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.

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