Friday, 30 June 2017 00:11

Mt. SAC? The FBI? The IRS? What is going on in Track Town USA?

BY KEN GOE | The Oregonian/OregonLive

A sleepy summer day turned crazy in my little corner of the world yesterday with back-to-back bombshells.

-- USA Track & Field yanked the U.S. Olympic Trials from Eugene, where they had been successfully staged in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and awarded them to Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California for 2020.

-- The BBC reported the FBI and IRS are investigating the successful bid by TrackTown USA and USATF that landed the 2021 World Outdoor Championships for Eugene.

I'll deal with them in reverse order.

I don't think my editors would let me publish such an incendiary story without some sort of attribution.

That doesn't mean it isn't true, but my sources within TrackTown USA genuinely seemed surprised.

There has been a French investigation into this since 2015 that hasn't seemed to have gone anywhere.

The BBC story itself was little more than a timeline overhung with the insinuation that if Nike and Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), were involved, it must be corrupt.

That is like adding two and two together and coming up with 22.

Nobody yet has adequately explained to me what siting the world championships in Eugene would do for Nike to make it worth bribing people to get it done.

The world championships are an advertising vehicle for the sports apparel and equipment giant no matter where they are held.

-- I largely agree with USATF board member Lauren Fleshman, who said Eugene can't host everything if track and field is to be a successful spectator sport within the U.S.

While Eugene did well with the last three Olympic Trials, I suspect there are those in the city secretly relieved to see it going elsewhere in 2020. It was time to give somebody else a shot. If so, why not Los Angeles?

Walnut is an L.A. suburb, providing USATF many things Eugene does not: major metropolitan area, major media market, easy accessibility from almost everywhere.

Writing for 3 Wire Sports, Alan Abrahamson does a good job of laying out the upside of taking the trials to Mt. SAC.

The Orange Country Register's Scott M. Reid has a more nuanced take. He notes the Adidas Track Classic died a lonely death in greater Los Angeles after moving from Portland.

There are a lot more people in L.A. than Eugene. But there also is a lot more going on.

The Olympic Trials are a major event in Eugene. Will they even be noticed in Southern California?

We'll see.

The R-G's Austin Meek does a nice job of analyzing Wednesday's two major developments, and of suggesting what they might mean.

In Citius Mag, Paul Snyder writes yesterday was a bad day for Eugene. But at the end of the day, Eugene still is Track Town.

I think he's right: