Coaching ban, more Rio 2016 problems and Commonwealth Games bid

400 Meter Legend Suffers Four Year Coaching Ban

This morning, we start with some news out of Nigeria. A couple days ago, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria imposed a four-year coaching ban on legendary 400 meter American runner Lee Edward Evans for giving a minor athlete performance enhancing drugs. Evans, the first human to run under 45 seconds in a 400, won two Olympic gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. His fame does not exonerate his behavior; the ban prevents Evans from coaching any athlete for the next four years.  Abass Rauf, another coach involved with the incident, will suffer a lifetime ban from coaching track and field. The panel found direct evidence tied to Rauf, while only circumstantial evidence points to Evans. A third coach, Tony Osheku, was accused as well, but the panel agreed that he was unaware of Evans or Abass giving substances to a minor athlete.

Recently, the athlete (a minor, so her name remains anonymous) tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. She challenged it, arguing that she had no intention to take the drugs, and that the reason she tested positive was due to her coaches. At the panel hearing, she testified that “Abass took her to a medical doctor who injected her with an unknown substance despite the fact that she was not sick.” She testified further that the injection caused her to collapse. Subsequently, she inquired of Rauf why she needed an injection. He asked her to trust him, and also “not to disclose what happened to anyone.” Fortunately, she did reveal the information to her mother.

Evans admitted that he provided her with supplements (amino acid complete and metabolic infusions) between February and March of last year. His reasoning for giving her supplements is suspect: “he gave the athlete the substance because women need supplements for their health and that the [substances] given were not prohibited.” The article does not differentiate how Evans’ admission and direct involvement with the athlete’s positive test led to a four year ban and not the lifetime ban Rauf suffers.

It did not take much for the panel to find that both Evans and Rauf were guilty of providing performance enhancing drugs which caused the athlete’s positive drug test. On cross examination, “Abass contradicted himself by saying that the injection was given in the doctor’s apartment and not in the hospital.” Moreover, the panel found that Evans’ provision of the supplements to the athlete was “without the knowledge or consent of the medical doctor and assistant coach attached to the Lagos State Athletics team.” Since the evidence against Evans is only circumstantial, there is a small possibility Evans may appeal the panel’s decision. However, given the facts of the article, it is unlikely an appeal would succeed.

Top Official Resigns; Preparations for Rio 2016 Worsen

We turn from the problems in Nigeria to the rising maelstrom of problems in Rio, Brazil. Maria Silvia Bastos Marquez, president of the Municipal Olympic Company (EOM), announced her resignation yesterday, which becomes effective next month. Since 2011, Marquez took responsibility over “all city-level projects associated with the Games.” In stepping down from this position, she will return to her work in the private sector. However, given the extensive knowledge she acquired throughout the past few years, she will continue to provide guidance as an unofficial consultant.

Unfortunately, Marquez’ departure marks the second “key Games administrator to stand down” after the President of the Olympic Delivery Authority (APO) Marcio Fortes resigned last August. Her departure, coupled with the unsettled government in allocating responsibilities for the Games, creates another large hole to a slowly sinking ship. The precarious disaster is exacerbated by the “fundamental” meeting among the three levels of government (municipal, state, federal) scheduled to take place today, but it has been postponed indefinitely. I guess maintaining grudges and pointing fingers is far more important than reaching a common ground. The IOC can entertain its patience for so long, and it is disconcerting that it allowed Rio’s procrastination to last this long.

South Africa and Canada Make 2022 Commonwealth Bids

Staying with international news, Durban, South Africa and Edmonton, Canada made announcements this week that “they intend to bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.” Individuals associated with these Games voiced their fears about the lack of bidding “because all the competitors speak English and because the atmosphere is less intense than the Olympics.” The Olympics is the most intense event for the majority of athletes, and it is challenging to match that type of competition. The Olympics do not happen often, its standards are among the most difficult to attain, and it is unique in that a large portion of the world focuses on those athletes during the competition.

The intensity for the Commonwealth Games has suffered more oversight due to the increase in world championships in individual competitions. What is interesting is that the article does not mention how it will attract more individuals to compete, nor does it offer an explanation as to how it will raise higher interests in the Games overall. It does not help thac ountries looking to host the Commonwealth Games must endure similar problems countries have in hosting the Olympics: proper venues, space to house the athletes, etc. Some fear that the investment may not be worth it; requiring Olympic-level hosting abilities without the benefits and rewards that the Olympics bring to a country asks much of a country. However, South Africa never hosted a Commonwealth Games before, so its potential newness to the mix may make the Games more appealing. No decisions will be made until the Federation’s General Assembly congregates in New Zealand in September 2015.

In Olympic news, bidders for the 2024 Olympics do not have to worry about Mexico vying for a hosting opportunity – it is unlikely it will not submit a bid. In IOC news, Ser Miang Nd and Takeda will head up the IOC Finance and Marketing Commissions. Finally, find out what changes will occur at this year’s Boston Marathon.

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