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 It means now the laboratory has been revoked and, to our knowledge, they are rebuilding a new building for the laboratory of the Olympics in Rio, and they have to rebuild the entire team.”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.
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.
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.