LAST LAP — March

John Landy is on the rail as the Miracle Mile takes off. He’s flanked by (r–l) Rich Ferguson, Murray Halberg, Vic Milligan, Roger Bannister, Ian Boyd, David Law & Bill Baillie.

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 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.


The Passing Of Aussie Great John Landy

Miling legend John Landy, has died at 91. Perhaps best known as the second man to break the 4:00 barrier, the Australian followed Roger Bannister’s feat by 46 days. In that ’54 race in Turku, Finland, Landy (who had ranked No. 1 in the world the previous year) set a World Record 3:57.9, which was rounded up under the rules of the time to 3:58.0. En route he also broke Wes Santee’s WR at 1500 with a 3:41.8.

Later that summer, Landy raced Bannister in the “Miracle Mile” at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, where he led most of the way until the end of the final turn, when he looked over his left shoulder as Bannister passed him on the right to win, 3:58.8–3:59.6.

But while Bannister never won an Olympic medal, Landy did in his final season, grabbing the bronze at the ’56 Games. He had earned a reputation as the consummate solo runner, able to churn blazing times on his own. As Bannister wrote of him, “John Landy had shown me what a race could really be at its greatest. He is the sort of runner I could never become, and for this I admire him.”

In later life a businessman and an author of two books on natural history, Landy also served for 5 years as governor of the state of Victoria. He died on February 24, in Castlemain, Australia, of Parkinson’s.


Meet Mary Cain, Triathlete

Former prep distance wunderkind Mary Cain has announced that she’s throwing in her lot with the triathlon world, returning to her swimming roots and, she says, “learning how to bike.”

Cain was away from track competition for three years after departing the Nike Oregon Project and the coaching of Alberto Salazar. Since then, she has gone public about her treatment by Salazar and others associated with the program. As a result, Salazar has been banned from coaching for life by SafeSport.

In ’20, she ran a few indoor meets, including a 4:42.78 mile and 9:07.51 at 3000. The former World Junior 3000 champion hasn’t raced since.

Of the triathlon, she says, “I’m so excited to see where this takes me and to try to compete at the highest level possible for me. But honestly, I have no idea what that is going to be.”


Ukraine Invasion Affects World Of Sport

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the world and hit the track & field scene as well. At first the IOC merely condemned the breach of the Olympic Truce, the notion that nations should remain at peace during an Olympic Games as well as 7 days on each side of the event.

World Athletics chimed in with a statement saying it was “appalled by developments in Ukraine” and there was no reason to believe its March events, the Race Walking Team Championships and the World Indoor, would be affected. It stated that Russia was not eligible to send teams anyway, without mentioning that individual Russians could be attending as Authorized Neutral Athletes.

However, as worldwide condemnation of the Russian aggression grew, the IOC went a step further and recommended that Russians and their Belarusian allies be barred indefinitely from international events.

WA quickly toed the line, on March 01 banning all Russians and Belarusians (including ANAs) from all World Athletic Series events “for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect.”

Said Seb Coe, “Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”



Gatlin Gives Himself A Birthday Present

It had to happen eventually. On February 10, the day he turned 40, Justin Gatlin retired from the sport with a poetic sendoff on Instagram.

It brought to a close a long sprint career that saw him win 5 Olympic medals including the ’04 gold in the 100, 10 World Outdoor medals (4 gold) and 2 World Indoor dash golds. The Tennessee alum World Ranked 10 times at 100 and 5 at 200. All despite a 4-year ban that ran from ’06 to ’10.

Gatlin’s farewell read in part, “Dear Track… My life changed the moment I knew your name… With love comes challenges, and you gave so many throughout my career. Some that were easier than others. And some that hurt more than life itself.

“But through all my ups and downs, Victories and losses, I have loved you Track… You gave me tears of sadness and of joy, Lessons learned that will never be forgotten… I’m grateful for our relationship and the many others that I’ve had along the way. The torch is passed but the love will never fade. On your mark, get set…. Gone!”


Kentucky To Get New Indoor Track

Perhaps the march to oversized indoor tracks in the United States is not inexorable as it has seemed at times. This season, most of the buzz about fast tracks seems to center on 200 ovals, from the old (Boston University) to the new (Chicago’s Gately Center, Spokane’s The Podium).

Now Kentucky has announced a new 200m “high-banked” oval inside a dedicated track building that will be adjacent to the outdoor track. The price tag on the project is $20 million. Said Wildcat coach Lonnie Greene, “I’m excited about what a dedicated training facility, highlighted by a state-of-the-art banked track, will do for us in sustaining a championship-level program.”

Meanwhile, the existing 290m track in Nutter Field House, built in ’93, will go away as the building becomes a football-only facility with wall-to-wall turf.

As fundraising is still in progress, no specific timeline for the project has been released.


Okagbare Gets At Least A 10-Year Ban

The doping hammer has fallen hard on Blessing Okagbare, the Nigerian sprinter who was pulled from the Olympics after qualifying for the semis of the 100 when it was revealed that she had failed an out-of-competition drug test.

The AIU has slapped her with a career-ending 10-year ban, noting that she had tested positive for EPO on June 20, then positive for HGH on July 19. A third charge was added when she refused to cooperate with the investigation after she was asked to produce documents and electronic storage devices.

But that’s not all!

The AIU has indicated an additional 4-year ban for test evasion might be coming once all the details are ironed out from criminal charges filed in New York against Eric Lira, the El Paso man who allegedly supplied substances to Okagbare and an as-yet unnamed Nigerian male.

The FBI complaint against Lira includes incriminating messages from “Athlete 1,” whom the AIU believes is Okagbare. In the messages she lists drugs she was requesting and asks for advice on whether it is safe to be tested at a particular point.

Lira, based in El Paso, has described himself as a “kinesiologist and naturopathic ND” but apparently is not a licensed doctor. He is the first American charged under the Rodchenkov Act.


Britain’s Loss Of Tokyo 4×1 Silver Confirmed

Great Britain lost its silver medal in the men’s 4×1 from Tokyo on CJ Ujah’s doping violation. CAS confirmed the positive in February. Ujah, who ran leadoff on the squad, did not contest the test results, outside of maintaining that he had not knowingly ingested any banned substance.

The DQ promotes Canada to silver and China to bronze. Said Ujah, “I’m sorry that this situation has cost my teammates the medals they worked so hard and so long for, and which they richly deserved. That is something I will regret for the rest of my life.”

Responded third-leg Richard Kilty, “To finally reach the pinnacle and win an Olympic medal, and then to lose it because one person has just been sloppy and reckless with what’s gone into their body is heartbreaking, Now he’s made that mistake I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him because me, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake have lost a medal at the hands of his mistakes.”


NCAA Eases Up On Marijuana

Collegiate athletes who are recreational marijuana users now face a testing landscape that is not quite as draconian as it has been in the past, as the NCAA has decided to be more lenient on marijuana positives to keep pace with “rapidly evolving public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use.”

With immediate effect, the maximum THC threshold has been raised from 35 nanograms per milliliter to 150. That matches the threshold that USADA uses.

How much marijuana consumption can trigger a positive test? The answer is complicated and depends on many individual variables, so we won’t wade into that discussion except to note that in some cases marijuana use can be detected up to 30 days later.

NCAA athletes can keep their eligibility after 3 positive tests, but after test 1, they must be on a school management/education plan. They can lose eligibility, however, if at any point they are found to be out of compliance with that plan. ◻︎

Subscription Options

Monthly Subscription
(Digital Only)

  • Access to Current Articles
  • Access to Current Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach

$7.95 every 1 month (recurring)

Annual Subscription
(Digital Only)

  • Access to Current Articles
  • Access to Current Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach

$79 every 1 year (recurring)

Monthly Premium Archive
(Digital Only)

  • Unlimited Articles
  • Access to Archived Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach

$12.95 every 1 month (recurring)

Annual Premium Archive
(Digital Only)

  • Unlimited Articles
  • Access to Archived Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach

$128 every 1 year (recurring)

Annual Subscription
(Digital + Print)

  • Access to Current Articles
  • Access to Current Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach
  • 12 Monthly Print Issues

$109.00 USA every year (recurring)
$157.00 Canada every year (recurring)
$207.00 Foreign every year (recurring)

Annual Premium Archive
(Digital + Print)

  • Unlimited Articles
  • Access to Archived Issues
  • eTrack Results Newsletter
  • Unlimited Content from our Technique Journal, Track Coach
  • 12 Monthly Print Issues

$158.00 USA every year (recurring)
$206.00 Canada every year (recurring)
$256.00 Foreign every year (recurring)

Annual Subscription
(Print Only)

  • 12 Monthly Print Issues
  • Does not include online access or eTrack Results Newsletter

$79.00 USA every year (recurring)
$127.00 Canada every year (recurring)
$177.00 Foreign every year (recurring)

Track Coach
(Digital Only)

  • Track Coach Quarterly Technique Journal
  • Access to Track Coach Archived Issues

Note: Track Coach is included with all Track & Field News digital subscriptions. If you are a current T&FN subscriber, purchase of a Track Coach subscription will terminate your existing T&FN subscription and change your access level to Track Coach content only. Track & Field News print only subscribers will need to upgrade to a T&FN subscription level that includes digital access to read Track Coach issues and articles online.

$19.95 every 1 year (recurring)