Olympic bids, barred athletes, suspensions and more trial updates

We’ll start the morning off with news about the US’ consideration of bidding for a hosting opportunity for the 2024 Summer Olympics. While the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) expressed interest in submitting a bid at the end of this year or early next year (not to mention support from the IOC), there is a possibility the US will not put in a bid at all. Scott Blackmun, USOC chief executive, said “It is a very informal process and our goal is to make a decision (on whether to proceed) by the end of the year and there haven’t been any formal deadlines or submissions.” It is uncertain whether the USOC is trying to keep its discussions clandestine among 35 of the largest US cities. Next month, the committee hopes to narrow the list to just a few cities, and will choose a city by the beginning of next year at the latest. However, if the committee feels that no city has the capabilities to win, it may not put in a bid and wait for the Winter Games in 2026.

US has not hosted the Olympics since Salt Lake City in 2002. The US’ hesitancy and devoted research derives from the “embarrassing rebukes the last two time the they put forward bids” – see bids from 2012 (New York) and 2016 (Chicago). Those bids damaged a relationship between the USOC and the IOC, and it has taken until now for the IOC to encourage the US to submit a bid (though, I think the IOC is motivated by the potential money they could make if the US were to host).

A related article coming from the LA Times highlights its city in its hope to receive the nod from the USOC. If LA were to win the overall bid and host the 2024 Olympics, it will be the city’s third time in history to host the Games. LA will have to compete with Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as these potential candidates have just as much a chance to secure a bid as LA does. LA does face some problems, even though they hosted twice before. Its Coliseum would require “a serious upgrade,” as its antiquated structure would have to be modernized. Moreover, LA would need to construct new buildings to accommodate venues and house athletes. In 1984, the IOC voiced its displeasure when the athletes were split up into UCLA and USC dorms, so that’s something to consider as well. The article notes that internationally, Rome and Paris are known as the early favorites to host the 2024 Games.

In international news, a high Israeli court prevented  a Gaza Strip Olympian “from leaving the coastal strip to participate in a marathon in the West Bank.” Since 2007, Israel has severely restricted the movement of “people and goods” out of the Gaza strip. Egypt, the next-door neighbor, also enforces this “closure-policy.”

We turn to an update about the Belarussian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk. The IAAF, the entity responsible for issuing the ban, reasoned that a four-year ban as opposed to a lifetime ban is appropriate in this case. Apparently, a legal loophole formed in Ostapchuk’s unique case. “Because Ostapchuk had been notified of both failed tests at the same time, she was not subjected to the life ban usually given to athletes who have failed tests twice.” Although Ostapchuk does meet the criteria necessary for a lifetime ban in having two positive drug tests, the fact that she was not notified until both results came at the same time means that only one penalty will be issued. If you think about it, it makes sense, and is in line with the intent of the rule. The purpose of testing athletes is to ensure that athletes do not cheat the system by using illegal supplements and techniques to gain an unfair advantage. If the testing does not indicate that the athlete is in the wrong until much later, then it would be wrong to doubly punish an athlete for lack of awareness (even if the athlete knew he/she was cheating the system). You cannot punish an athlete for past and future wrongdoing if evidence of both happenings were discovered simultaneously.

In more banning news, Sherone Simpson will officially appeal her 18-month suspension handed down by the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Switching continents, we learn that Athletics South Africa will elect a new executive board for its national governing body after months of unrest. The election will take place on May 24 of this year.

Finally, here are some updates about the Pistorius case. Yesterday, Pistorius broke down on the witness stand during his testimony, and the judge adjourned for the day once it was obvious he was inconsolable. Today, Pistorius faced some tough cross-examination from prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Pistorius admitted that he killed his girlfriend and that he took responsibility, but emphasized that “it was a mistake.”

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