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.
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.
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.