LAST LAP — April

HERE’S THIS MONTH’S collection of short takes on generally off-track activities that have gone/will go a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed.

Here’s a sight you’ll not see again in WA’s mixed 4x4s: henceforth everybody will be running in the same order, man/woman/man/woman. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

Notable WA Council Decisions

The first WA Council meeting of the year (and 227th in its history) produced some significant actions:

•The running order for mixed-sex 4x4s, heretofore left up to the choice of each team, has been set as man/woman/man/woman.

•Dates were set for two major ’24 championships. The World Indoor (Glasgow, Scotland) will be March 1–3; the World Juniors (Lima, Peru) will be August 20–25.

•Bidding was opened for the ’24 World Relays.

•The mile has been added to the World Road Championships, which will debut in Riga, Latvia, ’23. The mile will join the 5K and half-marathon on the program.


Eugene Readies For Tourists

The World Championships will obviously be a big deal for Eugene, and the city of 170,000 is bracing itself for the logistics of hosting some 30,000 visitors in the July 15–24 competition window.

High demand for lodging is part of the picture. Says one official with Travel Lane County, “Hotels right now are pretty full here in the metro area.”

There are still short-term rentals available, but prices are spiking for prime dates and locations. One rental near Hayward Field is reportedly charging $5000 a night.

Officials say there are many more rooms and lower prices along the coast, for those willing to take on the roughly 3-hour round trip. Many fans have already booked lodging a little bit closer in Corvallis (c50M north) and Roseburg (c70M south).

Travel Lane County and partners around the state are working with private charter bus providers to set up packages people can buy to get to and from Eugene.

Park-and-ride sites are being set up around Eugene where fans will be able to access stadium shuttles, and tourism officials are also touting local bike share programs.



Journey To Gold Series Sites & Dates Announced

USATF has tagged a dozen meets for inclusion in this year’s Journey To Gold series of high-end pro competitions. The series will begin and end with new fixtures, starting with a meet in Bermuda and wrapping up with a street meet in Indianapolis.

All the meets will be available for viewing in some form or another. The schedule (with coverage provider in parentheses):

April
09 — USATF Bermuda Games (NBC), 16 — Mt. SAC Golden Games (CNBC), 23 — Oregon Relays (usatf.tv); 28–30 — Drake Relays (usatf.tv)

May
06–07 — USATF Multis (usatf.tv); 19 — USATF Distance Classic (usatf.tv); 21 — USATF Throws Festival (usatf.tv); 27 — USATF 10,000 Champs (usatf.tv); 28 — Pre Classic (CNBC, NBC)

June
12 — USATF New York City GP (NBC); 24–26 USATF Champs/WC Trials (CNBC, NBC)

September
18 — USATF Indy Street Games (NBC).


New York City Added To Continental Tour Gold

At the top of the WA food chain when it comes to big invitational meets, of course, are the 14 meets which constitute the Diamond League (by-event and by-meet breakdowns published in the February issue).

The next step down as Monaco continues to bring order to the worldwide calendar is the constantly expanding Continental Tour, which is now at 146 meets, divided into Gold (12), Silver (26), Bronze (49) & Challenger (59) levels.

In March, WA announced the addition of 2 new U.S.-centric Gold meets for this year, the series kicking off with the inaugural USATF Bermuda Games on April 09 and the USATF New York GP on June 12.

The 12 Gold meets on the ‘22 calendar(* = also a Journey To Gold meet):

April — *09 Devonshire, Bermuda; *16 Walnut, California
May — 07 Kasarani, Kenya; 08 Tokyo, Japan; 31 Ostrava, Czech Republic
June — 03 Bydgoszcz, Poland; 06 Hengelo, Netherlands; *12 Randalls Island, New York; 14 Turku, Finland
July — none
August — 08 Székesfehérvár, Hungary
September — 04 Chorzów, Poland; 11 Zagreb, Croatia.


No Russians/Belarusians In Diamond League

As we reported in this space last month, the WA reaction to the invasion of Ukraine progressed to the point where no Russian or Belarusian athletes would be allowed in this year’s World Championships, indoors or out. And that includes ANA athletes.

Subsequently, the Diamond League took a similar hard line, saying, “The Wanda Diamond League meetings accepted the recommendation of the board that Authorised Neutral Athletes (ANA) and Belarus athletes be excluded from all Diamond League meetings for the foreseeable future.”

Two Russian women — competing under ANA status — won DL titles last year: Mariya Lasitskene (high jump) and Anzhelika Sidorova (pole vault).


USOPC & NCAA Announce New Agreement

The two powerful governing bodies have moved to strengthen their collaboration through 2024.

An NCAA release said, in part, “The new agreement terms are rooted in the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank recommendations and provide a foundation for the NCAA and USOPC liaison duties outlined in the NCAA constitution. The agreement outlines tactics intended to test joint support of Olympic sport management, pilot Paralympic sport growth strategies and collaborate on shared promotion of Olympic and Paralympic sports at the college level.”

Said USOPC’s CEO Sarah Hirshland, “Our collegiate sports system is an American treasure worth protecting, and we are honored to partner with the NCAA to activate shared sustainability efforts to preserve broad-based sport opportunities on campus through this cooperation agreement.”

Activation of the agreement will be monitored by the NCAA Div. I Council and the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council.


Doping Hammer Drops On Lashmanova Again

Russian walk star Yelena Lashmanova lost the ’14 & ’15 seasons to a doping ban. The 29-year-old has now been hit with a second round of offenses and the price she will pay is a big one.

It includes not just another 2-year suspension from competition, but also the loss of two major medals. Gone are her golds from the ’12 Olympics and ’13 World Championships, following AIU charges based on LIMS data and the McLaren evidence.

The AIU reported, “Lashmanova has accepted the sanction proposed by the AIU, including disqualification of her results between February 18, 2012, and January 03, 2014.”

China is now set to have a clean sweep of the women’s 20K medals from London as ’16 saw the retroactive doping DQ of another Russian, Olga Kaniskina, who had originally finished 2nd.

China can now claim a sweep, as Shenjie Qieyang has moved from bronze to silver to gold, with teammates Hong Liu and Xiuzhi Lu now claiming the other two podium spots.


Transgender Policies Making Headlines

The worldwide debate over the participation of trans athletes in women’s sports has touched the track & field world, with fierce opinions being expressed on both sides.

Caster Semenya has again taken particular exception to WA’s DSD guidelines, which have forced her to leave her hallmark event, the 800.

She tweeted, “So according to World Athletics and its members I’m a male when it comes to 400m, 800m, 1500m and 1600m! Then a female in 100m,200m, and long distance events. What a research. What kind of a fool would do that?”

Distance legend Sonia O’Sullivan, in an editorial for the Irish Times, said, “I don’t think that DSD ruling went far enough, not even close, limiting it to events from 400m to the mile; it should have been across the board… Right now we don’t have any transgender female athletes competing at the top of world athletics, and maybe we are getting a bit too concerned too soon, but maybe we’re not, when you consider we didn’t look at the DSD situation early enough.”

Gold medal hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn tweeted, “Women (gender assigned at birth) will not have a chance in sports if they continue to allow men to participate in competition. That’s not fair. Live as you want to live, but on a sporting level, I do not agree with what is happening.”

For his part, Seb Coe said that women’s sports are in “a very fragile” place and has repeated WA’s stance that “gender cannot trump biology.” ◻︎

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