STATUS QUO — September

THE LATEST in the aches, pains & eligibility departments:

Rai Benjamin followed up his 400H silver medal with an announcement that a hamstring problem had put an end to his season. (KEVIN MORRIS)

Some athletes were unable to make it to the World Championships because of visa denials or delays by U.S. officials. Among the notables: ’17 HJ bronze medalist Majed El Dein Ghazal (Syria), British 2:10 marathoner Chris Thompson, Tokyo discus finalist Chad Wright (Jamaica).

Cal sprinter Ezinne Abba, set to compete for Nigeria, was 40 minutes away from her flight to the WC when her federation told her not to come. She explained that in fulfilling WA testing rules regarding passing 3 tests she had already passed 2, “but for some reason, I am not allowed to do my third test because of ‘fear of failure.’”

Sweden’s Kim Amb, javelin finalist in Tokyo, had to miss Eugene with a shoulder injury.

Briton Dina Asher-Smith strained a hamstring in the Eugene 4×1. That led to her withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games.

Botswana’s 800 star Nijel Amos has been provisionally suspended after an out-of-competition positive test for GW1516, a drug that affects how the body metabolizes fat.

Yiselena Ballar, World Junior bronze in the javelin last year, bailed on Team Cuba as soon as she got off the plane at her Miami layover with the team en route to Eugene, with a report saying she “disappeared from the sight of her coaches within the first minutes.”

It was a short silver medal season for Rai Benjamin. At his WC post-race press conference, he revealed that his hamstring troubles could not be ignored anymore, and he would be getting surgery. “I can’t compete for the rest of the season like this because I haven’t been able to train.”

When her pole snapped on her final warmup jump at the WC Holly Bradshaw landed badly, hurting her neck, arm, back and hamstring. “‘I was absolutely gutted, I was heartbroken, I was crying in the box, sobbing.” She later confirmed a “significant” injury to her hamstring and withdrew from the Commonwealth.

After failing to qualify for the Worlds semis, Donavan Brazier revealed that he would be getting surgery to correct Haglund’s Deformity in his heel. “I did the best I could with what I’ve got, I’d like to believe.” Note that it is the opposite foot from his recent bursitis troubles.

The yearly world 800 leader at 1:43.52, Briton Max Burgin withdrew from the WC and Commonwealth because of a calf strain that was ultimately diagnosed as deep vein thrombosis.

Vaulting the hard way. Britain’s Molly Caudery had a rough start to her year, explaining, “I actually chopped my finger 90% of the way off at Christmas. I had three surgeries and three months out.”

Beatrice Chepkoech couldn’t use her steeple Wild Card in Eugene because of injury. “My doctor asked me not to run because it would worsen the injury especially when scaling the barriers,” the WR holder explained.

After his 10K gold at Worlds, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei sent his federation a notarized letter to say he would be unable to compete at the Commonwealth: “I have endured some illness which has set back my training program and would not love to aggravate it.”

Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono got bounced the day before the WC marathon when the AIU provisionally suspended the Olympic 4th-placer for a May out-of-competition test that was positive for trimetazidine, which enhances the body’s use of oxygen.

Oly javelin champ Neeraj Chopra pulled out of the Commonwealth Games with a minor groin injury after his silver in Eugene.

Undefeated in the 400 since the ’17 Worlds, Steven Gardiner announced he would miss the WC, saying the week before the meet began, “Instead of putting on my spikes I’ve been advised to put on a walking boot due to a tendon inflammation.”

Quanera Hayes says she found out 2 days before the USATF meet that she was pregnant, so she decided to shut her season down after that.

400 bronze medalist Matthew Hudson-Smith was more than frank at Worlds about his struggles: “I had huge mental health issues in 2021. Not a lot of people know this, but I literally attempted suicide.”

Filip Ingebrigtsen withdrew from Worlds with an ongoing Achilles problem.

Marcel Jacobs withdrew from the 100 after round 1, claiming he was risking injury: “In order not to compromise the rest of the season by risking a more serious injury, I have to postpone the challenge.” A team doctor diagnosed it as “contracture of the adductor of the right thigh.”

Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir missed the WC marathon due to a right hip injury.

Fred Kerley injured a quad in the 200 heats and was not able to run the 4×1.

Eilish McColgan attributed her disappointing 10th in the 10,000 to a hamstring niggle she picked up in the days before the race.

Dalilah Muhammad kept her pre-Worlds schedule light because of a hamstring concern: “My injury wasn’t super severe, but it just didn’t make sense to kind of risk going out there and kind of reinjuring it and retweaking it.”

Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo, a 12:59.39 performer, withdrew from Eugene with a bad hamstring.

British 400 hurdler Lina Nielsen, after being disappointed by her showing at Worlds, where she failed to get out of her heat, has revealed that she has multiple sclerosis. The condition was first diagnosed 8 years ago, but she had kept it private till now. She says of the Eugene flareup: “By the time of the race, the numbness had progressed to my left arm and most of my left leg, so 90% of my left side was numb.”

Francine Niyonsaba pulled out of the WC, explaining, “About one month ago, I had a beginning of a stress fracture. Me and my team did everything possible to recover. I am almost OK now but I couldn’t train for all this period, so I’m not in the shape that can allow me to perform the way I wanted.”

Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodríguez withdrew from the heptathlon due to a knee injury.

Cuba’s Yaimé Pérez, the ’19 World champion in the discus — and Olympic bronze medalist — defected after placing 7th at the Worlds. Pérez, 31, is a 6-time World Ranker.

The AIU has provisionally suspended NCAA 400 champ Randolph Ross on tampering charges; the incident took place during an investigation of a whereabouts violation.

Decathlete Garrett Scantling has been provisionally suspended for three whereabouts violations in addition to a tampering charge related to his conduct during the investigation of the third whereabouts failure.

Australian high jumper Brandon Starc withdrew from Worlds, not being totally recovered from a foot injury.

Cooper Teare went to the hospital a few days before the Worlds opened, but a few stitches on a finger he cut while slicing avocados did not keep him from running.

Yasser Triki, 5th in the Olympic triple jump for Algeria, missed the WC with injury.

Olympic javelin bronze medalist Vítězslav Veselý withdrew from Worlds after picking up bronchitis at the Czech training camp.

Decathlete Damian Warner pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 400 in Eugene. Said the favored Canadian, “I felt like I was capable of doing something. It’s always tough when something like this happens and you can’t go out there and show what you’re capable of.”

Turner Washington, four times an NCAA champ for Arizona State, announced after the NCAA finals that he had retired from the sport.

Kendall Williams was hampered in the Eugene heptathlon by plantar fasciitis.

Colombia’s Anthony Zambrano, the Tokyo 400 silver medalist, has been sidelined by an adductor injury all season.


The COVID Ward…

Still feeling run-down from COVID, Andre De Grasse pulled out of the Eugene 200 after his failure to advance beyond the 100 semis, saving himself to help Canada win gold in the 4×1. Afterwards, he admitted, “It’s been a struggle. I don’t feel like I have like 100% of my energy back. I think right now I just want to rest and recover until I start feeling like myself again, and then I can kind of make that decision. [The foot injury] has been lingering the whole season, so I want to try to get it back to 100%.”

A bout with COVID led to U.S. distance runner Vanessa Fraser canceling the rest of her track season. “This season didn’t end up how I wanted — my body already seemed to be needing a break.”

Aleia Hobbs revealed that she had COVID a week before her 6th-place finish in the WC 100.

Following her 7th in the WC 1500 Aussie Jessica Hull tested positive, so withdrew from the 5000.

Drew Hunter reportedly nearly gave up on his season in June because of fatigue from long COVID.

Norwegian 800 runner Hedda Hynne was infected at her team’s training camp in Berkeley, but still competed in Eugene.

Japan’s marathoners were hit hard by COVID they caught in Eugene. Among those sidelined from competing were Mao Ichiyama (2:20:29 PR) and Hitomi Niiyama (2:21:17).

Japan’s Narumi Kobayashi, a 31:22.34 performer, was on her way to Eugene when she tested positive at the airport despite being asymptomatic. She did not fly.

Finnish hurdler Annimari Korte had a difficult time recovering from COVID in May and was forced to cancel the rest of her season.

British high jumper Morgan Lake withdrew from Worlds after catching COVID at the team training camp.

After her failure to get out of the 1500 heats, Elle St. Pierre made no excuses. Coach Mark Coogan said, “She’s just not been right since COVID. We knew it was going to be tough.”

UCLA hammer thrower Jillian Stafford was left off the World Junior team after failing to get an exemption for her refusal to get a COVID shot.

Another who contracted COVID apparently at Worlds was high jump 4th-placer Gianmarco Tamberi. “The day after I landed I tested positive for COVID and this time it knocked me out! Now I have been negative for a few days and I have started training, but I am having a huge effort. Between so much fatigue, heaviness in the head and continuous muscle aches, at this moment I am afraid of the idea of ​​having to face competition in less than a week. I cross my fingers and hold on, as always… 14 days to the Europeans, maybe there is still time!”


Turning Pro Early…

Champion Allison turned pro and will skip his final year of eligibility at Florida, signing with Puma.

USATF 100 champ Melissa Jefferson signed with Nike. She had two years left at Coastal Carolina.

Oregon sprinter Kemba Nelson has sacrificed her final two seasons of eligibility to go pro. The Jamaican speedster signed with Puma.

Abdihamid Nur will no longer compete for Northern Arizona, having signed with Nike.

Sprinter Abby Steiner signed with Puma before the Worlds, bypassing her final year of eligibility at Kentucky.

Charokee Young turned pro, signing with Puma. The Jamaican had two years of eligibility left at Texas A&M.


Doping suspensions…
3 years — Joel Maina (Kenya, distance);
2 years — Irina Tarasova (Russia, SP);
18 months — Susan Jeptoo (France, marathon). □

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