LAST LAP — May

Here’s this month’s collection of generally off-track activities that have gone a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed:

Because of a Nesta Carter (second from left) transgression, Michael Frater, Usain Bolt & Asafa Powell (r) will lose their Beijing Olympic relay golds. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

Carter Loses Appeal; Bolt Loses Relay Gold

Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter wasn’t the only loser in the May 31 CAS decision that smacked down his appeal of his doping positive from the ’08 Olympics.

The ruling confirms the IOC ruling that the Jamaican 4 x 100 team, which finished first, will lose its gold medal. That means that Carter’s teammate, Usain Bolt, goes from 9 Olympic gold medals to 8.

Carter had claimed negligence in his case, which arose in early ’17 after he tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine in the IOC’s retest of stored samples from the Beijing Games.

The CAS appeals decision said, in part, “The panel concluded that the reanalysis of Nesta Carter’s sample collected following the race at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games confirmed the presence of methylhexaneamine (MHA) and that it could not accept any of the arguments raised by Nesta Carter contending that the test results should be ignored or the IOC DP (International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Panel) decision should otherwise be overturned for certain alleged failures.”

Bolt, who had been celebrated for winning the “triple-triple” of the 100, 200 and 4×1 in the Games of ’08, ’12 & ’16, had commented last year on the prospect of losing the medal, “It’s just one of those things. Things happen in life, so when it’s confirmed or whatever, if I need to give back my gold medal, I’d have to give it back—it’s not a problem for me.”


The No. 1 Question At Pre: Where Will The ’19 Edition Be?

As thrilled as everybody might have been with what a great meet this year’s Prefontaine Classic was, there was no end of buzz about where—or even if—next year’s meet will be held, given that Hayward Field will not be available during its massive teardown/rebuild.

Longtime meet director Tom Jordan tells T&FN, “Yes, Virginia, there will be a Prefontaine Classic next year while Hayward Field is under construction. Our hope is to keep it within the State of Oregon. Stay tuned.”

The winner of the rumor sweepstakes in Eugene was that the meet will move just a few miles down the road to Lane CC. That’s a venue that would be exceedingly challenged in the available-seats department. Wags in the crowd suggested that Hayward Field’s beloved East Grandstand should just be picked up and moved in toto.

One thing that’s “for sure” is that the meet will be held June 28–29. Yes, that’s late in the year in comparison with recent stagings of the meet, but the weather-mandated late-September dates of the World Championships in Doha have had a ripple effect all up and down the calendar, with the USATF Championships moving to July 25–28.

USATF hasn’t as yet announced a site for that meet, but since a federation TV schedule lists it for Des Moines and that the Iowa city’s chamber of commerce has it on its calendar, we’d say Drake will be the place to be.


Holloway Signs Long Extension With Florida

In a year when multiple big-name collegiate coaches have been the subject of switching-schools rumors, one we know who will be staying put is the head man at the NCAA men’s favorite Florida, Mike Holloway (for more Holloway, see here). The 58-year-old Ohio native has signed a 10-year extension that will keep him in Gainesville through the end of June, 2028.

In announcing the deal, Florida AD Scott Stricklin said, “Mouse is unique because he’s from here and kind of came up from the ranks, if you will. He has a remarkable story. Part of it is his commitment to this place as much as the school’s commitment to him. This is where he wants to be and when a guy like Mouse Holloway says he wants to finish his career here, you don’t have to be a very smart athletic director to go, ‘Well, let’s figure out a way to make that happen.’ ”

Said Holloway, “This time of year, with jobs opening, there’s always people calling with interest. It’s nice to be courted; it’s nice to be wanted I guess, but at the end of the day, the trigger for me was when Scott said to me, ‘I want to make you my track & field coach. I want you to be here as long as I’m here and as long as you want to be here.’ That was big for me.

“I think anybody who knows me knows that I love this place. I’m just so thankful to everybody around me that’s worked so hard along with me to get us where we are. When we took over, Florida was the sleeping giant. Well, the giant is alive and awake and my job is to keep it awake and not let it fall asleep again.”



How Team Americas Will Be Selected For The Continental Cup

The third edition of the IAAF’s Continental Cup (a successor to the World Cup, which had 10 iterations between ’77 and ’06) will be staged in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on September 08–09.

The 4 teams will be representing Africa, Europe, Asia/Pacific and The Americas.

Of interest to U.S. fans is how Team Americas will be selected. There will be no tryout meet. Rather, the team will be chosen from standings on yearly lists as of August 03 (with having competed in one’s national championships being an elemental consideration, although some exceptions will be recognized).

Each event will have 2 members, but they must be from different nations. There is no by-nation restriction for the relay events. Note that the 4×4 will be mixed-sex (2 men, 2 women), with no restriction on running order.


So Who Is Hosting The ’20 Olympic Trials?

When we left you last issue, on May 1 USATF had canceled its agreement with Mt. SAC for the SoCal school to be the selection meet for the Tokyo squad. The bidding was reopened with a May 25 deadline, with a decision on the new site to be announced around June 8.

Previous hosts Eugene and Sacramento—who lost to Mt. SAC in the original ’20 bidding—both immediately expressed an interest in entering the fray once again. “So to get another swing at it, that doesn’t happen a whole lot,” said Sacramento Sports Commission Director Mike Sophia.

Shortly before the deadline, Mt. SAC spokeswoman Jill Dolan confirmed to Ken Stone of the San Diego Times that the school was not reentering the race, adding later via e-mail: “Why would we consider bidding for them again when they just took it away from us?”

While it is unclear just who filed a bid, USATF’s Chief Marketing Officer Jill Geer told Stone, “We will announce bidders at the appropriate time.”


The Latest In The Diack Saga

A private meeting between current IAAF president Sebastian Coe and disgraced former president Lamine Diack was set to take place in late May in front of a French judge, but the 84-year-old Diack—who had requested the meeting in the first place—canceled the meeting for “medical reasons.”

The cancelation came 2 weeks after testimony in a Brazilian plea-bargain agreement indicated that a Brazilian businessman bribed Diack, recognized as an international power broker, with more than $2 million to secure 4 votes in Brazil’s bid for the ’16 Games.

There has been no public indication what the topic for the Coe/Diack meeting was going to be. Under French law anyone under investigation can request a meeting with individuals relevant to their case. There is speculation that the cancelation may speed up the judge’s final ruling on Diack, who since November of ’15 has been the subject of a corruption investigation relative to taking payments relative to covering up Russian doping.


IAAF Testo Rule Remains Controversial

The coming rule change on testosterone levels for women in certain events is producing no shortage of controversy. The new IAAF stricture, set to go into force on November 1, will require athletes with hyperandrogenism—the condition which causes some women to produce high levels of male sex hormones—to medically reduce their testosterone levels in order to compete. This assumes that CAS, which struck down an earlier IAAF restriction in this area, doesn’t intervene again at somebody’s behest.

A world-leading 1:55.92 at Pre continued what could be the last 800 season for Caster Semenya as we know her. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

The international federation, saying its research points to a bigger advantage in certain events, is applying the rule from the 400 through the mile, but not in other events.

One critic, former Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño, who herself failed an old version of gender testing before winning a medical appeal, said she supports the new rule but feels it should apply to all events. “I do not understand why the IAAF does not apply the rule to events where testosterone has the biggest influence, sprint distances,” she says. “Maybe this is because top sprint runners are from the United States, and they fear their lawsuits.”

IAAF head Seb Coe again defended the rule prior to the Doha DL: “The regulations are very clear and they are really the culmination of 15 years of work here, scientifically reviewed.”

Meanwhile, the South African Olympic committee is preparing a legal challenge to the controversial regulation. Athletics South Africa is also opposed to it, calling the rule “skewed.”

Marathon great Paula Radcliffe, a member of the IAAF Athletes Commission and hardcore drug warrior, opined that it is unfair for Caster Semenya to be the “poster girl” in the controversy, explaining, “She’s just the person winning by the furthest, so people are pointing fingers at her. Girls on the start line know they’re never going to get a medal in an 800. That’s the bottom line.”


The Hayward Field Drama Drags On

A local effort to save Hayward Field’s legendary East Grandstand has fallen short, as the Eugene City Council decided not to name it a historic landmark. The 93-year-old grandstand is set to be demolished as part of the construction of the new stadium that will host the ’21 World Championships.

The vote, 5–1, wasn’t close, and the demolition permit for the stadium has already been filed. Trees along the street on one side of the stadium have been tagged for removal.

Said Bob Penny, who led a grass-roots drive to save the iconic wooden structure, “They are basically being steamrolled by the university, but the university holds the cards.”

University officials have said the grandstand is not up to code with regard to access for people with disabilities, nor could it withstand a major earthquake.

Fifty donors, led by Phil Knight, are bankrolling the new stadium, for which a cost has not been announced.

Originally, the East Grandstand was supposed to be part of the general rebuild of the facility, but as noted in this space in the January edition, that plan was scrapped in favor of a ground-up reconstruction. That decision has led to much public angst in the months since.

While many of the details about the new construction plans have not been released, ’73 Boston Marathon winner Jon Anderson, a Eugene native, wrote in the Eugene Register-Guard, “If Eugene is to remain TrackTown USA, Hayward must be fully rebuilt.”


WADA & Russia Still At Loggerheads

Russia won’t be coming in from the cold anytime soon, according to WADA. At the organization’s May meeting, director general Olivier Niggli confirmed that RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, continues to be non-compliant, a finding that was first declared in November ’15.

The case remains clear-cut, says Niggli, explaining, “There was no need for a vote and there was no proposal.”

The two remaining conditions that the Russians have not relented on are their providing access to the Moscow laboratory and their acceptance of the McLaren Report that confirmed Russian state-sponsored doping at the ’14 Winter Olympics.

A week after the WADA meetings, the Russian Sports Ministry sent WADA a letter that reaffirmed its rejection of the McLaren Report. “It contains unsubstantiated conclusions,” said sports minister Pavel Kolobkov.

The head of RUSADA, Yuriy Ganus, has called for access to the lab to be granted. However, it has been sealed off by the Investigative Committee of Russia, which claims it is conducting its own investigation. That committee answers only to the Kremlin.

The IAAF, meanwhile, has threatened to extend its ban on Russian athletes after it was revealed that banned walk coach Viktor Chegin is still working with some of the country’s top athletes. □

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