unless there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary (or new evidence), substantial discretion is given to the initial ruling. Salazar’s appeal was denied; Grunewald was the winner, and everyone could go home. One would think that would end the story, considering that the Jury of Appeals has the final say. However, somehow Salazar (whether by his persistence, negotiation skills, or the fact that he’s a respected and revered coach) convinced the Jury of Appeals to reopen the discussion.

Here is where the story becomes absolutely mind-boggling. Eagle Eye, the company in charge of the instant replay video features at the meet, admitted that no new video evidence was presented – without that, the decision to deny an appeal is an absolute no-brainer. However, the third appeal appeared to be made without any brains in the decision-making process. The appeal was accepted, and it overturned the original “a-okay” ruling, which disqualified Grunewald from the race.

Post-decision actions make USATF looks incredibly guilty. It refuses to let anyone see the video in question, it refuses to talk to anyone and it refuses to provide any additional information on the matter. USATF, however, is violating its own rule in its refrain from releasing the”additional video evidence.” If this is an attempt to try and fabricate video evidence to make it seem that the added video evidence was there all along, USATF is in serious trouble. There is no evidence to suggest that at all, but it is suspicious. Most likely, USATF knows it is wrong and is trying to figure out a way to cover its contradictions. The United States Olympic Committee attempted to resolve the matter in an informal manner, but it failed. Now, an official arbitration request is in order, which will result in a hearing to be held later this week.

There is some evidence that Nike bullies its employees, and that Salazar’s enthusiastic and repeated attempts to push for his athletes (who are Nike athletes) was the result of the substantial pressure put on Salazar. The article suggests watching the video for yourself – it starts at 10:00, and the infraction occurs at 10:07. I watched – it just looks like Hasay stumbled on her own. It will be interesting to see whether politics will win this out, or whether Grunewald will be reinstated. The fact that the United States Olympic Committee has taken such an interest in the matter will likely reveal the idiocy of bending to one’s will simply based on reputation alone. High reputation does not mean truth; while a respected person does carry substantial justification, it is not absolute, and anyone can make a mistake (or be utterly wrong and furious about it).

The first article ran so long today because I found it interesting, so I’ll leave you with some mentions of other articles. World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown, one of Jamaica’s best sprinters (and one of the best sprinters in the world) is finally cleared for competition. The IAAF suspended her from competition for two years, but was reinstated by the Court of Arbitration in Sports.

While Campbell-Brown is just getting back into the sport, the Swedish are livid about their top player, Nicklas Bäckström, testing positive for a banned substance. The IOC refused to let him play, infuriating fans. The Swede found out two hours before the gold medal match took place, and the Swedes didn’t even get in a score as Canada shut them out 3-0. It’s a fishy situation; apparently, everyone knew that he was taking the pill which caused the positive test. The team doctors knew he was taking the pill, and Bäckström had been tested three times before the Olympics with no issues. He had been taking the pill for years to combat allergies – even taking the pill through Vancouver 2010.

Finally, the Eugene Marathon is offering more prize money during its marathon this summer in celebration of a “week long celebration of running in TrackTown USA.” 

 

Ineligibility lawsuit, bidding wars and step downs

High School Athlete Sues To Recover Eligibility 

Friday mornings are typically quiet in the legal news, but there are a few noteworthy articles to consider. First, we start in California. High school senior Amir Ali Patterson is suing the California Interscholastic Federation – Southern Section (“CIF-SS”), regarding two semesters of athletic eligibility CIF-SS denied him last October. Patterson, a standout shot putter, has had an unusual path to high school. Patterson advanced a grade at a young age, but was pulled back when he entered ninth grade at Ivy Academia. The charter school proved to be difficult for Patterson, and later that year, he was home-schooled. The rule is that once a student begins ninth grade, the student has eight consecutive semesters to exhaust the student’s eligibility to compete in high school athletics. Once that time runs out, a student may no longer compete. Patterson triggered his eight semester eligibility when he attended Ivy Academia; the following year, he attended Crespi High School for three years (six semesters). According to CIF-SS, Patterson’s eligibility is over, and he is no longer allowed to compete in high school athletics.

Similar to the majority of rules in the life, there are exceptions. One exception CIF-SS offers is called a “hardship waiver.” A student may receive a hardship waiver if the student exhibits some form of “extenuating circumstance,” or a substantial reason to grant semesters back. Here, Patterson seeks a hardship waiver based on whether “the principal at the first high school confirms in writing that going back to the original grade would better serve the student’s overall development.” Patterson’s mother, Amina Fakir, believes that Patterson’s reversion to his natural grade was significant, given Patterson’s diagnosis of Asynchronous Development.  In short, Asynchronous Development, is a condition where “the intellectual, emotional and physical abilities fall out of sync…in theory, a 13-year-old with the condition could be a 16-year-old intellectually, a 13-year old. in terms of physical ability, and a 10-year-old in terms of maturity.” His condition explains why he had to pull out of Ivy Academia. Unfortunately for Patterson, CIF-SS denied his request and denied his appeal this past September and October, respectively. There are rumors speculating that the Los Angeles Superior Court will hear the case this Monday. Patterson’s attorney is David Greifinger, a well-known figure who has represented world-class athletes in the past.

Patterson signed his letter of intent to compete at UCLA on a track and field scholarship for this fall.

Kazakhstan Promises Cheaper Winter Games in 2022

The Winter Games are nearly complete, and Almaty, Kazakhstan is already using negative components of Sochi to make itself a more appealing bid for the Winter Games in 2022. No venue is chosen yet, but Almaty is one of five candidates to host the Games. The other contenders include Beijing; Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Kkraine; and Oslo, Norway. Almaty lost in 2014 to Sochi, but believes it has a better shot this time. It claims to have “eight of the 12 venues required for the Olympics,” with two more that will be ready by 2017. Sochi cost Russia $51 billion dollars; Andrey Kryukov, an executive board member of Kazakhstan’s national Olympic body, maintains that their anticipated cost of the Winter Games will only run about $2-3 billion dollars. Almaty claims that costs are saved by “relying on existing venues,” a contrast against Russia’s scheme of building everything from the ground up. You can see how well that idea held up – ask the journalists. There is still time left for the five countries to do some tweaking and dealing; the IOC will narrow the finalist list in July (article isn’t clear whether it is July this year or next, but it would appear that it is July of this year), and the IOC will make its final selection on July 31, 2015.

Chief Executive of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency Will Leave in May

Aurora Andruska, chief executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (“ASADA”), announced earlier this week that she will not renew her contract this May, effectively stepping down from the position. Andruska, who held this role since May 2010, oversaw the investigation of her predecessor, Richard Ings, which is known in Australia as “the darkest day in Australian sport” last February. Australian Sports Minister Peter Dutton spoke highly of Andruska’s long career in public service (37 years), and wished her well in the future.

Also in Australian news, Athletics Australia signed a new agreement with Adidas, replacing Asics as the official apparel and footwear supplier. In running health news, researchers recently discovered that simply running is not enough to reduce heart disease; “diet, stress reduction, other risk factors, and regular checkups” are the keys in keeping the risk of heart disease low.

An LGBT running club in the USA is showing support for the LGBT community in Russia by running enough miles to cover the distance between New York City and Moscow during the Olympic Games. They’re well above their goal already, and they have a few days to rack up even more before the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday.

In stupid news, or “news that shouldn’t be news,” three members of the Oklahoma Sooners were penalized for “for getting more food [pasta] at a graduation banquet than they should have.” Clearly, Oklahoma has a problem with hearty appetites. Oklahoma mandated the three gentlemen to “donate $3.83…to the charities of their choice” (they actually donated $5) o reinstate their eligibility…which, according to the NCAA, is not a violation. The perpetrators were not identified, but social media picked up on two of them, who were offensive lineman. Really?

In competition news, the USA Indoor Championships start today, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and run until Sunday evening. Finally, Bucknell University hosts the Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships. The event goes off today at noon, and continues until Sunday evening. Go Bison!

Struggles, achievements, and a Symmonds book

Rio 2016 Already Facing Troubles, and We’re Only 2 Years Out

Rio is already struggling to meet Olympic requirements and regulations, and the 2016 Olympics are closing in fast. Part of playing host to the world’s top competition involves a ton of work, including but not limited to building or improving many structures and facilities. One of the necessary components of an Olympic Games is a doping testing facility. Problem: Brazil does not have one. Solution seems obvious – build a doping facility from scratch. But Marty Saugy, the head of the Swiss anti-doping lab, expressed his concerns about Brazilian authorities’ inability to build a “credible doping lab” to test athletes around the Olympic Games period.

Saugy is unsure whether building a new facility to test thousands of athlete during the Olympic Games is even possible. He told Reuters Televsion that “his is a big challenge. It means now the laboratory has been revoked and, to our knowledge, they are rebuilding a new building for the laboratory of the Olympics in Rio, and they have to rebuild the entire team.” It is already a difficult situation for the World Cup, with substantially less athletes than what would appear at the Olympics. In fact, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stripped Rio of its WADA license, precluding Rio from testing World Cup athletes for banned substances next year. Saugy’s lab has assumed responsibility for testing during the World Cup. Now, all samples will be flown to Switzerland, where they would test there. (I would like to take a moment and point out why closer countries with reputable testing facilities were unable to step in and test the samples, but the article doesn’t explain why). There is a dire concern that if a test turns out positive, the players would have already played in matches due to the delayed time schedule, and it would take time before those players are removed. Moreover, if those players end up on a winning team before the results are in, an entire team could be stripped of its, instead of just a few players staying out of the match. While this is the first Olympics to be held on the South American continent, it does not excuse their issues with preparation. WADA and IOC are in constant thought, trying to come up with viable solutions to ensure that preparations turn around.

Jamaican World Class Fitness Facility Lauded

Five months ago, Jamaica opened the doors to its new sports development testing facility called the “David Riley-led Technique Lab.” The purpose of the facility is to help coaches and athletes test and develop their skills in any sport. It has the ability to test “body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, power, speed/quickness, agility, reaction time, flexibility, balance and coordination, cardiovascular endurance, motor skills, eye/hand coordination, among others.” It can provide comprehensive individualized results to tell athletes which parts of the body need work. The facility is the first of its kind in that region of the world, and its unveiling attracts international attention.  IAAF director Abdel Malek El Hebil visited last week, and found it to be a “very good facility.” The facility does not only serve elite athletes; anyone in the region interested in general fitness is welcome to visit. It offers individual programs, as well as free workshops and exercise programs.

Nick Symmonds Book to Debut In June 2014

In U.S. news, World Champion silver medalist and 2-time Olympian Nick Symmonds is a stellar athlete and an activist in the movement to change governing bodies that “abuse the sport,” as he puts it. Now, Symmonds is going to print. This past October, Cool Titles, a publishing house run by two lawyers, approached Symmonds about a book deal. Symmonds liked the idea; after signing the contract in December, he began to write. Recently, he completed his first draft, and is already working on his second one.

The book encompasses much of his life – how he started off as a nobody trying to become something big…and then does. It is full of stories “running geeks would like” – among other important events.  Symmonds also includes ” plenty of behind-the-curtain stories about life on the international track circuit. Recreational drug use, travel, and ‘sex on the circuit’ are all included in detail.” Moreover, Symmonds will include “the truth” – a phrase that may incur litigation – which will hopefully be avoided (at the very least, well-defended) by the two lawyers that are helping him with his book. I believe it will be an interesting read that appeals to runners, track and field fans and Symmonds fans. Keep an eye out for a critic’s view in July, as I will dedicate a news post solely to his book.

New Balance announced that they will sponsor triathlete Lukas Verzbicas. Verzbicas, a former high school standout, won numerous national titles at Indoor Nationals (New Balance) and Cross-Country (Foot Locker), as well as still holding the record in the high school two-mile. While Verzbicas recently added a sponsor, Kara Goucher is still on the search for one. Goucher, a stand-out distance runner, had Nike as her sponsor for the last twelve years. Now that her contract is up, she is considering other sponsors as well, “just to see what’s out there.” Nike is still a consideration, but she wants to explore her options this time around.

In international news, we learn that Olympics in London 2012 cost Kenya Sh231.6m, or 2.69 million U.S. Dollars. I don’t even want to think of how much the U.S. spent on 2012 Olympics. Finally, Lauryn Williams, a gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, and Elana Meyers earned a silver medal in the women’s Olympic bobsled in yesterday’s competition. Williams became the 5th woman in history to medal in both the Winter and Summer games, and narrowly missed becoming the first female athlete in history to win gold in both. In addition, former heptathlete Jamie Greubel and shot putter Aja Evans teamed together to take the bronze medal behind Williams and Meyers.