Thursday, 10 August 2017 18:23

BBC Dismisses IAAF's "Bullying" Charge

The exchange followed Isaac Makwala's controversial disqualification from the men's 400m final

The BBC has defended sports presenter Gabby Logan over claims of "bullying" after a heated interview with IAAF medical officer Dr Pam Venning, following Isaac Makwala's controversial disqualification from the men's 400m final at the World Athletics Championships.

Makwala was banned from competing after complaining of a stomach bug amid an outbreak of the highly infectious norovirus which has affected dozens of athletes at the event in London.

The runner and the Botswanan federation subsequently hit out at the IAAF, claiming he had not been properly assessed and felt well enough to run and accused the governing body of unfair treatment.

When presented with these claims by Logan, Dr Venning said: "I have to trust my doctors. My role is to ensure the healthcare of all the athletes here and it's a very infectious and very virulent disease."

Viewers of the BBC’s athletics coverage felt Logan’s line of questioning overstepped the mark, however, with people accusing the presenter of “bullying”, “hectoring” and being “disrespectful” to her interviewee.

But the corporation defended Logan in a subsequent statement, explaining that there were “important questions” to be answered.

“There were important questions for the IAAF to answer about the case of Isaac Makwala not being able to run in the men's 400m final,” the statement said.

“We understand that some viewers were unhappy about the way in which Dr Pam Venning, head of medical services at the IAAF, was questioned by our presentation team — but the tone of the questioning was respectful with Dr Venning able to present the IAAF's position clearly.”

For its part, the IAAF claimed it was under a public safety obligation to contain the outbreak of the virus and their medical officers believed Makwala had been vomiting for a period of 18 hours.

"The team doctor, team leader and team physio had been informed following the medical examination that the athlete should be quarantined for 48 hours and would therefore be missing the 400m final on Tuesday," the IAAF said in a statement.

Dr Venning added that "all the other teams" with affected athletes had followed the IAAF’s instructions.

But several athletes and pundits, including former world champion Michael Johnson, accused the governing body of poor communication and inconsistencies.

Makwala eventually won a reprieve – following the expiration of his quarantine period – and was allowed to run an individual time-trial for the 200m heats.

He will face South African rival Wayde van Niekerk in the 200m final on Thursday night although he admits he is still running “with a broken heart” after missing Monday’s 400m showdown.


Phyllis Francis: A Perfect Night For A Duck

The Oregon Duck began her reign in the rain.

Phyllis Francis is the new World 400m champion.

In a stirring display of tenacity and confidence, Francis powered past favorites Allyson Felix (US) and Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Jam) in the final 40 meters to claim her first individual World title.

Francis ran a personal best 49.92.

While that is the slowest winning time in World Championship history, the cool, wet weather kept times slow, distances short, and competition fierce on a night marked by persistent and heavy rainfall.

Francis is Oregon’s first major meet sprint champion since Otis Davis, who won the Olympic 400m in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Francis was unsure of her position at the finish.

"Me?" she asked when told she had won.

Her mental approach worked to perfection.

Francis "put doubt on the back burner," she said, and the secret to her success is "patience and believing in yourself." She had both patience and belief in bundles Wednesday night.

Doubt was nowhere to be found.

Before the race she told herself, "You deserve to be there. We're all finalists and whatever happens, happens."

The two runners she swept past are individual Olympic champions, Felix at 200m and Miller-Uibo - she of the famous Rio finish line dive - at 400m.

"They are such phenomenal competitors - I was just telling myself to stay up with them."

Francis' win is the culmination of a well-planned progression through the major championship ranks. She placed 7th in the 400m at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and 5th at the Rio Olympic Games.

An accomplished relayist, the 25 year old Francis owns 4x400m relay gold from both the 2015 World Relays and the 2016 Olympics.

"It means a lot to me... this is a huge step that is blossoming into something great in the future for my career."

Francis said of her last 40m, "I've got to go back and look at it. I was telling myself to be patient and go with the flow. I told myself 'don't panic, don't freak out, don't get too excited. Put your arms down, put your legs down, and keep going.' "

On winning the World title with a personal best time, Francis said, "It's a good feeling - I'm ecstatic. It's so surreal right now."

Francis has a fan in none other than Allyson Felix. When asked what advice she would give Francis about her career path, Felix said, “I think she’s already doing fabulous.”

Fabulous indeed.

On a perfect night for a duck, this Duck ran a perfect race.


Evan Jager takes bronze, earns United States' first ever steeplechase medal at world championships

Evan Jager led for much of the second half of the race during the 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the world championships in London.

But the American who trains with Portland's Bowerman Track Club ultimately had to settle for the bronze. Jager simply didn't have enough kick late to hold off Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto and Morocco's Soufiane Elbakkali.

Still, it represents the United States' first-ever world championships medal in the steeplechase. Jager, who took silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finished in 8:15.53. Kipruto won in 8:14.12, followed by Elbakkali in 8:14.49.

American Stanley Kipkoech Kebenei gave the U.S. two top five finishes, crossing fifth in 8:21.09.

MEN'S POLE VAULT FINAL

Sam Kendricks of the United States was clean through the first five jumps in the pole vault and later was the only one to scale 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches to win gold.

Piotr Lisek of Poland took silver with a jump of 19-3 3/4, edging world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France on a countback.

Defending world champion Shawn Barber of Canada finished eighth.

MEN'S 400 FINAL

Wayde van Niekerk successfully defended his world title in the 400 meters, adding to his Olympic gold and world record.

The South African, running in Lane 6, paced his race perfectly and even eased up at the end to cross in 43.98 seconds.

Silver medalist Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas was .43 seconds behind and Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar finished in 44.48 for bronze.

Medal favorite Isaac Makwala of Botswana was kept out of the race because of a stomach virus even though he insisted he had fully recovered. The IAAF said he should be quarantined until Wednesday to safeguard the health of other athletes at the championships. Lane 7 was left empty.

MEN'S 800 FINAL

Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France earned the upset of the evening when he took the lead with 200 meters to go in the men's 800-meter final and hung on for gold.

Behind him, Adam Kszczot of Poland took silver, edging Kipyegon Bett of Kenya.

Bosse, who was fourth at the Olympics last year, won in 1 minute, 44.67 seconds, .28 seconds ahead of Kszczot.

WOMEN'S JAVELIN FINAL

Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic won the gold medal in the javelin a decade after her last world title.

The 36-year-old two-time Olympic champion won gold at the 2012 London Games and then took a break from competition to become a mother. Now she is back with another gold after a winning throw of 219 feet.

Li Lingwei took silver with a toss of 217-4, while Chinese teammate Lyu Huihui got bronze with a throw of 214-1.

Olympic champion Sara Kolak of Croatia was fourth at 213-1.

-- From staff and wire reports


Bowie & Gatlin Disrupt Jamaica's Sprint Dominance

One event doesn’t define the future of sprinting in track and field. But perhaps the 2017 IAAF World Championships do foreshadow what is to come over the next several years. After a decade of demonstrable superiority, particularly on the men’s side, Jamaica’s dominance has been disrupted at one of track and field’s most consequential gatherings.

This past Saturday, Brooklyn-born Justin Gatlin, at 35 years old, defeated the once indomitable Usain Bolt in the 100-meter finals with a winning time of 9.92. It was Gatlin’s first 100-meter world championship title since 2005 and Bolt’s first loss in a 100 final in more than four years, when he was defeated by Gatlin in June 2013 in a race in Rome, Italy.

Sunday, the United States’ Tori Bowie, who settled into the blocks for the women’s 100-meter final as a stated underdog to Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the event and justifiably anointed new queen of women’s sprinting, stunned the nearly 60, 000 spectators at London Stadium in England when she surged in the last 20 meters and furiously leaned at the finish line to capture first place in 10.85

“I had no idea,” Bowie said after the thrilling ending, uncertain she had won until a photo finish confirmation. “All I knew was I wanted to give it everything I’ve got. Am I really world champion?”

The 26-year-old from Sand Hill, Miss., the silver medal winner in the 100 at the Rio Olympics last August, coming in second to Thompson, ended an impressive stretch for the 25-year-old from Manchester, Jamaica. In Rio, Thompson became the first female sprinter to win both the 100- and 200-meters at the Olympics since Florence Griffith Joyner accomplished the feat in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Subsequently, Thompson has patently been the pre-eminent sprint figure on the women’s circuit, including running 10.71, the world’s fastest women’s 100 this year, at the Jamaican national championships in late June.

She was maintaining Jamaica’s firm eight-year hold on the 100 that began at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. There, the country celebrated taking the gold, silver and bronze, followed by Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s triumph at the London Games in 2012. But Sunday, Thompson failed to fire out of the blocks as Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast seized control of the race early.

Eighty meters in, Ta Lou appeared to be the woman who would engineer a surprise win, but Bowie’s breakneck lunge at the line, as she and Ta Lou crossed simultaneously—with Bowie tumbling onto the track—ultimately put her atop of the podium. Ta Lou, who briefly thought she was the victor, was clocked in 10.86. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, the 2015 world champion, was third in 10.96.

As for Thompson, she uncharacteristically labored from beginning to end and wound up fifth in a time of 10.98. It was slightly different for Bolt, a global star who is inarguably the greatest male sprinter of all time. The winner of every individual Olympic and world championships final in the 100 and 200 that he has started—Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100 at the 2011 world championships—he couldn’t walk down the United States’ 21-year-old Christian Coleman (second in 9.94), who burst out of the starting blocks, and was unable to hold off Gatlin’s frantic push over the last 30 meters of the battle.

It was a disappointing end for Bolt and his legions of fans, as last year he announced that London would be his retirement party. “It doesn’t change anything for me,” Bolt said. “I think I lost the race to a great competitor.”

Unlike Thompson, Bolt decided not to compete in the 200 at these world championships. But both he and Thompson are slated to run in the men’s and women’s 4x100 meter relays, respectively, Saturday. It could be two more Jamaican gold medal performances or further affirmation the sprint tide might finally be turning.


Welcome back: Makwala stops, drops and sprints at worlds

Turns out, Isaac Makwala is healthy. Really healthy, in fact.

So healthy, that after getting called back to the stadium for a surprise command performance at the world championships Wednesday, he ran two 200-metre sprints -- the first all alone on the track -- qualified for the final and even dropped to the ground and pumped out five pushups near the finish line.

Any more questions?

"I'm running with anger," Makwala said. "I have no point to prove because I know myself. I'm fit. I know I'm a great athlete. I believe in myself."

The Botswanan sprinter's plight became the cause celebre of the championships when he threw up before the start of the 200-metre preliminaries Monday, was determined to be among the handful of athletes afflicted with the stomach flu and was barred from the stadium for 48 hours to lower the risk of infecting other runners.

All along, Makwala insisted he was not sick. One of his managers, Sander Ogink, told The Associated Press it was simply a case of nerves.

"As you probably know, athletes throw up when they're nervous," Ogink said.

But the IAAF held firm, and Makwala was scratched from both his 200-metre heat and the 400-metre final, where he could've been the main challenger Tuesday to the eventual gold medalist, Wayde van Niekerk.

After further review, and another visit from the doctor, the IAAF determined that while it couldn't do anything about the 400 -- Makwala showed up to the stadium for it Tuesday but was turned away -- it could try to right one wrong. He was asked back for Wednesday's action.

He opened the proceedings on a dreary, rain-drenched night by lining up in Lane 7 with nobody else on the track. His goal was to beat the slowest non-automatic qualifying time from the day before -- 20.53 seconds -- and after he crossed in 20.20, he dropped and gave `em five, snapped off a salute to the crowd, then hustled off to get ready for the semifinals.

Back out in the rain two hours later for that race, Makwala finished second to earn his berth in Thursday's final.

His best race is the 400. His only chance now, though, will come in the 200.

"I'm still running with my heart broken," he said. "I was ready to run. I don't know who made the decision. Four-hundred meters is my reason for training."

For the past several months, America's top name in the women's game, Allyson Felix, could say the same. She dropped all the other distances with an eye on the 400 and a chance to right a wrong from last year's Olympics. There, she was neck-and-neck with Shaunae Miller at the finish, when Miller dove over the finish line and grabbed the gold out of Felix's grasp.

This year, the finish was strange in a different way.

Miller (now Miller-Uibo after she got married in February) was far in front as she made the final turn, but she pulled up lame with 30 metres left, and was practically dragging her left foot to the finish line. Felix was in second but struggling, and through the gap in Lane 6 burst another American, Phyllis Francis, whose personal best time of 49.92 seconds was good for gold.

Felix ended up with bronze to move into a tie with Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey with 14 overall world medals. Miller-Uibo limped home to fourth.

"At the finish line I was surprised. I thought I was second or third," Francis said, "but then they told me `You are first.' That is crazy."

Karsten Warholm was also taken aback.

The Norwegian hurdler crossed the line first, ahead of two-time champion Kerron Clement, in the 400-metre hurdle finals. Warholm's eyes went agape and he stuck his fingers in his mouth in a look of pure amazement when realized he had won. Later, he paraded around the track wearing a horned Viking helmet -- appropriate given the cold, slick conditions in the stadium where the Olympics were held five years ago.

"For me, this is just a good Norwegian summer, actually," Warholm said.

The evening's other gold went to Gong Lijiao of China in the women's shot put.

But gold medals were hardly the only cause for celebration on an evening full of surprises in track and field.

Makwala took his second chance and ran with it.

"I'm so happy," he said. "Let's not talk about what happened. Let's talk about what is now."


A year after Olympic gold, ex-Duck Matthew Centrowitz still the ‘same guy’

In late January, Matthew Centrowitz took the track at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston for his first big meet of the year. It was the same event where the middle-distance runner made his professional debut five years earlier, but quite a bit had changed since then.

The public address announcer introduced the eight other racers at the starting line. As Centrowitz waited patiently, the entire audience watched on the video scoreboard a replay of his historic win a few months before at the Rio Olympics. Finally, after a couple of minutes, he was introduced with great fanfare.

“That’s when I realized this year is gonna be a lot different than every other year,” Centrowitz explained recently.

Nearly 12 months after the Maryland native and former University of Oregon star became the first American to claim Olympic gold in the 1,500 meters in 108 years, Centrowitz is coming to appreciate all that an Olympic title entails: the benefits, the challenges, and everything in between.

He is competing in the IAAF world championships this week in London, carrying expectations several times bigger than what accompanied him into Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Stadium a year ago. That is where he surprised many by winning the 1,500, topping a talented field with a tactical, strategic race. His time of 3 minutes, 50 seconds was the slowest for a winner since the 1932 Summer Games.

In an instant, many things had changed, even if the disbelief was slow to wear off. Centrowitz did not return to the United States for a couple of weeks, and that was when everyone wanted to talk about his win. They wanted to celebrate him, take pictures, buy him drinks.

“Reality set in that I wasn’t dreaming,” he said.

He said he spent the fall season enjoying the win. His medal went with him everywhere, stashed in his carry-on bag. He probably did not spend as much time and energy training, which he said probably resulted in a below-standard indoor season.

“But hey, sometimes it only happens once,” he said, “so yeah, you kind of want to enjoy it.

“I think people around me, maybe it was easier for them to give me a pass on everything. If it seemed like I was having too much fun or wasn’t approaching the season like I normally would, I don’t think anybody had anything to say. … It was weird. My whole life, obviously, my coaches, my father, family, friends — everyone’s been big motivators and pushed me. This past fall was kind of the first time no one was really doing that. Like, you’ve reached the pinnacle of the sport, nothing much more to say.”

The calendar eventually turned over, the medal found its way into a secure safe in Centrowitz’s Oregon home, and the world championships crept closer.

As a new season unfolded, Centrowitz quickly realized he was no longer regarded as just another talented runner in the field. He had experienced international success in the past — including a bronze at worlds in 2011 and a silver in 2013 — but the Olympic title cast all new expectations. Other runners see a target, and fans expect to see something special.

“Anything other than a win can feel like a letdown,” he said, “especially after last year.”

The Olympic title is not a burden, he said, calling it a good pressure, something with which he is plenty familiar. Growing up the son of a two-time Olympian, he says he has felt some degree of external expectations his entire career, always trying to live up to his father’s credentials and accomplishments. The only difference now is, at 27 years old, he is trying to match his own feats.

“I worked my whole career to get to this point,” he said, “so I see it as an advantage and not a disadvantage. This is what I’d dreamed about for so long.”

Expectations, of course, can breed disappointment, and Centrowitz’s post-Olympic year has hardly been ideal. He suffered injuries to his right and left abductor muscles and then in late May pulled out of the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene due to illness.

“It’s been really tough,” he said. “I’ve just tried to take it in stride and try to be grateful that it wasn’t last year.”

He managed to enter the U.S. national championships in June but was far from 100 percent. He finished second in the 1,500 in 3 minutes, 43.41 seconds, just 0.12 seconds behind Robby Andrews.

Centrowitz says he is finally fully healthy and in the weeks since the nationals has been focusing on getting his fitness back. Fans will see just how fit and how healthy on Thursday, when he lines up in London for qualifying heats in the 1,500. The final is scheduled for Sunday.

Looming beyond this weekend’s big race: Centrowitz might soon learn the full value of an Olympic gold medal. He turned pro in 2012, signing with agent Ricky Simms, who also represents sprinting sensation Usain Bolt, and also inking a multiyear deal with Nike.

His shoe deal expires at the end of this year. In position to explore his options for the first time as a seasoned pro, ­Centrowitz said he is not entirely sure how his Olympic title will affect his next contract.

“I’ll probably start to think more about that after the world championships when I have more time on my hands,” he said. “I’d like to think it carries some weight but you never know.”

Already, he said, the gold medal has opened doors, landed him speaking engagements and put him in front of audiences that never existed before Rio. He turned down many things, he said, because he felt it would detract from his training, but a historic championship has proved to be a valuable conversation-starter.

“I’ve been building relationships and connecting with a lot of interesting, important people, super-nice people who’ve offered guidance in anything I might want to do past running,” he said.

And while his official biography has changed, it might take a bit longer to introduce him before races and he might catch a few more stares in bars or restaurants, one year later Centrowitz said the Olympic title has not exactly changed everything.

“I feel like I’m the same guy. I feel like it’s more my friends or people around me who will remind me about it,” he said. “Maybe it still hasn’t set in, but I still feel like the same guy as last year or year before.”


South African Team Demanding Attention

It was less than 10 years ago that a dejected South African Olympic team left Beijing with a solitary medal. Long jumper Khotso Mokoena had claimed just one silver and the nation was filled with self-doubt.

Roll on to 2017 and it’s a wildly different scenario. The attention of the athletics world has shifted to the bottom end of Africa, which suddenly seems to be producing some of the most exciting prospects in track and field. And Usain Bolt seems to have selected Wayde van Niekerk as his successor.

What many are now asking is: Where did this success come from?

By Tuesday night, South Africa were third on the World Championships medal table in London, behind Kenya and the United States, with several more podium chances still to come before Sunday.

In a country that has been plagued by blunders and administrative incompetence, it would be hard to believe that this rapid rise could be attributed to the federation that looks after the sport — Athletics South Africa.

For Jean Verster, the coach behind Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who has claimed 1 500m bronze in London and is a favourite for 800m gold, it has been more of a process than anything else.

“I think the reason we’re doing so well has been a process over the last decade. It’s some coaches and also some universities in general and some clubs that have really invested in coaching,” he said.

“I think it’s almost a case of success breeds success, in the sense some people started doing well and that motivated some other people to almost jump on the bandwagon.”

Success there has certainly been. At last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, South Africa picked up two golds and two silvers just in athletics. And so far in London, Wayde van Niekerk has gold in the 400m, Luvo Manyonga gold in the long jump — an event that had two South Africans on the podium, as Ruswahl Samaai took bronze — and Semenya took bronze in the 1 500m. Still to come, Van Niekerk will be gunning for 200m glory and, of course, Semenya for 800m gold.

For Seef le Roux, the technical leader of Team SA in London, belief plays a huge role in the success achieved so far.

“I think it’s got a lot to do with self-confidence and belief in yourself as an athlete and yourself as a coach. I think that’s the positive spin-off and the guys bouncing positive energy off each other. It started with Simon Magakwe running a sub-10 100m for the first time and then all of a sudden a lot of people started believing, if he can do it, so can we,” Le Roux said.

For sprinter Simbine, who finished fifth in the 100m final, that turning point wasn’t so much Magakwe’s sub-10 but Anaso Jobodwana’s bronze medal at the last World Championships in Beijing.

Simbine told London’s The Telegraph: “After that, it seemed everybody decided, if Anaso can do it, we also can do it. There was a shift in mind-set and self-belief.”

There is a definite positive vibe among the athletes, evidenced by their support for each other on and off the track, and this is spilling over to their results.

Verster maintains that international athletes coming to train in South Africa have also had an effect on the confidence of local athletes.

“There are a few other factors as well. I think one of them is also the fact that South African athletes, because they’re getting exposed to all these top athletes who flock to South Africa to train, and also in lots of cases run in local meetings, our athletes have slowly but surely started realising that those people also just have two legs and two arms.

“The coaches also learn from each other. We learn from international coaches. At the end of the day, I think it’s been a process rather than some instant success.”

That learning process is also something that happens on a regular basis at Pretoria’s High Performance Centre (HPC). As Le Roux pointed out: “I think we have got some good structures — not necessarily in terms of the federation but things like the HPC in Pretoria. They’re doing the right things. Grabbing the right guys at the right time, putting them through good systems and we’re seeing the results of that.

“That’s something we can still improve — we need the same sort of set-up in other parts of the country because the talent pool isn’t necessarily in one city,” he said, also pointing out the impressive level of coaching in the country.

For Manyonga’s coach, Neil Cornelius, the growth has come from a “local is lekker” approach. “One of the things that has changed is that we have stopped relying on outside factors to help with performance and started relying on the support staff-coaches, physios, athletics clubs, the athletes’ representatives, agents, psychologists, etcetera,” he said.

And, according to the young coach, there’s more to come from South African athletics, particularly after the country’s excellent showing in topping the medal table at the recent World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi. Granted, some of the larger nations didn’t make the trip to the Kenyan capital but it was an impressive result nevertheless.

“Talent identification has improved a lot as well,” Cornelius said. “There have been numerous projects to help identify talent in rural areas and pretty much all over South Africa. I have always said that we have some of most talented athletes in the world that just haven’t been discovered yet.

“Our crop of younger athletes coming up and giving amazing results are some of those that have been identified and put into an environment where there is a great support structure, professional coaches, doctors and physios,” he added.

That can surely only produce more positive results in the future.


Walsh takes on circuit despite injury

World champion shot-putter Tom Walsh will continue on the European circuit despite carrying an injury.

An existing groin injury flared up just before Walsh won his title in London earlier this week.

Afterwards he was hobbling around and said his future competition was in doubt.

He's since had an MRI scan which has revealed a small tear.

However his manager Scott Newman said the injury is something Walsh feels he can deal with over the next few weeks with some treatment.

The 25-year-old Timaru builder has two more competitions left before he'll return home to fully recover.

Walsh is scheduled to compete in the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in 10 days time and then the Diamond League Finals in Brussels in early September.

Walsh is currently second in the Diamond League standings behind American Ryan Crouser, but in a change of format this year, all the athletes that qualify for the final are eligible for the top prize with a win in Brussels.

Walsh won the Diamond League title last year and picked up 70 thousand dollars.

He banked 80 thousand dollars for his win in London on Monday.


Hyperandrogenism: Dangers In Hormone Therapy?

  • Debate rages on around the issue of Caster Semenya and hyperandrogenism
  • Calls have been made for Semenya to undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • A leading expert in the field insists the treatment would put the athlete at risk

Caster Semenya will return to the track on Thursday no doubt aware that she will be subjected to scrutiny that goes way beyond her ability as an outstanding 800m runner with two Olympic and two world titles.

The debate as to whether the 26-year-old South African woman should be allowed to compete in a world championship event will continue against the backdrop of Lord Coe and the IAAF, an organisation whose principal role should be to protect its athletes, trying to implement a rule that forces her to have hormone replacement therapy if she wants to keep running as someone with Hyperandrogenism.

But a Stanford University professor has not only exposed serious flaws in the scientific study being used by the governing body in the case they are submitting to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, she has raised concerns about the potential health risks to athletes like Semenya should they make her take medication.

Katrina Karkazis is a Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University, and testified in the Dutee Chand case that persuaded the Court of Arbitration for Sport to suspend the IAAF’s testosterone rule for two years in 2015. ‘Lowering testosterone can have serious lifelong health effects,’ she explained to Sportsmail. ‘If done via surgery, women are at high risk for osteoporosis.’

Karkazis is writing a book on Testosterone and in an article she co-wrote with Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, a chronic disease epidemiologist in Australia, she challenged the validity of a study the IAAF commissioned to submit as evidence to CAS.

‘The IAAF is heralding this study as major and important evidence. It isn’t,’ write Karkazis and Meyerowitz-Katz.

‘From the outset, CAS has been clear about what evidence it requires in order to uphold the regulation. The IAAF must show that female athletes with higher total T (testosterone) have a performance difference that approximates what male athletes typically have over female athletes; not that female athletes with higher T have any competitive advantage over their peers. In other words, it has to be a big performance difference, which CAS put in the 10-12 per cent range. What the study found is nothing near this.’

The study, which has been widely quoted in the media and on the BBC after Semenya had denied Britain’s Laura Muir a medal in the 1500m, claims higher testosterone levels can give an 800m runner a 1.8 per cent advantage.

And while it is an immensely complicated subject, Karkazis and Meyerowitz-Katz have also challenged the validity of those findings and insist the IAAF issued a press release with claims the study does not support.

‘The IAAF has had six years to assemble evidence for this regulation,’ they write. ‘Currently, they have presented one opinion piece and these two studies. Even some who have supported the regulation agree these studies are not persuasive or pivotal.’

In an article in The Guardian last year, Karkazis wrote: ‘Semenya’s athleticism was attributed to a single molecule – testosterone – as though it alone earned her the gold, undermining at once her skill, preparation and achievement.’

Karkazis also says it is completely wrong to compare naturally occurring testosterone to testosterone doping and pointed out the inaccuracy in referring to it as a male sex hormone.

She is not alone in being deeply troubled by the treatment of Semenya, not just by the IAAF and some sections of the mainstream media but by rival athletes. When she was 18 one athlete called her a man. Others have complained that it is unfair that they have to race against her, even publicly shunning her at the end of races.

Sara Gillingham is a former athlete, the sister of Olympic hurdler and now television commentator, Martin Gillingham, and a campaigner who was born with what she says were ‘atypical sex characteristics’. She is also working on a research study on the subject at Surrey University.

‘My gut reaction is that Caster Semenya is an inconvenient truth reminding everyone that not all people fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies,’ said Gillingham, who has sent a complaint to the BBC after listening to their world championship presenters quote what she too believes are the incorrect findings of the IAAF study.

‘She and women like her are particularly vulnerable to the powers that be, because they come from less powerful sporting nations in the IAAF stratosphere. The physical differences that challenge the “norms” may be because women have much higher than average testosterone levels as in Caster’s case (or so we assume), or it may be that are born with atypical sex characteristics. It is estimated 1.7 per cent of the population are born with non-normative sex characteristics.

‘What I find particularly galling is the readiness of the IAAF to mete out medical interventions using flawed scientific evidence, with the ill-informed cheer squads on the sidelines. The IAAF is in a rush to exclude Caster and women like her by using selective data in order to support their position. This is something that Katrina Karkazis has thankfully shined a light upon.

‘I myself was born with atypical sex characteristics, and like Caster I was subjected to medical treatment for which there was no medical need. I underwent “normalisation treatment” as many in the medical establishment hoped people like me would simply be eliminated and disappear from view. It is a classic case of the powerful exercising their authority over the weak, without a hint of justice or humanity.

‘I was never the athlete my brother was, in fact I was comparatively useless, but I loved my athletics as it gave me confidence at a time I was suffering a lot of mental and physical pain. Pain that could mostly have been avoided if only we all stuck to the facts, rather than be governed by fear and prejudice.’


"Why Life Bans For Doping Will Not Work"

On Sunday, Justin Gatlin was booed as he received his gold medal following his victory in the 100m final at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) London 2017 World Championships on Saturday. The reason? A common perception that the US athlete is a two-times drug cheat. As explained in this article, his first AAF was due to a prescription for Adderall to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The second – for testosterone – he alleged was due to sabotage due to a dispute with a physician.

Whatever your view of Gatlin, a key point is that he has served his ban. However these facts have been lost in the vitriol of moral righteousness. Former athletes, the Jamaican Prime Minister and even IAAF President Sebastian Coe lined up to tell the media that life bans for doping should now be reconsidered.

Public anger on the subject is understandable. Sport is an emotive subject, and Gatlin ruined what was supposed to be a victorious swansong for one of athletics’ greatest characters, Usain Bolt. Athlete anger is also understandable. It is no wonder that many call for life bans for doping cheats. Jessica Ennis-Hill recently recently received her 2011 IAAF World Championships Heptathlon gold medal in a special ceremony at London 2017, after athletes who finished ahead of her were disqualified for doping. Many other athletes in a similar situation, such as Jo Pavey or Kelly Sotherton, would take the same position.

However, sporting bodies already know that life bans do not work, and in fact place them in a dangerous position. Doping is not as black and white as the general public, or most athletes, think. There are a number of reasons why.

1. Proving intentional doping
Proving intentional doping is notoriously difficult. The natural reaction of any athlete when confronted with an adverse analytical finding (AAF) is to deny doping. The Gatlin case illustrates this perfectly. His first AAF was back in 2001 for amphetamine, and an arbitration panel found that this was due to Adderall prescribed to treat ADHD. He was initially banned for two years, but reinstated by the IAAF two months later.

In 2006, he tested positive for exogenous testosterone, but claimed that the AAF had been caused by sabotage due to a financial disagreement with his physical therapist, who had rubbed a new product on his legs. A four-year ban was imposed, double the standard two-year ban in place at the time.

Only Gatlin knows if he intentionally doped. He denies doing so. No panel has ever found that he intentionally doped.

This difficulty in proving intent was why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) abandoned the ‘aggravating circumstances’ provision within the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code that allowed the standard two-year ban to be scaled up to four years. The burden of proof in establishing ‘aggravating circumstances’ was so high that it was almost never used. Instead, the 2015 Code opted for a standard sanction of four years that could be reduced down if – for example – an athlete could prove that use of a substance was non-intentional.

In effect, the 2015 Code reversed the burden of proof from innocent until proven guilty. An athlete is now considered guilty unless they can prove that they are innocent. The same would presumably be true for any introduced life ban. This is dangerous to athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Code applies globally. For every Justin Gatlin, there are many athletes issued who do not benefit from the legal and financial resources he enjoys. Currently, athletes lower down the food chain in smaller countries are being sanctioned with a four-year bans with little prospect of reduction. For instance, in June, India’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) reportedly sanctioned 12 athletes with four year bans.

It is easy to take for granted how well-understood doping is in developed nations. Athletes often argue that athletes from less-developed countries benefit due to a lack of testing. The flip side of this is that issues such as supplement and food contamination are not as well understood, meaning that any athlete testing positive can be sanctioned with a four-year ban, irrespective of the circumstances of their case.

The IAAF and Sebastian Coe are aware of this. Although Coe may be feeling queasy about Gatlin’s victory, the IAAF knows the circumstances of his case. It also knows that introducing life bans could create potential issues for smaller NADOs that do not have the resources to examine the details of every case.

2. Inadvertent doping
This leads us into the second issue. Not every athlete that is sanctioned for doping intends to cheat. Whether you believe him or not, Gatlin would argue that he falls into this bracket. For the same reasons that it is difficult to prove intentional doping, it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number of athletes sanctioned for doping who did not intend to cheat.

However, that doesn’t stop NADOs from guessing. At Tacking Doping in Sport 2013, Athlete Ombudsman for the US Olympic Committee (USOC) John Ruger said that between 40% and 60% of US doping cases are inadvertent – i.e. non-intentional. Is it fair to issue them with a life ban?

There can be a number of reasons for inadvertent doping. The most common are contaminated supplements or food. As has been previously discussed on The Sports Integrity Initiative, many elite athletes take supplements. They also take medicines to recover from injury.

Elite athletes also travel. Not all supplements and medicines around the world are correctly labelled. The same goes for food, especially when an athlete is eating in a restaurant whilst travelling. Athletes are known to keep receipts to prove where they have eaten.

WADA has issued warnings regarding clenbuterol, which is still used in some countries to fatten cattle, despite being banned in the US since 1991 and by the European Union since 1996 – it has a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) set by the same body. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has also accepted a defence that an athlete’s contaminated water supply led to a doping positive.

In a very recent case, an athlete was able to compete at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships after an arbitration panel accepted his defence that an AAF for probenecid – a diuretic – was caused by kissing his girlfriend. Should he be banned for life?

3. Specified substances
For most of the substances on WADA’s Prohibited List (except ‘specified substances’), there is no excuse for the presence of a prohibited substance, however small. The public and the media would class cyclist Alberto Contador in the same ‘doping cheat’ bracket as Justin Gatlin, however the amount of clenbuterol found in his sample was 50pg/ml, 40 times less than the 2,000pg/ml that is generally felt to be needed to have an active effect on human physiology.

In other words, although science holds that the amount of clenbuterol in Contador’s system could not have affected his performance, he was sanctioned with a two-year ban and lost his 2010 Tour de France title. Would it be fair to ban Contador for life for this offence?

Two triathletes argued that recent AAFs for ostarine were either due to use of salt tablets to aid rehydration, or due to drinks given out by race organisers. Again, both cases involved trace amounts. One athlete received a six-month ban and the other a two-year ban, despite both proving that their use was unintentional.

Scientific advances mean that ever-smaller amounts of substances can be detected in an athlete’s sample. This means that this particular problem is likely to get worse, unless sensible thresholds are introduced.

It is also worth highlighting that the cases highlighted in the above two sections occurred in developed countries. Very few athletes from developing countries have been successful in proving inadvertent doping or contamination. A life ban would impact them rather than the Lance Armstrongs or Ben Johnsons.

4. The Prohibited List
The exact number of substances on WADA’s Prohibited List cannot be stated. This is because nobody knows, including WADA. The reason for this is the way in which the List is written. For example, most athletes realise that anabolic androgenic steroids are prohibited, and the List names 42 of them.

However, at the end of Section S1 of the List, is also mentions that ‘other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s)’ are also banned. The same is also true of Section S2, S5, and S6.

The logic behind this is easy to see. If WADA didn’t include these disclaimers, determined dopers would simply slightly change the chemical structure of the substance and claim that as it is not on the List, it is not prohibited. However, such disclaimers also create serious issues for athletes.

If not all prohibited substances feature on the List, an athlete purchasing a supplement cannot check its ingredients against the List. Methylhexaneamine is a stimulant featured on the Prohibited List. Should an athlete be expected to know that it has alternative names such as Forthane, Geranamine, 1,3-dimethylamylamine (1,3-DMAA) or dimethylamylamine (DMAA), which are not featured on the List? If they test positive and a supplement lists these ingredients but not methylhexaneamine, should we ban the athlete for life?

Late last year, UEFA and WADA were forced into an embarrassing climbdown after this issue came to a head. Analysis of footballer Mamadou Sakho’s A sample revealed the presence of higenamine, a substance speculated to have fat-burning qualities. UEFA duly notified Sakho of an anti-doping violation, stating that Higenamine was banned at all times under the WADA Prohibited List, as a category S3, Beta-2 Agonist.

However, higenamine doesn’t feature on the Prohibited List, and there is considerable speculation about whether it is a Beta-2 Agonist at all. As such, following great personal expense, Sakho was exonerated. Interestingly, higenamine is found in sweetsop, which Usain Bolt has listed as one of the secrets to his success.

5. Getting it wrong
There is also the major problem that sometimes, anti-doping authorities get it completely wrong. Sometimes they also get it largely wrong, and sometimes a little bit wrong. To take a very recent example, the CAS recently overturned four-year bans issued to four footballers, after they were sanctioned for testing positive for SARM S-22.

Laboratory errors, whilst very uncommon, also do happen. Earlier this year, rugby player Patrick Tuipulotu was exonerated after his B sample showed no presence of a prohibited substance. In February, New Zealand Rugby was forced into revealing Tuipulotu’s November 2016 AAF.

He was later exonerated, after legal assistance from Mike Morgan and Lisa Jones of Morgan Sports Law. In a case that has remarkable similarities, Morgan Sports Law also represented cricketer Kusal Perera, who had a provisional suspension lifted after the Qatar laboratory withdrew its AAF, accepting that the cause of the AAF may have been naturally generated.

In another case that appears to involve a false AAF, WADA suspended the Mexican laboratory last year after Mexican fencer Paola Pliego missed the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In both Pliego’s and Tuipulotu’s cases, the laboratory concerned has since been suspended by WADA.

In 2011, the CAS reduced a standard two-year ban issued to 12 year old cart racer Igor Walilko by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to 18 months. Walilko was sanctioned for consuming nikethamide, which was understood to have originated in an energy bar he consumed.

There was no question that Walilko was guilty. ‘It is each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body’, reads Article 2.1 of the Code. ‘Athletes are responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in their Samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing use on the athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.1’. Should sport be subjecting 12 year old children to a life ban from sport?

6. Meldonium
Meldonium, mildronate (brand), or мельдоний (Russian), could possibly fall under the previous section. Having justified its inclusion on the 2016 List due to evidence of widespread use in Eastern Europe, WADA then failed to sufficiently notify athletes in Eastern European countries that it had been included on the List.

There was also a lack of science on WADA’s part supporting its decision to include it on the List. Incorrect data on excretion times meant that many athletes who had stopped taking the drug before it became prohibited were sanctioned. There were questions about the accuracy of the research behind WADA’s decision to put meldonium on the List.

WADA has since removed the ‘search’ function from its Prohibited List section, but finding the brand name ‘mildronate’ was impossible even in English – a search for the brand name turned up no results. Only athletes searching for the active chemical ingredient in English, meldonium, would have been presented with a result by WADA’s own search system, which is not available in Russian.

Hundreds of Eastern European athletes tested positive for the drug after the 2016 List came into effect. The whole debacle is set out in this article and, coupled with an IOC requirement to ban Russian athletes convicted of an ADRV from the Rio 2016 Olympics, created absolute chaos. It is suffice to say that lifetime bans would not have made this situation any easier.

Conclusion
It is telling that Coe referred to Justin Gatlin as “Gatlin” in an interview on BBC Sportsweek, whilst referring to Usain Bolt as “Usain”. The public and athletes can be forgiven for getting caught up in the emotion of a historic event such as Usain Bolt’s last race. But sport’s governing bodies ought to know better.

They know that under the current system, life bans are unenforceable. Take some of the cases above. Imagine, for a moment, that a life ban is in place for a first doping offence.

WADA would be facing a costly legal battle against five wealthy footballers. It would also have banned a 12 year old boy for life. Excluded a fencer from the Olympics for life. Thrown an All-Black out of sport for life due to substance classification errors. WADA could also be facing legal action from many disgruntled Eastern European athletes excluded for meldonium AAFs, and the federations that were forced to ban them. WADA simply does not have the financial resources to fight such battles, especially when its regulatory system is built on shaky ground, as the above cases illustrate.

The sporting system currently relies on the Athlete Agreement, which faces athletes to take cases to the CAS, and prevents recourse to an ordinary court of law. The CAS is funded by the Olympic movement, which is in charge of appointing its arbitrators.

Sport relies on the fact that very few athletes will put aside their careers to contest a ban. Most will accept a two year ban and some will even accept a four year ban, if they are young enough to be able to be competitive on return to competition. If a life ban is implemented, this will change. Also, it will remove all incentive for athletes to cooperate with anti-doping authorities investigating who is behind supplying prohibited substances to athletes.

If John Ruger is correct in his analysis, and between 40%-60% of doping cases are inadvertent, can we really expect inadvertent dopers to accept a lifetime ban? The revenues of many sporting leagues now eclipse the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of many countries. The annual wage of the world’s richest football now eclipses WADA’s entire annual budget.

Most elite athletes would argue that the will to compete overrides such riches. Can we really expect athletes who have inadvertently doped, but cannot prove it, to have this all taken away by a court that is financed and staffed by sport? Especially when certain areas of the rules are so vague and imprecise?

As Kristen Worley’s case highlighted, sport fears such cases making it into the civil courts, where athletes could sue. Why would it make a move that is likely to usher such an era into place even faster than it is already happening?

Sport should not be courting the possibility of revisiting the life ban debate, as to do so once again deflects attention away from their own failures back onto the athlete in the form of the media-friendly judas, the ‘doping cheat’. Sport is playing to public and media hype, which is distracting attention away from the real issues it faces. And yet again, should such a plan come to fruition, it will be athletes that suffer through sport’s inadequate regulation.


IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017: Day 7 schedule, results, TV channel, how to watch live stream

The track and field action in London continues Thursday as the IAAF World Athletics Championships roll on at London Stadium.

More than 30 track and field athletes who live, train or hail from Oregon and Southwest Washington are competing in London for either Team USA or their home country. The world meet runs through Aug. 13.

Here's the Day 7 schedule of events on Thursday, plus all the details on how to watch the world championships on TV and online.

Because of the time difference between London and the United States, the morning sessions in London will take place overnight in the U.S. and the evening sessions will happen during midday Pacific time.

TV channels: Live coverage of the evening session on NBC Sports Network (Comcast 732 in Portland area) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Pacific time Thursday. Tape delayed on the Olympic Channel (Comcast 787 in Portland area) from 5-9 p.m. Pacific time Thursday.

Live stream: NBC Sports

TOP EVENTS ON DAY 7

Men's 1,500 heats: Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz of the Nike Oregon Project leads the U.S. hopes in the 1,500, with Robby Andrews and former Oregon Ducks runner Johnny Gregorek also competing. Kenya's Elijah Manangoi enters with the world-leading time this year of 3 minutes, 28.80 seconds.

Men's 200 final: South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk and Botswana's Isaac Makwala are the favorites here, but the United States' Isiah Young posted the fastest time in Wednesday's semifinals, clocking 20.12 seconds. American Ameer Webb also is in the field.

DAY 7 SCHEDULE
All times Pacific

Evening session
10:30 a.m.: Women's 5,000 heats
11:05 a.m.:
 Men's javelin qualifying, Group A
11:10 a.m.:
 Women's high jump qualifying
11:25 a.m.:
 Women's 800 heats

12:20 p.m.: Men's triple jump final
12:25 p.m.:
 Men's 1,500 heats
12:35 p.m.:
 Men's javelin qualifying, Group B
1:05 p.m.:
 Women's 200 semifinals
1:35 p.m.: 
Women's 400 hurdles final
1:52 p.m.: 
Men's 200 final

Also see the full world championships results


Is The IAAF Pointing A Gun At Its Own Head?

 


Americans Isiah Young, Ameer Webb advance to 200 final at world championships; Kyree King out

American Isiah Young turned in the fastest time of the day in the men's 200-meter semifinals Wednesday at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Young will be joined in Thursday's final by Team USA's Ameer Webb, who finished second in his heat. Young clocked 20.12 seconds, while Webb's time was 20.22.

Former Oregon Ducks sprinter Kyree King failed to advance to the final, placing fifth in his heat in 20.59.

Isaac Makwala of Botswana finished second in Young's heat to also advance to the final. Makwala had missed the 200 qualifying heats with a stomach bug before being allowed to run a solo race earlier Wednesday for a chance to make the semifinals. Makwala's 20.20 earned him a spot in the semis, where he posted a 20.14.

South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk, the 400 world champion, placed third in his heat but did advance to the final.

The 200 final is scheduled for 1:52 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday.


Joy and heartache for SA speedsters

There was both relief and grief for South Africa's top sprinters on Wednesday night, with Wayde van Niekerk reaching the 200m men final and Akani Simbine being eliminated in the penultimate round at the IAAF World Championships in London, England.

Van Niekerk, who had already wrapped up the 400m title the previous evening, finished third in his half-lap semifinal in 20.28 in cold and wet conditions, making it through to the last round after a long week of racing.

Simbine, however, ended seventh in his race in 20.62 and the 100m finalist was unable to progress.

"Today's race was a bit tough, being my fifth race in five days," Van Niekerk said. "I never expected it to be easy but I'm glad and blessed to make it through. I hope for a good rest and will see when I wake how well my body recovers to race another day, but I have to run.”

After a quiet sixth day of competition for the national team, South Africa has four medals (two gold and two bronze) in the bag.

“It’s been a difficult week for Wayde in his quest for a double and we wish him a speedy body recovery to be able to have a fair challenge of the 200m crown,” said Aleck Skhosana, President of ASA. “We wish all athletes remaining good luck and thank all whose competition has ended for giving their best.”

Thursday, 10 August - Afternoon session:

8.05pm/9.35pm: Rocco van Rooyen - Javelin Throw Men, qualifying
8.25pm: Semenya, Gena Lofstrand - 800m Women, heats
10.05pm: Palframan - 200m Women, semifinals
10.52pm: Van Niekerk - 200m Men, final


WADA Athletes Say Russian Fine Not Enough

Fining Russia rather than restricting their participation at next year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang would be a "superficial gesture" rather than a genuine punishment, according to the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee.

Two International Olympic Committee (IOC) Commissions led by Samuel Schmid and Denis Oswald are currently investigating allegations of institutional doping in Russia and are trying to meet an October deadline to complete their work.

Decisions on how to sanction Russian performances at Sochi 2014 and restrict their participation at Pyeongchang 2018 will be made following the completion of their work.

The Commissions were set up in response to evidence in the McLaren Report published last July alleging that more than 1,000 Russian athletes were implicated in the manipulating and tampering of samples at events, including Sochi 2014.

It was reported today by Press Association that the IOC are understood to be close to issuing a large fine rather than any sort of suspension from Pyeongchang 2018.

According to "senior anti-doping officials" quoted anonymously in the article, the IOC and Russia have "already agreed the terms of the sanctions".

Olympic gold medallist Beckie Scott claimed a fine would not be enough of a punishment.

"I think a fine is a bit of a superficial gesture," the Canadian, winner of an Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing at Salt Lake City 2002, told insidethegames here today.

"To be honest, I think there’s a large percentage of athletes who still feel that, for such a massive scale of corruption and defrauding of the Olympic Games, there was no real consequence of substance [last year].

"Russia still competed in Rio, they competed under their own flag, they brought home medals.

"From an Athletes' Commission perspective, that was not okay.

"I think that the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) did the appropriate thing [to suspend Russia], when faced with such a scale of massive corruption and undermining of sport.

"They did the only thing and that was to revoke the right to participate."

The IOC have rejected reports that they have taken any decisions on what punishment to give to Russia.

When asked if she feels that Winter International Federations are taking the McLaren Report seriously enough, Scott said: "I think the IAAF is the one IF (International Federation) that did the right thing".

Mixed messages appear to be coming out of the IOC and its President Thomas Bach at the moment.

On the one hand, they are appearing to pave the ground for a stricter punishment if, as expected, the IOC investigations confirm that samples were illegally tampered with at Sochi 2014.

On the other, they appear to be giving figures in Russia and elsewhere confidence that only a fine and bans against those athletes directly linked with doping will be issued - so long as no further evidence comes to light.

insidethegames has been told that figures in Russia have made it clear to the IOC that they will refuse to compete neutrally and will boycott the Games if they are not allowed to participate under their own flag.

Unlike the IAAF and IPC, the IOC opted against any blanket suspension of Russia at RIo 2016 soon after the McLaren Report was published last year, instead merely rubber-stamping eligibility decisions made by individual International Federations.

"Any reporting on the possible conclusions of the IOC Commissions is pure speculation," the IOC added in a statement.

"The IOC has set up two Commissions led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, and IOC member Denis Oswald.

"Their work is ongoing and no conclusion has been made."

A final decision is expected to be made by the IOC Executive Board rather than the full membership, although it would presumably be ratified by the latter body at their Session in Pyeongchang immediately before the Olympics.

Scott also said that, if a fine was issued by the IOC to Russia, the money should "absolutely" be given to WADA and spent on anti-doping work.

"It would not be superficial in this case," Scott, a former member of the IOC Athletes' Commission, quipped.

Scott was speaking here following a WADA Athlete Committee meeting at which a wish was expressed for "more transparency when it comes to Russia and what is happening".

They also called for "more statistics of testing and what they and RUSADA are doing" and "more clarity on closed cities and access to them".

"We also heard to today from the Athlete Committee and different Commissions that Russia needs to take responsibility for what happened," added WADA deputy director general Rob Koehler to insidethegames.

"We are getting information that it will happen, but we will see."

Koehler did, though, praise Russian Athletics Federation President Dmitry Shlyakhtin after he apologised to "all athletes who had gold and silver medals snatched from them" during a speech to the IAAF Congress here last week.

"It was pretty significant actually that he came out and apologised for what they had done in Russia," Koehler said.

"It was seen by the IAAF Taskforce as significant as well.

"It is a step in the right direction."


Colleen Quigley disqualified, but Courtney Frerichs, Emma Coburn advance to steeplechase final

Bowerman Track Club steeplechaser Colleen Quigley finished third in her heat on Wednesday at the IAAF World Athletics Championships and was set to advance to Friday's final.

But then Quigley was disqualified for stepping on the white line that divides the track from the infield at London Stadium. She apparently stepped on the boundary line twice, near the same location after the water jump, during the 3,000-meter event.

Quigley's Bowerman Track Club teammate, Courtney Frerichs, finished third in her heat in 9 minutes, 25.14 seconds to grab an automatic qualifier for the final. American Emma Coburn placed second in her heat in 9:27.42 to also automatically advance to the final.

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech turned in the top qualifying time of 9:19.03.


Allyson Felix misses out on record-breaking 10th world title with 400m bronze in London

There was to be no perfect 10 for Allyson Felix last night, as the queen of the track could only finish third in the 400m final.

With nine world titles under her belt over a variety of distances, Felix had hoped to become the first athlete in history to reach double figures, but instead picked up bronze in the pouring London rain.

Bookmakers would probably have paid out on Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo winning gold with 20 metres remaining and a significant lead over the chasing pack, but there was a dramatic late twist to the race as the Bahamian appeared to pick up a sudden injury and almost stop dead in her tracks before fading to fourth.

That left America’s Phyllis Francis to win a highly unexpected gold, with Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser taking silver.

There are few who would deny that when Felix steps onto an athletics track, she does so with an air of divinity.

No woman has won as many global medals as the American – nine Olympic and now an incredible 14 world – and surely none have made it onto a podium with as much grace.

Even in the sheeting rain that refused to relent all night in London, Felix managed to glide over the glistening surface.

Yet at 31, there comes a point when the question must be asked – how much longer can she go on at the highest level?

In Rio last summer there was a first hint that a changing of the guard was about to take place when Miller-Uibo – at that stage just called Miller – literally threw herself over the line to claim the Olympic title.

Miller-Uibo was not to deny her on this occasion, but Felix still found two of her rivals too good for her. Another medal, but the gold remained elusive.

Reigning Olympic 400m hurdles champion Kerron Clement fell short in his bid to secure a third world title as young Norwegian Karsten Warholm unexpectedly picked up the first major title of his senior career.

Warholm, 21, made a bold move to take the race out hard from the outset, but clung onto the lead and crossed the line victorious in 48.35sec, with Turkey’s Yasmani Copello second and Clement third.

China’s Lijiao Gong produced a masterclass to win shot put gold. A bronze medallist four years ago and silver medallist at the last World Championships, Lijiao threw beyond 19 metres with five of her six efforts and completed her medal set with a best of 19.94m. Anita Marton, of Hungary, took silver and American Michelle Carter claimed bronze.

There were mixed fortunes for a host of British athletes looking to progress through to the latter stages of their events.

The woeful conditions had a major impact in women’s long jump qualification, where not a single one of the 30 athletes managed to reach the 6.70m automatic qualifying mark to advance through to the final.

Lorraine Ugen showed she could adapt as well as any of the leading medal candidates, qualifying third best with her opening effort of 6.63m. Twice an indoor medallist at world and European level, Ugen has struggled to replicate her form outdoors, but showed her potential to challenge the podium in Friday’s final.

“I’m going out there trying to get a medal,” she said. “I'm definitely going out there with those kind of aspirations and I’ll just see what happens on the day.

“I’m really happy to be able to make it through.”

There was no such luck for her two British team-mates. Shara Proctor, who won world silver two years ago, missed out on the final by just one centimetre as she jumped a best of 6.45m, while Jazmin Sawyers could manage just 6.34m.

Nick Miller spent as little time as possible in the rain, requiring a single throw to advance through to the hammer final after launching his opening effort 75.52m.

“First throw – job done,” he said. “That was the plan, just take a nice easy throw, confident, and walk away.

“I felt good, I’m in good shape, I just wanted to do myself proud.

“Last year I had a stress fracture in my spine and I kind of went in to the Rio Olympics knowing it was a long shot, but now I’m healthy and things are looking good.

“This year is a new year and now I’m here, I’m ready to play.”

Lennie Waite and Rosie Clarke both finished well down the field in the women’s 3,000 steeplechase heats, although Clarke did well to finish ninth after twice falling as she struggled with the dismal conditions in east London.


Francis shocks Felix, Miller-Uibo for world 400m gold

London (AFP) - American Phyllis Francis ripped up the form book to claim a shock gold in the women's 400m at the IAAF World Championships on Wednesday.

The race had been billed as a straight duel between multi-medalled American Allyson Felix, the defending champion, and Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

But clear leader Miller-Uibo tied up in shocking fashion with 20 metres to run to allow hard-charging Francis, 25, win with a personal best of 49.92 seconds.

Bahrain teenager Salwa Eid Naser claimed silver in a national record of 50.06, with Felix taking bronze, just 0.02sec adrift, as Miller-Uibo went from first to fourth in the final strides.


Young Norwegian Warholm earns shock 400m hurdles triumph 

LONDON (Reuters) - Norway's Karsten Warholm announced himself as one of athletics' brightest new talents as he recorded a magnificent gun-to-line triumph to lift the world 400 meters hurdles title in the pouring rain on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old former multi-eventer demonstrated all the strength he has acquired from competing as an all-rounder as he led from the first hurdle and was powerful enough to hold off his pursuers on the home straight to win in 48.35 seconds.

The youngster clasped his face in disbelief afterwards as it dawned that he had beaten European champion Yasmani Copello, (48.49) into the silver medal position while U.S. Olympic champion and race favorite Kerron Clement (48.52) had to settle for bronze.

It was the first track victory at any World Championships by a Norwegian athlete since Ingrid Kristiansen's 10,000 meters triumph in Rome in 1987.

(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis)


Botswana's Makwala cleared to run, qualifies for 200m semi

LONDON (Reuters) - Botswana's Isaac Makwala was cleared to run in the men's 200 metres at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday by the IAAF which had previously barred him for medical reasons - and celebrated his reprieve by qualifying for the semi-finals.

Makwala was prevented from running in Monday's opening 200 metres heat and Tuesday's 400m final after falling victim to an outbreak of sickness that has hit scores of competitors.

The 30-year-old, seen as a leading contender in both events, had insisted he was fit enough to race while the sport's world governing body had said he had an infectious disease and needed to be quarantined.

But on Wednesday the IAAF said the quarantine period had ended and Makwala could run in the semi-finals in the evening - provided he first achieved the qualifying time of 20.53 seconds in an individual time trial before the main session.

Although he was forced to run in much worse conditions than the competitors had in the first round two days ago with the rain teeming down in the London Stadium for much of Wednesday, Makwala sped round the wet track on his own in 20.20 seconds.

It meant he had qualified comfortably for the semi-finals to be staged two and a quarter hours later.

Cheered by spectators who were still coming into the stadium for the evening session, Makwala prayed before the start and, after glancing at the clock at the end of the race, went into a series of celebratory press-ups on the track.

"Following a medical examination which has declared him fit to compete, we have agreed under our existing rules that assuming he makes the qualification time, he will run in the 200m semi-final round this evening," the IAAF said in a statement.

WRITTEN REQUEST

The IAAF said it made the decision following a written request from Botswana's athletics federation. It said none of the athletes who had already qualified would be expelled to make way for him.

Makwala followed in the footsteps of the United States women's 4 x 100 metres relay team who ran alone against the clock after successfully appealing against their semi-final elimination at last year's Rio Olympics. They went on to win the gold medal.

Makwala's saga began when he failed to appear for his opening 200 metres heat on Monday and the IAAF said shortly afterwards that he had been ordered to withdraw by its medical delegate.

On Tuesday, Makwala told the BBC he had been ready to race and was fit and well for the 400 metres final later in the day. Shortly afterwards, the IAAF withdrew him from that race as well.

Makwala still went to the stadium on Tuesday but when he attempted to go through the dedicated athletes' entrance an official and security personnel barred his way and he was led away.

Botswana sports minister Thapelo Olopeng was among those unhappy at the treatment of Makwala, a national hero.

"The manner in which our athlete was treated has hurt us all, as there was no conclusive evidence of the disease," he said. "Our officials have prepared a report and we have filed our concerns with IAAF."

Several athletes from Botswana, Germany, Canada, Ireland and Puerto Rico have been taken ill over the last few days, with some quarantined and others forced to miss their events.

Competition organisers said on Monday that the illnesses were a result of gastroenteritis, but public health officials said on Tuesday that laboratory tests had confirmed two cases of norovirus among approximately 30 victims.

(Additional reporting by Gene Cherry in London and Brian Benza in Gaborone,; Editing by Ed Osmond)


Mo Farah on path to double gold in first round of men's 5,000m

  • Mo Farah competes in the first round of the men's 5,000m at 20.05, and will be expected to qualify comfortably for the final on Saturday.
  • There are medals to be won in the women's shot put, men's 400m hurdles and women's 400m, while Wayde van Niekerk will make an appearance in the men's 200m semi-finals at 20:55.
  • Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo go head-to-head in the 400m at 21:50, in a repeat of their scintillating race in Rio.


7:33PM

Chepkoech wins it

Ruth Jebet comes in second, while the USA's Courtney Frerichs is the third automatic qualifier.

7:28PM

First round of the women's 3,000m steeplechase, second heat

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech and Bahrain's Ruth Jebet are way ahead of everyone else.

7:22PM

Women's long jump qualifying

Bearing in mind it's been tipping it down all day, the conditions aren't the best for the long jump. Nonetheless, the women's qualifiers are up next, with 6.70 the distance needed to go through automatically.

7:17PM

Team GB's Lennie Waite way back in the steeplechase

Gesa Felicitas Krause of Germany comes in first, with Lennie Waite towards the back of the pack in the first heat.

7:11PM

First round of the women's 3,000m steeplechase

Why aren't there any events where runners have to duck under things? Food for thought.

7:05PM

Let's take a look at the medals table

This is how things stand at the moment. Team GB have a single gold on the board, which doesn't bode well for their ambitious medals target.

6:49PM

Medal ceremonies, as usual

Time for the customary medal ceremonies, with the top three in the men's 3,000m steeplechase up first. Gold went to Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto, silver to Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco and bronze to Evan Jager of the USA.

6:44PM

He's done it!

Makwala tears over the line with a time of 20.20, immediately leaping to the floor and popping some press-ups. That sends a pretty emphatic message about his fitness to the IAAF.

6:41PM

Makwala ready to run

He has to run 20.53 seconds or quicker to qualify for the 200m semis. The crowd are rooting for him, even if he makes for an unlikely underdog.

6:40PM

Langford reflects on a promising performance

After last night's credible run in the men's 800m - fourth with a personal best of 1:45.25 - Kyle Langford seems chirpy as he speaks to Gabby Logan and co. in the studio. He's definitely a confident lad, and one to watch for Team GB fans.

6:29PM

Meanwhile, hope for Makwala?

One of the big talking points ahead of Van Niekerk's triumph in the 400m was the enforced absence of Isaac Makwala, seen by many as his most credible challenger. Makwala had been taken ill - apparently with a bout of norovirus - but insisted that he was well enough to race, a view not shared by the IAAF.

With the IAAF's decision to pull him out of the race proving highly controversial, they have gone some way towards making amends by allowing him to run an individual time trial tonight which could see him qualify for the 200m semi-finals. His qualification race will take place at 18:40, just under two hours ahead of the semi-finals themselves.

6:15PM

Wayde van Niekerk races again

We've seen a lot of Van Niekerk at these Championships, but thankfully he's well worth watching. After last night's gold in the men's 400m, he runs in the 200m semi-finals this evening.

6:10PM

Greetings, and welcome to Day Six of the London 2017 World Championships

Running, jumping, throwing things a long way: we've got all that and more coming up at the London Stadium.

While it's only the first round of the men's 5,000m, all eyes will be on Mo Farah as he goes after his second gold medal of the Championships. The 34-year-old is switching to road racing next year, and having won 10,000m gold last Friday he will be hoping to end his track career with a flourish.

Farah has won the 5,000m at the last three World Championships, as well as at Rio 2016 and London 2012. He competes in the first heat tonight and will be expected to breeze through, though he will be running alongside one of his main rivals in the form of Muktar Edris. With a season's best of 12:55.23, the Ethiopian runner is officially the fastest man this year.

While the 5,000m final isn't until Saturday, there are medals on offer tonight in the women's shot put, men's 400m hurdles and women's 400m. Representatives from Team GB are conspicuously absent from these events, though there should still be plenty of excitement on offer.

World champion Allyson Felix will face off against Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400m, in a re-run of their nail-biting race at the Rio Olympics. Miller-Uibo famously won gold after diving over the line at the Estadio Olimpico, beating Felix by 0.07 of a second.

Will Felix have her revenge tonight?


Damian Warner Has The Chance Of A Lifetime

Canadian decathlete eyes gold at world championships

If there was ever a time for Damian Warner to capture his first gold medal at a major international event, this is it. And he knows it.

"I'm not here to just have fun," the Canadian decathlete said before the world track and field championships. "I'd be lying if I said that my goal isn't to win in London."

For most of Warner's career, he's had a front-row seat to witness one of the most prolific decathletes of all time — American Ashton Eaton, the two-time world and Olympic champion who holds the world-record score of 9,045 points.

Eaton's brilliance helped block Warner from reaching the top of the podium at the four most prestigious meets where they competed against each other, with the American winning gold each time.

After placing fifth at the 2012 Olympics in London, Warner picked up a bronze medal in Rio last summer. The closest Warner ever came to beating Eaton for gold was at the 2015 world championships, where he took silver. At the 2013 worlds, the Canadian finished with bronze.

"Every world competition I've ever been in, Ashton has always been there," Warner said. "He's an awesome competitor and brings the most out of the people competing."

But that can all be put in the past tense now since Eaton retired in January. Though Rio silver medallist Kevin Mayer of France still stands in his way, the door appears more open for Warner to get that elusive gold medal as the men's decathlon event opens Friday in London.

"I think he can win," says Eaton.

The American has been keeping a low profile since he and his wife — Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, an Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist — jointly announced their retirements last winter.

"We stay up late," Eaton says with a laugh about their new life. "We hang out with friends and have seen our families more this year than the past decade."

Big change

Though he has left the sport, Eaton says he'll be paying close attention to the world championships — especially the performance of his friend and former rival, Warner.

"He is very much a competitor," Eaton says. "He never wants to give up, and that's very important."

Eaton says what makes Warner great, and also accounted for his own success, are three components — physical ability, mental ability and the team and environment around him.

"If you don't have one of those three, it's extremely difficult to be successful," he says. "If you look at any successful athlete, they'll have all three."

One of those factors, the team around Warner, changed this past off season.

Calling it the hardest thing he's ever had to do, Warner informed his coaches and the people closest to him that he was leaving his hometown of London, Ont., to move to Calgary and train with well-known coach Les Gramantik.

Warner hopes new coach leads to Olympic gold
"I pulled up in the car and just started crying," Warner said. "I was really scared when I talked to [the coaches]. I thought I was going to lose them as friends and family because that's what they became to me."

Instead, they all supported Warner as he embarked on his new journey in Calgary, far away from the familiar confines of London.

Eaton thinks it was a smart move. The American says he made little changes throughout his career to shake things up, try new things and push himself out of his comfort zone.

"There is a certain learning that happens, a growth, when you change things," he says. "Learning never subtracts. So when you do change your environment, you grow. I can understand why he did that."

Warner was blunt about the decision to change things up.

"I had to look in the mirror at the end of the day," he said. "One of the reasons I made the move was because I wasn't as mature as I needed to be as an athlete. It's kind of a tough pill to swallow and tough thing to realize. I just felt as a person I needed to grow."

Now, with Eaton out of the picture, Warner has his best chance ever to parlay that growth into a world title.


The 2017 IAAF world championships disconnect

LONDON — No matter if it’s sports or what journalists call hard news, all young reporters learn early on a truism. Whether it’s a big court case, a political race or a major sports event like these 2017 IAAF track and field world championships or an NFL Super Bowl, there are always — always — at least two storylines.

There’s the action itself.

And then there’s what’s happening around it.

With the 2017 worlds nearing the halfway mark, it’s entirely unclear whether they seem destined to be remembered for the track and field itself, which truly has been remarkable if not historic.

Or for everything else — which, among other things, has shown a spotlight on the sanctimonious righteousness and hypocrisy of the British press, a corresponding and appalling lack of good manners by the crowds in connection with the U.S. 100-meter gold medalist Justin Gatlin, a public-health mini-crisis that if it had happened last summer in Rio would doubtlessly be cause for wholesale reflection on quality of life in the developing world and, then, to switch gears, the presentation of the track and field itself, which is, for the IAAF, at best, a work in progress and begs an essential question:

Is a track and field world championship in 2017 a live event in a stadium — or a television product?

As for the races as well as the throws and jumps, and even this recap will hardly do justice to how truly awesome, especially for track geeks, the first half of this meet has been:

— Mo Farah’s 10k win last Friday called on every bit of the double-double Olympic distance champion’s physical and emotional will. Seven guys finished under 27 minutes, the 34-year-old Farah winning in a world-lead 26:49.51 to hold back 20-year-old Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, who finished just 43-hundredths of a second back.

Already, this men’s 10k is being compared to some of the greatest ever, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic 10k, when Ethiopia’s Haile Gereselassie out-dueled Kenya’s Paul Tergat down the stretch for gold. The winning margin: nine-hundreths of a second.

— Gatlin beat Bolt. Christian Coleman beat Bolt. Gatlin 9.92, Coleman 9.94, Bolt 9.95.

Already, this men’s 100 is being called arguably the greatest men’s ever. It was Bolt’s last individual 100. And he lost. To the same guy who had beaten him the last time had lost — four years before, in Rome.

— Add to the short-list of all-time races: Monday night’s women’s 1500, won by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon in 4:02.59.

The field included the world-record holder (Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba), 2017 world leader (Holland’s Sifan Hassan), 2016 Olympic champions at 1500 meters (Kipyegon) and 800 meters (South Africa’s Caster Semenya), and Rio 1500 bronze medalist (American Jenny Simpson, also 2011 world champion in the 1500).

Simpson, finding space along the rail, took silver, just 17-hundredths behind Kipyegon. On the outside, Semenya got third, 14-hundredths behind Simpson.

Just seven-hundredths back of Semenya: Britain’s Laura Muir, fourth.

— With the political and economic situation in her country volatile, Venezuela’s 21-year-old Yulimar Rojas won the women’s triple jump, her winning leap 14.91 meters, or 48 feet-11 inches, just two centimeters, about three-quarters of an inch, better than the longtime champion, Colombia’s Catherine Ibarguen.

It was Venezuela’s first-ever world track and field title, and it came just one day Robeilys Peinado took bronze in the women’s pole vault.

“What great pride to see the victory of our Yulimar Rojas, a glorious athlete of the golden generation,” tweeted Venezuela president Nicolas Máduro. “Congratulations on your medal!”

— American Tori Bowie won the women’s 100, falling across the line in 10.85, just one-hundredth in front of Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast. It marked the first time since 2005 Americans had won both the men’s and women’s 100s at the worlds (Gatlin, Lauryn Williams).

— Amy Cragg took bronze in the marathon, the first American to win a worlds medal since Marianne Dickerson in 1983, the very first IAAF worlds.

— Mason Finley took bronze in the discus, the first American worlds medalist since Anthony Washington won the 1999 worlds, and only the third U.S. medalist in history. Finley took third place using a borrowed disc; his personal competition disc broke during qualifying, when a competitor had used it.

— Evan Jager won the first-ever medal by an American man at the world championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Tuesday night, a bronze, 8:14:12. Kenya’s Conselsus Kipruto won gold in a hard-charging and theatrical last lap, 8:14.12, Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco silver in 8:14.49

— In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Jamaica’s Omar McLeod repeated his Rio 2016 victory; Russia’s Sergey Shubenko, running here as an “Authorized Neutral Athlete,” got second; and Hungary’s Bálazs Baji, third. In world championships history, Hungary previously had won 11 medals — eight in the throws, two in the combined events, one in the pole vault. Incredibly, Baji’s bronze in the hurdles marked Hungary’s first-ever medal on the track.

The American Aries Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder, took fifth, less than two years after kidney transplant surgery. Just think about that.

“I’m just happy still to be part it,” Merritt said afterward.

All good. So good.

And yet …

— Consider Monday night’s program. It started at 6:30 p.m. local time with the heats of the men’s 200 meters; the last race, that women’s 1500, didn’t end until just before 10 p.m. That’s essentially three and a half hours. If you are the parents of elementary school-age kids, who are you kidding? No way.

Beyond which, there were four finals but really only two with concrete action. The first two took, literally, hours — women’s hammer and women’s triple jump. The other two, the men’s 110 hurdles and the women’s 1500, were the last two events of the night — meaning you had to wait all night to see an event that, practically speaking, counted.

Tuesday night was only marginally better. Yes, it started at 7:20 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m. There were five finals with two, women’s javelin and men’s pole vault, winding along for a long time. The other three — men’s 3,000 steeplechase, then the men’s 800 and men’s 400, came one after another, bang-bang-bang, after 9 p.m., the 400 about 9:50 p.m.

The steeple started at 9:11 p.m., with the best five guys left in the pole vault. As China’s Xue Changrui went for a lifetime best, a first jump at 5.89 meters, 19-3 3/4, the steeple pack trotted by. Xue missed. The pack moved along. Whatever.

How long can the steeplechase stay on the worlds program? The hammer throw? The race walk? Pick an event, or for that matter events, because something has to give: 44 medal events is too many.

Start the howling now from all those with special interests for their event. Understood. But 44 events is too many at a worlds, and young people are tuning out.

Same problem, different execution:

The finalists for Monday’s men’s sprint hurdles final were introduced via sparkly fireworks, their names splashed across the big screen. They ran out of the tunnel and onto the track. Yay!

Then — nothing.

For four minutes, maybe longer, the guys stood around, fidgeting in front of the blocks because the TVs had turned to the finals of the women’s triple jump. Then — the cameras went back to the hurdlers, introducing them one-by-one in their lanes. Then, and only then, did they settle into their blocks for the race.

Back to the central question: is a track meet a made-for-TV event at which the stadium and the audience are props, or is the main focus supposed to be what happens on the ground? Are the two reconcilable?

And then …

— The boos inside Olympic Stadium for Gatlin, every time he raced and even when he got his medal.

— This kind of thing, from radio host Garry Richardson on his influential BBC 5 Live “Sportsweek” show, speaking Sunday with IAAF president Seb Coe: “Is this the worst result ever for the sport of athletics?” Richardson, again to Coe, referring to the medals ceremony: “If you can, will you try to avoid Justin Gatlin?” And: “The medals ceremony this evening — it’s going to be embarrassing. Would you urge people to just be silent? To turn away?” (Coe: “We’re not thought police here.”)

One more exchange:

Richardson: “Some people might say that if Gatlin had anything about him, he’d actually bump into you today and say, look, this is going to be very, very embarrassing, send my gold medal to me in the post.”

Coe: “I don’t expect that, and I think it is highly unlikely.”

Richardson: “It would be good probably if he did that. Do you agree?”

Coe: “I’m not going to go down that road, Garry. It’s a medals ceremony. I think athletes have to make judgments themselves. I think that, you know, the one lesson in all this and this is why it is so important that we maintain our education programs, because bad, poor decisions that are made individually and sometimes with the collusion and knowledge of people at formative moments in the athletes’ careers that should have guided them better has left a lot of the athletes in the position they find themselves in today. That’s not an excuse. But it is a reality, that he worked with a coach who is now out of the sport and should remain out of the sport. And, you know, we have to absolutely make sure that we do everything we possibly can to get young athletes and a generation of coaches to understand that it is possible to go from an 11-year-child on a playground onto a rostrum, and to do it clean. And if you don’t, there are very, very big consequences, and we have as a sport to let the clean athletes know, as we have and I think we have demonstrated by the tough decisions my sport has made that, frankly, no other sport has been prepared to make in the last year: we have to let them know we are in their corner. And I am non-negotiable on this. But, you know, we are also bound by codes and the legality and the challenges that people in all walks of life take to court.”

As if Richardson’s point of view wasn’t enough, there’s this display ad, which ran Tuesday on pages 18 and 19 of the Times of London:

Reached by email, a spokeswoman for the Times declined to comment.

Gatlin, according to representatives, assuredly did not authorize the use of his likeness — which, incidentally, features the Team USA marks as well — for commercial use.

Yet the staid Times of London thought sassing Gatlin an appropriate way to leverage newspaper sales. On what grounds?

— Finally;

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, one of the world’s best, withdrew Monday from the men’s 200-meter heats after getting sick in the stadium medical room, the Guardian reported. On Tuesday, the IAAF said he was being withdrawn — whether he wanted to, or not — from the night’s 400 final, where he was a medal favorite, after he was “diagnosed with an infectious disease …”

The IAAF also said:

“These procedures are recommended by Public Health England and were clearly explained to the teams in writing … on Sunday (6 Aug) and in person to the Botswanan delegation, a member of which was present with many other representatives of teams at a meeting that took place at the Guoman Tower Hotel on Sunday.”

In all, according to a flurry of news accounts citing public health officials, about 30 people connected to the championships — athletes and support staff — have been infected in what was described as a suspected outbreak of novovirus.

Nine people were still affected by Tuesday afternoon, the local organizing committee reportedly said.

A focus of the inquiry: the Tower hotel, near Tower Bridge, where the Botswana, German, Canadian, Irish and Puerto Rican teams were staying. The hotel declared it was “not the source of the illness,” according to a report in the Olympic-themed website Inside the Games.

Without the 30-year-old Makwala, South Africa’s van Niekerk, already the favorite, suddenly became also the oldest guy in the final. He is 25. He was also the only guy who took part in the 400 either last summer in Rio or at the 2015 worlds in Beijing — winner both times, world-record setter (43.03) in Rio.

Anticipating the 200 double, van Niekerk ran an easy 43.98 for the win.

To the federation’s credit, its statement also said this: “The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes.”

Just imagine, meanwhile, what The Times’ editorial staff would be writing if a public health, ah, situation like this had happened last year in Rio.

Is someone now going to go on the radio and declare that this is very, very embarrassing?


Felix Relishes Rematch After Close Rio 400 Loss

LONDON (AP) — The scrapes for Shaunae Miller-Uibo have no doubt healed. The scars from the loss for Allyson Felix have not.

Miller-Uibo used a head-first dive at the finish to beat her American rival in the 400-meter final at the Rio de Janeiro Games last August.

Felix is very much looking forward to the rematch Wednesday at the world championships as she tries to defend her title. Defeats are rare for Felix, and never sit well with her, especially the way this one unfolded. Miller-Uibo, who is from the Bahamas, jumped out to an early lead, then held off Felix’s charge along the straightaway. Side-by-side with two steps to go, Miller sprawled and tumbled across the line to win by 0.07 seconds.

“I never get past losses. They just motivate me,” Felix said. “It’s a part of my story.”

A lot has changed for Miller-Uibo since that day in Brazil. Namely, she got married earlier this year to Estonian decathlete Maicel Uibo.

Miller-Uibo and Felix had two of the fastest times in the semifinals. The top time, though, belonged to Salwa Eid Naser, who represents Bahrain and set a national record in 50.08 seconds.

Felix will be chasing after her 10th gold medal at the worlds. She’s also planning on being a part of the 4×100 and 4×400 relay squads.

“I figure when my career is done, I’ll look back and kind of appreciate everything,” said Felix, who skipped her signature event, the 200 — where Miller-Uibo is among the favorites — to concentrate on the 400. “You never want to underestimate anyone that’s in the race. Just looking forward to executing my race.”

A look at Day 6 of the world championships:

BIG HURDLE TO CLEAR: American runner Kerron Clement stays motivated by thinking about history. Should he win the 400-meter hurdles final, Clement would become the only person to win three world golds in the event. His other titles were in 2007 and ’09. “I’m just more hungry,” said the 31-year-old Clement, who captured Olympic gold in Brazil. “Those young guys, they motivate me so much. I have to stay on top of my game. They’re chasing me. I’m excited to have another opportunity.”

TAKING THEIR BEST SHOT: With Valerie Adams of New Zealand and Christina Schwanitz of Germany both on the sideline this season, there are no past world champions in the mix for the women’s shot put title. Among those who could take the top spot are Michelle Carter of the United States, who is the Olympic champion, and Gong Lijiao of China. Those two led the way in qualifying Tuesday.

HAMMER ON: The top nine hammer throws in the world this season all belong to defending world champion Pawel Fajdek of Poland. Still, he’s carrying some baggage heading into the qualifying round Wednesday. Fajdek struggled at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and stunningly didn’t advance to the final. He said he had low energy in Brazil. The final is Friday and Fajdek’s top challenger in London may be teammate Wojciech Nowicki, who beat Fajdek at the Polish national championships.

MO POWER: The Kenyans and Ethiopians could scheme against British runner Mo Farah to keep him from winning the 5,000 meters. The field tried that sort of tactic for the 10,000 earlier in the championships and Farah still won. He’s going for his fourth straight 5,000 title, with the prelims Wednesday and the final set for Saturday. His plan after this season is to go to the marathon.

NO BOLT: Still a little hard to believe — the 200-meter semifinals will go off and Usain Bolt won’t be in the mix. The Jamaican great has captured four straight titles in the event, but decided to sit this one out. That leaves Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa as the favorite.


Van Niekerk left on his own to chase history (Video)

LONDON -- Wayde van Niekerk eased home in the 400-meter final to secure the first part of a potential gold medal double at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, but two questions remained after the race.

First, what would have happened had Botswanan Isaac Makwala been allowed to race? And second, as Van Niekerk eased home, is Usain Bolt's 200-meter record under threat in an event the South African prefers to the full-lap distance?

Van Niekerk was imperious in London, as he lit up the night's athletics on a chilly evening. He said afterward that he was cold prior to the race and found it hard to warm up -- welcome to the British summer, Wayde -- but he still won comfortably with a time of 43.98 seconds. There was no repeat of the events following his gold-medal win at Beijing 2015, when he collapsed due to exhaustion and left the stadium in an ambulance. He looked completely in his comfort zone on Tuesday night.

It was billed as the race where he might trouble the 43-second barrier, but as he slowed down in the final stretch, it was a case of job well done and attention turned to the 200 semifinals on Wednesday.

But it could have been a much harder task for Van Niekerk had Makwala been permitted to run. The afternoon's events were punctuated by a statement and counter-statement regarding Makwala's desire to run in the 400 final at London Stadium, but confusion aside, it robbed the race of a matchup between the two fastest men in the world over the distance this year.

"Obviously there are a lot of fingers that are being pointed right now," Van Niekerk said of the Makwala drama during his postrace news conference. "I would allow him to have his fair opportunity.

"I wish he could have run. I have so much sympathy for him. I wish I could give him my medal, to be honest. But this is sport. We all have disappointments, we all have tough times. But we just have to fight back even harder."

He said afterward the race was "never going to be a walk in the park", but it was comfortable for Van Niekerk. That may be just as well, as this was day three of potentially five consecutive days on the track as he seeks to replicate Michael Johnson's 1995 feat of winning both 200 and 400 titles. Van Niekerk had more than one eye on events to come.

"I have two more rounds [in the 200 meters] and I thought if the times aren't going to come [in the 400], there's no use to push it to my limits."
Wayde van Niekerk

In the last 150 meters of the race he looked up to the screen, saw the lead he had, and, in his words, "thought of my health" as he turned his attention to the 200. "I have two more rounds and I thought if the times aren't going to come [Van Niekerk's winning 400 time of 43.98 seconds was nearly a second slower than his world record set in Rio], there's no use to push it to my limits," Van Niekerk said.

The buildup of lactic acid meant Van Niekerk conducted a postrace in-stadium interview on his back.

"The recovery process tonight was difficult, it took a while to recover," he said. "The recovery process is important as it's going from endurance straight to speed tomorrow, and I need to get myself into recovery."

With the post-Bolt era beckoning, the 200 will give us another indication of whether Van Niekerk can fill the Jamaican's boots on the track in the half-lap distance to match his off-track billing as the new face of athletics.

Van Niekerk has always been reluctant to align himself as "the next Bolt," and in personality terms, they are vastly different. Bolt has always mixed showmanship with his incredible form on the track; Van Niekerk is more of an introvert, with his Instagram feed limited to the odd sponsorship plug and pictures with teammates and training videos, rather than the all-access approach Bolt grants his millions of fans.

But Van Niekerk speaks with an assuredness befitting someone who knows how brightly the spotlight shines on them.

"I know I have a massive responsibility on me to continue growing and performing," Van Niekerk said. "It's important to continue the great legacy that the greats before me have left behind, and to continue building track and field."

The London crowd usually cheers loudest for hometown favourites, but the roar Van Niekerk received prior to Tuesday's final was a sure contender for ovation of the night.

Should he make the 200 final, Wednesday and Thursday will only help build the anticipation and that iconic stature.

There is a sense that Van Niekerk is only getting started. When asked how he feels about the 400 compared to the 200, his eyes lit up.

"I love the 200," Van Niekerk said, smiling from ear to ear.

In an interview earlier this year, he said he is only racing the 400 because his coach -- 75-year-old Ans Botha -- adores the event. But Van Niekerk thrives off the blink-and-you'll-miss-it intensity of the 200, a race that is about going all out rather than playing it a little more tactically.

If Tuesday night was a duty for Van Niekerk in a straightforward race, then we can expect to see something truly special from him over the next couple of days, with the focus hopefully on a remarkable event on the track, rather than events off it.


Ta Lou & Schippers To Clash In Birmingham DL

Ivory Coast, Denmark and more to face best of British later this month

LONDON 2017 100m silver and bronze medallists Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers will race against an exceptional field at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham on August 20.

Ta Lou, from Ivory Coast, who was fourth at the Olympic Games in Rio over 200m last year, ran a personal best of 10.86 seconds to finish with the silver medal, in a dramatic 100m World Championship final in the London Stadium.

Dutch star Schippers, the defending 200m world champion, clocked 10.96 to take the third spot.

CHAMPION

Five of the eight finalists from the 100m final in London will be in the starting line up at the Alexander Stadium in two weeks’ time. Ta Lou and Schippers, plus 2013 world 100m and 200m silver medallist Muriel Ahouré of Ivory Coast, Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago and Roseangela Santos of Brazil.

The home challenge will come from Britain’s fastest woman Dina Asher-Smith European indoor 60m champion Asha Philip and fellow Olympic 4x100m relay bronze medallists Daryll Neita and Desiree Henry.

Schippers said:

“It’s been a fantastic summer for track and field events in the UK and I think the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham will be a great celebration for all the athletes after the World Championships. It’s one of the best meets in the world and there’s a really strong line up in the 100m in Birmingham.”

London 2017 women’s pole vault world champion Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece and silver medallist Sandi Morris of the USA, are expected to provide a great show for the crowd, when they get on the runway at the prestigious IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham. Stefanidi, the 2016 Olympic champion, jumped a new national record of 4.91m to secure the world title ahead of Morris, who also took silver in Rio last year.

All three men’s shot put medallists from London, world champion Tom Walsh of New Zealand, silver medallist Joe Kovacs of the USA and bronze medallist Stipe Zunic of Croatia, will also compete at the Alexander Stadium on August 20.

VENUE

The Müller Grand Prix Birmingham, will be the culmination of an outstanding summer of global athletics events in the UK and include Sir Mo Farah’s last ever track race on home soil.

Niels de Vos, chief executive of UK Athletics said:

“The Alexander Stadium is an outstanding venue for athletics and the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham will be one of the best events of the summer series.

“Over one million people have watched world class athletics in the UK this summer and the event in Birmingham will round off the season in the UK in style with crowds celebrating the very best in track and field.”

The Müller Grand Prix Birmingham is supported by Birmingham City Council and takes place exactly one week after the end of the IAAF World Championships.


MJ Pushes Makwala Conspiracy Theory

The World Athletics Championships plumbed further depths of farce last night, as Botswana sprinter Isaac Makwala was forbidden from entering the stadium to compete in the men's 400m final. He was the main challenger to South African Wayde van Niekerk, yet was not allowed compete by the IAAF, and they clarified their stance in a statement after the race.

In a statement, the IAAF confirmed that Makwala had been quarantined for 48 hours having been diagnosed with an "infectious disease".

Isaac Makwala (BOT) has been withdrawn by the IAAF Medical Delegate – click here – from tonight’s 400m final after the athlete was diagnosed with an infectious disease on Monday.

As per UK health regulations, it was requested that he be quarantined in his room for 48 hours, a period which ends at 14:00hrs tomorrow (9 Aug).

These procedures are recommended by Public Health England and were clearly explained to the teams in writing – click here – on Sunday (6 Aug) and in person to the Botswanan delegation, a member of which was present with many other representatives of teams at a meeting that took place at the Guoman Tower Hotel on Sunday.

The decision to withdraw him from the 200m heats last night and the 400m final today was made on the basis of a medical examination conducted in the warm-up medical centre by a qualified doctor on Monday (7 Aug) and recorded in the electronic medical record system of the championships. A copy of this medical record was given to a member of the BOT team medical staff following the examination.

The team doctor, team leader and team physio had been informed following the medical examination that the athlete should be quarantined for 48 hours and would therefore be missing the 400m final on Tuesday.

The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes.

Makwala, however, was furious, and told the BBC that he was not ill, and contested the IAAF's claim that he was tested:

I was not that sick. I just vomited. Like any other athlete, I vomit... I could have run because I did my warm-up well and I did everything well. I was ready to run. They say they are waiting for the medical results but I don't know because they didn't test me. I don't know what, which medical results they are waiting for.

This is bad. I felt heartbroken yesterday. I was ready for this, I worked hard for this. So I feel like sabotaging or something ... I don't know because I don't have the full information about this.

Further to that, Simon O'Brien of Botswana's medical team received a letter from the IAAF detailing a medical examination their doctors did on Makwala. O'Brien disputes the letter's assertion that there were officials from Botswana present. O'Brien said that "He's fit, he's very well, he's prepared to run, and he's just being kept away by the IAAF".

And on top of all of that, Botswana Olympic Committee CEO Sedimo told BBC Sport that "there has been no official communication, no formal communication from the IAAF at all. We found out from the media that he could not take part and he is heartbroken. There have been no medical tests at all, it's just generalised assumptions because of the outbreak of sickness and he has just one of those symptoms".

Michael Johnson was part of the BBC's coverage of the saga, and he said that the unspooling of events left the IAAF open to various conspiracy theories as he slammed the IAAF's handling of the whole thing.

The IAAF may soon realise they have got this horribly wrong as to why they have chosen to disqualify him.

Does this apply to other athletes? If you collapse you are okay but if you vomit you aren’t okay?

Has he been advised not to be around other athletes? There is a lot of inconsistency here.

And then of course, there is the elephant in the room — Wayde van Niekerk is an IAAF favourite and now his only challenger has been pulled out of both the 200m and 400m? The conspiracy theories will come out of the silence.

Van Niekerk did indeed go on to win gold, clocking 43.98 seconds. Steven Gardiner claimed silver and Abdalelah Haroun bronze.


Who Is 800 Man Kyle Langford?

Started running six years ago and was ranked 46th in the world entering the championships.

Kyle Langford finished fourth in Tuesday night’s 800 metres at the London 2017 World Championships. But who is he?

Age: 21 (born February 2, 1996)

From: Watford. He grew up on the Meriden Estate which was also home to heavyweight boxing world champion Anthony Joshua.

Athletics history: Started running six years ago. He won the English Schools 800m title in 2012. He claimed bronze at the IAAF Youth World Championships in 2013 and gold at the European Junior Championships in 2015.

Pre-London 2017: He was ranked 46th in the world entering the championships with a personal best of one minute 45.78 seconds.

London 2017 performance: Finished fourth in Tuesday night’s 800m final in a personal best of 1min 45.25secs.

Fun fact: His parents, Donald and Karen, run the Meriden Fish Bar, a fish and chip shop, in Watford. They had offered free chips with fish if he got a medal. 0.04secs saved them a lot of potato peeling.

He says: “It was a scrappy race but perhaps I left it too late but I won’t be making the same mistake come Tokyo, I can promise you I’ll be getting that gold. Hopefully in the years to come you’ll see me taking over from Mo Farah,” – Langford was bullish following his first world final.

They say: “This week has been great for him. And for us. He’s far better at running than peeling potatoes,” – Mum Karen told the Daily Mail on Monday.

When Langford may next be on the big stage: The 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast in February and August’s European Championships in Berlin will be a chance for Langford to build major championship pedigree.


Bosse hopes for luck in love after 800m gamble pays big

Pierre-Ambroise Bosse loves gambling and on Tuesday he rolled the dice and won the biggest prize of his life, the 800 metres world title, to give France their first ever gold in the event. The 25-year-old, who had finished a fourth in last year's Olympic final, seized the initiative with 150 metres to go with a stunning burst passing Kipyegon Bett and race favourite Nijel Amos and held on to take the tape first from fast-finishing Pole Adam Kszczot. "I am a gambler, I love going to the casino," said Bosse. "And today I just gambled, I put everything on the red, even my last Euro. So hopefully, this is also for luck in love."


Botswana's Makwala barred from entering stadium

LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Botswana's Isaac Makwala was refused entry to the London Stadium on Tuesday after earlier being withdrawn from the night's 400 metres final at the World Championships after falling victim to an outbreak of sickness that has hit scores of competitors.

The 30-year-old, who was considered one of the main challengers to gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk and is a national icon, had also been ordered to withdraw from Monday's opening round of the 200m.

Makwala said he felt well and wanted to race but when he attempted to go through the athletes' entrance, an official and security personnel barred his way.

"I arrived at the stadium today ready to run but I found a trap set there ... and was denied entrance (Government order by the way not IAAF)," he said later in a message to his fans on Facebook.

"We fought all day for the truth to come out ... I still maintain I am not sick and have never been tested by any doctor ... I shall rise again. It is well."

The IAAF issued two statements on Tuesday, the first saying Makwala had been withdrawn due to a "medical condition" on the instruction of the "IAAF Medical Delegate".

The head of Botswana's athletics federation, Falcon Sedimo, told the BBC that there had been no communication from the IAAF and that Makwala had not undergone any medical tests.

"It's just generalised assumptions because of the outbreak of sickness and he has just one of those symptoms," he said.

"There has been ... no formal communication from the IAAF at all. We found out from the media that he could not take part and he is heartbroken."

In the second statement, the IAAF said Makwala had been diagnosed with an "infectious disease" following an examination by a doctor in the warm-up medical centre on Monday and said the Botswana team had been informed.

"The team doctor, team leader and team physio had been informed following the medical examination that the athlete should be quarantined for 48 hours and would therefore be missing the 400m final on Tuesday," it said.

"The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes."

South African Van Niekerk retained his world title in dominant fashion, storming to victory in 43.98 seconds.

FELT FIT

Makwala had told the BBC earlier on Tuesday that he had felt fit to race both in the 200m heats on Monday and the 400m final.

"I was not that sick," he said. "I just vomited. Like any other athlete, I vomit ... I could have run because I did my warm-up well and I did everything well. I was ready to run."

He added that he was "heartbroken" on Monday when he was pulled from the 200 and had been left in the dark about the reasons for his withdrawal.

"I was ready for this, I worked hard for this," he added "So I feel like sabotaging or something ... I don't know because I don't have the full information about this."

He did not specify in what way he felt he had been sabotaged and the IAAF did not respond specifically to Makwala's comments when contacted by Reuters.

The IAAF said it had been working with Public Health England to contain the outbreak of sickness and had issued guidelines to teams and their doctors.

Several Botswana, German, Canadian, Irish and Puerto Rican athletes have taken ill over the last few days, with some quarantined and others forced to miss their events.

Competition organisers said on Monday that the illnesses were a result of gastroenteritis, but public health officials said on Tuesday that laboratory tests had confirmed two cases of norovirus among approximately 30 victims.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry; writing by Brian Homewood, additonal reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Toby Davis, Ed Osmond and Peter Rutherford)


IAAF World Championships in London: Day 6 highlights

London (AFP) - Day six highlights for the IAAF World Championships on Wednesday:

Men's 5000 metres heats

Mo Farah may have emerged battered and bruised from his superb victory in the 10,000 metres but he will be intent on not seeing his farewell to track championships go awry in an event in which he has won the last five global titles (three world and two Olympics). The 34-year-old should have a routine qualification ahead of Saturday's grand finale but at least his presence will boost the morale of the home spectators who unlike London 2012 have had precious little to cheer about despite packing the stadium night after night.

Women's 400 metres final

This could be one of the races of the championships as it has everything in a potboiler of a plot. American track legend Allyson Felix is bidding for a 10th world gold medal (4 individual gold, 5 relay) but standing in her way is the Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo. The 31-year-old American may have beaten her younger rival in the 2015 world final but the latter got her revenge in the biggest arena of the Olympic final last year and in the most dramatic fashion, stealing the title from under her nose with a spectacular dive for the line and getting the nod by 0.07 of a second. The third major final meeting between the duo promises fireworks.

Men's 400 metres hurdles final

Kerron Clement, like Felix, has been a stalwart of American athletics for over a decade and the Trinidad-born star will be seeking his third individual world title here. The 31-year-old Olympic champion looked in sublime form in his semi-final, allowing Norwegian youngster Karsten Warholm to hare off in the lead before reeling him in in the finishing straight. "I keep pulling it out this season," said Clement. "I trust my strength and I know I am the best off that last hurdle." Warholm -- if he keeps his head -- and another American TJ Holmes could be Clement's greatest threats

Women's Shot Put final

After claiming six major silver or bronze medals since the 2008 Olympic Games, China's Gong Lijiao has a major opportunity to claim a maiden title. The 28-year-old has won three Diamond League meets this season and with reigning champion Christina Schwanitz and four-time champion Valerie Adams both absent this season, Gong surely won't have too many better chances to add a global title to her resume.

Men's 200m Semi-Finals

Wayde van Niekerk faces a sharp turnaround after defending his 400m title in style. The South African ran a blistering final bend to put the race out of reach and with neither Usain Bolt nor Botswanan Isaac Makwala in contention in the 200m, the 25-year-old looks a good bet for a rare double should he safely negotiate the semi-final.


One-lap wonder Van Niekerk targets Johnson double

London (AFP) - Wayde van Niekerk's bid for a first world double since 1995 now turns to the 200m after he stormed to a comfortable victory in the 400m.

After initially struggling with the cold, the 25-year-old ran a solid final bend to blast to victory in 43.98 seconds with a lot to spare, and went straight into recovery ahead of Wednesday's 200m semi-finals, with the final on Thursday.

"It was quite freezing and I struggled to get myself warmed up and ready," said Van Niekerk, who came into the 400m as defending world and Olympic champion.

"I was doubting my momentum. In the last 150 metres I tried putting in an extra gear, but I couldn’t catch my stride until my last few metres. I just allowed the race to go through to the finish line."

Thoughts will turn straight to the 200m, and a rare double.

The last athlete to claim the 200/400m double was American Michael Johnson, who achieved the feat the 1995 worlds in Gothenburg, repeating the achievement a year later in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

"It's easier said than done," said Van Niekerk, who smashed Johnson's 400m world record when winning gold in Rio and then his rarely-run 300m record in Ostrava last month.

"It's competition, it's very unpredictable.

"My body still feels very good. It took me a while to recover.

"But from endurance I go straight to speed... It's a day-by-day, step-by-step process for us athletes."

- New challenges -

Van Niekerk reiterated that every season threw up new challenges.

"I know it’s never going to be a walk in the park," he said. "I'm just so grateful to say I came through with a gold medal.

"Every year has its new challenges, and every year it gets tough. I don't think it ever became easier. Right after Rio I found out I had a back injury, and this entire season I have been struggling to find fitness, but at the same time my times have been getting better, especially in the short sprints."

Van Niekerk, the first athlete to break 10 seconds over 100m, 20sec over 200m and 44sec over 400m, added he was delighted his coach Anna "Tannie Ans" Botha would also receive a medal as part of a championships initiative to reward coaches.

"Everyone knows the superstar coach I have," he said of the 74-year-old great-grandmother who oversees the hottest property in world athletics.

"It's actually a massive honour for me to be able to reach these great heights with her.

"She has had to wait a long time – with the third gold, she gets to take one home with her too. Unfortunately my two previous medals had to go to Mum as she said 'Everything achieved at home has to stay here'. So I am glad to be able to take this one home myself!"


100 Champ Bowie Pulls Out Of The 200

World 100 metres champion Tori Bowie abandoned her bid to add the 200 metres gold when she withdrew from the heats of the longer event at the World Championships on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old American had suffered cuts and bruises in winning the 100 metres title after tumbling headlong on to the track following her dip to claim victory.

She could have joined Katrin Krabbe and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as the only women to have completed the 100/200m double in the same championships but had admitted to feeling "beaten up" after her fall.


Farah Sees Cheptegei As Big Rival In The 5000

• ‘The new, raw athletes are scary,’ says Briton before Wednesday’s heats 
• Farah would be surprised if team-mate Andy Butchart won a medal

Mo Farah believes his big-race experience will carry his battered and bloodied body to yet another world title in the 5,000m – but admits he will again be looking over his shoulder at the brilliant young Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, who ran him so close in Friday’s 10,000m final.

Farah, who runs in the heats of the 5,000m on Wednesday night before Saturday’s final, is still nursing the after-effects of a choppy 10,000m final during which he tripped twice, spiked, and suffered a bruised knee. However, he has taken a leaf out of his 2012 London Olympics playbook by recovering in a cyro-sauna, which uses nitrogen to lower his skin surface temperature, as well as ensuring he does nothing more strenuous than play regular games of Fifa on the British team’s PlayStation.

“Experience is everything,” said Farah. “If you’ve been in a situation before and done it then it’s easier to deal with and that will help me massively.

“It’s like when I had a chance to live with the Kenyans. That’s what really changed me as an athlete. You see them and you tell yourself: ‘If what I am doing is not right and what they’re doing is right, how are you going to beat them?’”

On paper, Farah’s biggest challenge looks likely to come from the Ethiopian Muktar Edris and his 17-year-old compatriot Selemon Barega, who have run the two fastest times in the world this year. Farah, though, believes that the 20-year-old Cheptegei, who has run the third quickest 5,000m in 2017, is the man to beat again. “Cheptegei is strong,” he says. “He’s the one coming through.” But, with a clear nod to Barega as well, he added: “It’s all the new ones that are a bit more scary to race because they are raw. They don’t know what they are doing. They just go for it.”

But he warned his rivals that, just as in the 10,000m final, he would not back down. “A lot of times people say you are nice and try to take advantage,” he admitted. “But you have to be ruthless on the track and off it sometimes.”

Farah also expressed admiration for his team-mate Andy Butchart, who finished sixth at last year’s Olympics, but said it would be a surprise if he won a medal. “It is going to be tough for him, but if the race is run how it suits him then he has a chance,” he added. “We have a lot of guys who believe in themselves now and he is one of them. He will give you 110%, come out on the line and he is going to try his best. But the years of experience I’ve had tells me it’s going to be difficult for him to get a medal.”


Kendricks wins pole vault, Lavillenie frustrated again

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - American Sam Kendricks capped his memorable, unbeaten season by wining the pole vault at the World Championships on Tuesday as the title once again eluded world record holder and former Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie.

Kendricks, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army reserve, cleared 5.95 metres while Poland's Piotr Lisek took the silver and Lavillenie had to be content with a fourth world bronze despite producing his best leap of the season.

Lisek, joint bronze medallist in Beijing two years ago, and Frenchman Lavillenie, who also won silver in 2013, both cleared 5.89 but the Pole took silver on countback.

Olympic champions Fabio Braz pulled out last month due to form and fitness problems.

Kendricks, unbeaten in 2017 after 10 competitions outdoors and one indoors, was again in imperious form as he moved through the first five heights without a failure.

The 24-year-old, who barely picked his pole for five months during the autumn and winter while on active duty, failed his first two attempts at 5.95 before clearing the third to a huge roar.

"It is all part of a mission for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it attainable. I've finally got that world title and I could not be happier," Kendricks said.

"It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold."

Lisek had two failures at 5.65 and another at 5.82 before deciding to move to 5.89 which he cleared at the first attempt but the next height proved a bridge too far.

Lavillenie, unable to start training until May because of a foot injury, has been short of confidence and form all season and has failed to register a win in five appearances on the Diamond League circuit.

He had one failure and skipped two rounds before reaching 5.95 metres where he was agonisingly close on his second attempt, clearing the bar but nudging it on the way down.

Lavillenie then opted to move to 6.01 where his challenge ended.

Titleholder Shawn Barber of Canada struggled all evening and never looked in contention.

He had one failure at the lowest height of 5.50 and only just avoided elimination at 5.65 which he cleared at the third attempt despite clipping the bar, before going out at 5.75.

Germany's Raphael Holzdeppe, who won the title four years ago in Moscow, fared even worse as he was eliminated in the very first round at 5.50.

Belgian's Arnaud Art made an unfortunate exit at the first height, falling on his third attempt after his hands slipped from the pole. (Editing by Ed Osmond)


Van Niekerk defends world 400m title

- South African Wayde van Niekerk got his bid for an audacious 200/400m double off to a flying start when he defended his one-lap title. Van Niekerk, who also set the world record when winning Olympic gold in Rio last year, was in imperious form, running a devastating final bend to finish in 43.98 seconds, easing up a full 15 metres from the line. Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas claimed silver in 44.41sec, with Sudan-born Qatari Abdalelah Haroun taking bronze (44.48).


Jenny Simpson Savors Another Silver (Video)

She kicked past two runners in the final 100 meters to win her third medal at a world championships.

In what was one of the greatest women’s 1500-meter fields ever assembled, Jenny Simpson claimed a third world championships medal in London tonight, the 30-year-old American unleashing her trademark finishing kick to finish a superb second in 4:02.76.

With a field of intimidating quality in opposition—including Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya, Olympic 1500-meter champion Faith Kipyegon, and world No. 1 Sifan Hassan—Simpson ranked as an underdog for a medal, but she toed the line with remarkable confidence.

“I said to myself: You have to be a mountain, you have to be unshakeable, because everybody here is fit, everyone is in good shape, so what’s going to make the difference is who is the most confident,” Simpson said. “You’d be surprised how confident I am in myself. I really believed I could do it.”

The early pace was slow, with British heroine Laura Muir taking the field through 800 meters in 2:17.11. But with 600 meters to run, Hassan sprinted to the front, which set off a chain reaction in the pack.

Simpson assumed pole position behind Hassan and Kipyegon, who hit full throttle out front with 300 meters left, leaving Simpson to battle with Muir and Semenya for the minor medals. While Kipyegon came home strongly to win in 4:02.59, Simpson had to summon all her courage in the home stretch to overtake Hassan, edge past Muir, and hold off the late charge of Semenya to take silver.

“I went down the stretch and thought: Just run your guts out, run the hardest you’ve ever run in your life [even if] you black out,” Simpson said.

The moments after the finish were just as nerve-wracking as the start line, with Simpson unsure if she had won a medal and gazing up at the big screen to see her fate. When her name flashed up in second, she erupted in celebration.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “I had a slow start to the season but my coaches really prepared me to be ready late in the season and it paid off. I wanted to win tonight, but I look back and get to say I’m lucky. I’m really proud of it.”

Simpson, the 1500-meter world champion in 2011, the silver medalist at the world championships in 2013, and the Olympic bronze medalist last year, had defeated not just the local favorite in Muir, the world’s best half-miler in Semenya, or the fastest athlete this season in Hassan, but also the controversial figure of Genzebe Dibaba, the 1500-meter world record holder whose coach, Jama Aden, is awaiting trial in Spain after being implicated in a doping scandal.

Afterward Simpson was adamant her performance showed it was possible to win clean.

“I want a clean sport so it feels amazing to come out and beat people [under suspicion],” she said. “If I’m second in this race, you beat cheaters because there’s not zero cheaters in the race or the world. But they’re not all stealing my moment. I’m so lucky I get to have those moments on the podium.”


Gatlin: "Athlete Of His Time, Not A Villain"

The sprinter Justin Gatlin is a tailor-made stand-in for the doping ills of track and field.

He served a four-year suspension after testing positive for steroids. He came back and continues to run fiercely in his 35th year, laying down the fastest times ever for a runner his age. Last weekend, in London, he spoiled the retirement run of the great Olympic champion Usain Bolt, whom some writers revere as the symbol of a clean sport. Gatlin ran 9.92 seconds in the 100 meters on Saturday night at the world championships, and took the gold medal. Bolt settled for the bronze.

Fans showered Gatlin with boos; British sportswriters waxed righteous about their pantomime villain (“Gatlin is a shameless fraud” was one of the milder takes); and Sebastian Coe, president of track and field’s international governing body, was beside himself for having to award a medal to Gatlin.

“I’m not eulogistic at the thought of somebody who has served two bans in our sport walking off with one of the biggest prizes,” Coe said.

This narrative is fractured and self-righteous. Gatlin has sinned, but the outrage, particularly from those who know better, edges toward the absurd.

Let’s start with what is, by now, the standard indictment: Gatlin is a “two-time drug cheat,” with “unrepentant” added as the adjectival chaser.

This is inaccurate. His first offense was no offense at all.

In the summer of 2001, after his freshman year at the University of Tennessee, Gatlin tested positive for a very small trace of amphetamine after running as an amateur in an event sponsored by USA Track & Field. Amphetamines are ingredients in Adderall, for which Gatlin has carried a prescription since he was 7 years old and learned he had an attention deficit disorder. He took Adderall while preparing for summer midterms three days before the race.

His decision was consistent with N.C.A.A. rules and guidance given to professional athletes. Nonetheless, Coe’s organization, the International Association of Athletics Federations, handed down a two-year ban. Gatlin appealed and got the suspension cut to a year. The grand executioners in the press corps might want to page to the decision’s conclusion:

“Mr. Gatlin neither cheated nor intended to cheat,” the appeals panel wrote. “He is certainly not a doper.”

So Gatlin is a one-time doper. In 2006, he tested positive for a steroid and was suspended for eight years, a sentence reduced to four years after he cooperated with federal investigators. He would lose four peak years and millions of dollars in earnings, a considerably tougher penalty than those meted out to athletes in pro baseball, basketball or football. (World soccer has adopted the Olympic Code and consequently levies tough penalties).

That seems a suitably stiff sentence for a first offense.

Let me now back off a step or three and interrogate my own righteousness.

A month ago, I talked with the American high jumper Chaunté Lowe about the moment last November when she learned she had won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. The international antidoping agency, taking advantage of technological advances, retested the blood of three jumpers (two Russians and a Ukrainian) who finished ahead of her at those Games. It disqualified all three. Lowe learned of this by Facebook and felt caught between elation and sorrow, aware of opportunities lost, not least that joyous moment atop a podium.

A year ago, I sat atop a mountain outside Oslo and heard two top American biathletes, Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey, talk about the frustration of competing to their lung-straining best and suspecting that some of the athletes a few paces ahead of them might have a chemical advantage.

These athletes work too hard to think we can just slap them on the back and murmur que será, será. They enjoy precious few years at their peak. Several of them told me they would like to see career suspensions for first doping offenses.

There is, too, the peculiar challenge presented when nations or Olympic committees cover their eyes, with all the advantages and subterfuge that implies. The United States Olympic Committee, for many years in the 1980s, enabled a pervasive doping problem. Its leaders knew that American swimmers, runners and jumpers were doping with the complicity of top Olympic coaches.

The United States has cracked down hard. But Russia has taken on the mantle and gone far beyond, running a state-sponsored doping program with a thuggish insistence that gives its athletes and coaches little choice. This represents an existential threat to clean sport.

I called Max Cobb, the president of U.S. Biathlon and an insistent reformer, and asked about the question of appropriate penalties for athletes like Gatlin. He is not by temperament the sort who favors blanket lifetime suspensions, and he sees considerable mitigating factors in Gatlin’s case. He also sees a place for lifetime bans as a threat.

“If you are engaged in systematic blood manipulation, you are deliberately trying to cheat the system,” Cobb noted. “It cannot be an accident, and that’s where the option of a lifetime ban would really help.”

Track and field’s reputation as irreparably tarnished by doping may be unfair and owe paradoxically to its growing ability to ferret out offenders. The doping era may have reached its body-distorting peak at the turn of this century, when athletes from many nations imbibed all sorts of steroids. Olympians break records with less regularity now; some women’s records set in that period have stood for decades. Scientists speculate that cheating athletes now take smaller doses to avoid detection.

As for Bolt and Gatlin, too many reporters and fans remain invested in fairy-tale dichotomies. Bolt is a glorious runner and a joyous showman for the ages, and he has passed every drug test without a glitch. So writers fit him for a crown as the king of clean sport.

What, however, explains the urgency in fitting Gatlin for the crown of thorns? Gatlin is an athlete of his time and place. He finished third in the 100 meters at the 2012 London Olympics. Five of the eight men who ran that day have served doping bans. There were runners in London last weekend who had served doping suspensions and returned to competition.

Track and field offers a complicated world.

Coe’s rhetoric is steely, and he has accomplished some good since becoming chief of the international federation. He was also forced to acknowledge in 2015 that Nike had paid him $150,000 annually to serve as a company “ambassador.” French prosecutors are examining whether anyone bribed top international track officials to steer the 2021 world championships to Eugene, Ore.

Shadows, too, have fallen across the sporting goods companies, which wield great influence over the sport. Nike, its pre-eminent power, runs a top track program out of its facilities in Oregon, and its coach Alberto Salazar has faced repeated reports suggesting his approach is tainted by chemicals.

My intention here is not to throw up a cloud and allow Gatlin to slip untouched off the stage. His athletic history is a cross of his making. After a four-year absence, he returned overweight and slow, turning in embarrassing times in places like Finland.

He found a new coach, who had himself once tested positive, and dismantled and reworked his form. He began to explode out of the blocks with surgical precision. By 2015, he was laying down eyebrow-raising times, peaking at 9.74. That led even sober analysts like Ross Tucker, whose website Science of Sport is much respected, to wonder aloud if he was doping again, or had ever stopped.

That moment likely has passed.

The championship race in London was an old man’s affair. Gatlin won with a 9.92. Had he run that time at the world championships in Beijing in 2015, he would have finished far behind Bolt. He is tested randomly by the United States Anti-Doping Agency; screeners checked his blood four times and his urine 10 times last year before the Olympics.

He passed all of those.

Age is the runner that will track Gatlin to earth. When I saw him in Oregon in May, he acknowledged mental fatigue and hamstrings and thighs that growl like old hounds.

He is a personable man; he is flawed. There’s no need to turn him into a hero. But the villain stuff plays like the cheap tricks adults use to distract from bigger problems.


Britain's WC Woes Based On "Mentality"?

British athletes are underperforming at the World Championships because of issues with their mentality, says ex-Olympic champion Darren Campbell.

UK Sport's target is between six and eight medals but, after five days of competition, Britain have one - Mo Farah's gold in Friday's 10,000m.

While Campbell believes there is "hope" for the future, he told BBC Radio 5 live: "Clearly there's something wrong.

"We can't pretend it's not happening. If medals are not won, funding is cut."

On Monday, Britain's Laura Muir just missed out on a medal by finishing fourth in the 1500m, while Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon was seventh in the hammer throw.

The previous day, Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished fifth in the heptathlon, Holly Bradshaw was sixth in the pole vault and Andrew Pozzi failed to qualify for the final of the 110m hurdles.

"I am the last British sprinter to win an individual global medal, at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, but the talent we have is better than that," said Campbell.

"The problem we have is the mental side of things."

Many high-profile athletes missed the British trials in July, which formed part of the selection process for the World Championships in London.

Campbell said: "We were told that the top athletes who weren't there were being rested for the Worlds. Well now we're here, where are they producing what we were told they would?"

Campbell, who won 4x100m gold in Athens in 2004, said the experience of former athletes such as Brendan Foster, now a BBC commentator, should be utilised.

"You've got Brendan up here, in five minutes you can see his experience. We're not tapping into that? Wow."

'A reminder that sport is brutal'

UK Sport funding is already set for the Olympic cycle up to 2020 - with athletics the second-highest Olympic recipient behind rowing.

When the funding was announced in December, UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said the decision to cut funding from several sports was "based on a judgement of potential number of medals".

"With only one medal at the halfway stage, it's not going to plan," former Olympic javelin thrower Steve Backley told BBC Sport. "That is the simple message.

"There have been some marginal performances that went the wrong way. With medal hopes like Hitchon, Muir, Bradshaw, Johnson-Thompson, we could have had three or four medals in the bag by now.

"But sport is brutal, and this is a reminder of how tough it is out there. There aren't that many more chances left."


Will Usain Bolt win his final career race?

Your last chance to watch Usain Bolt race is very likely Saturday.

Bolt, one week after being upset in the world championships 100m final, is expected to anchor the Jamaican 4x100m relay team during NBC’s live coverage from London from 3-5 p.m. ET.

Bolt and the Jamaicans crossed the finish line first in all seven Olympic and world championships relays dating to the 2008 Beijing Games.

However, the island nation is losing its sprint dominance. Not only was Bolt relegated to 100m bronze by Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, but Jamaica also lacks depth.

Former relay stalwarts Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter have aged and didn’t make the world team. Yohan Blake, the primary global rival to Bolt in 2011 and 2012, was a respectable fourth in the 100m last Saturday, but the Jamaicans are lacking depth.

Like in the 100m, the U.S. could spoil Bolt’s farewell party yet again in the relay.

Add up the 100m times from Gatlin, Coleman and U.S. bronze medalist Christopher Belcher, and the Americans were a net .01 faster than the Jamaican trio of Bolt, Blake and Julian Forte last Saturday.

The key will be clean baton handoffs. The Americans have botched the relay consistently, missing the podium due to bad exchanges or disqualifications at five of the last six global championships.

Jamaica is much cleaner passing the stick, plus it has the biggest intangible in its favor: Bolt on anchor, which could intimidate whoever is running the last leg for the Americans if it’s a close race.


Tori Bowie follows her instincts to 100-meter gold at worlds

LONDON -- Lying on the track, shoulder and hip burning from her fall after crossing the 100-meter finish line, Tori Bowie had no idea what to expect.

"I was just trying to get to the finish line," Bowie said. "I knew I was in the mix, I knew I was in the top three. I didn't know if I had won or not."

The 26-year-old American used a furious charge over the final 20 meters to close in on the frontrunner, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast. Bowie leaned so hard at the tape, she tumbled forward, ripping the skin off her shoulder and bruising several other parts of her body.

When Bowie stood up, the winner still had not been announced. When the scoreboard flashed her name in first place at 10.85 seconds, .01 ahead of Ta Lou, the moment knocked her back down.

The fastest woman in the world lay on her back and covered her face with her hands. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this just happened. This is the greatest night of my life,'" Bowie said.

Bowie is a slender, shy country girl from rural Sand Hill, Mississippi. At several points during interviews after Sunday's race, she was overwhelmed by emotion and took some time to compose herself. But there is steely determination beneath her reticence, which fueled her devastating late-race charge.

"I don't know where the finishing comes from. I guess, just hungry -- a determined, motivated moment," she said. "It just comes from instinct, from wanting it so bad."

The favorite Sunday was Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who won the 100 and 200 in Rio, the first woman to complete that double since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. On Sunday, Thompson stumbled slightly when Bowie passed her halfway down the track. She finished fifth in 10.98, well off her season best of 10.71. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands finished third in 10.96.

"Honestly, I don't know what happened," Thompson said. "I came out here with a brave heart and a strong mind. It didn't go as I planned, but you have to give those other girls a lot of credit."

Last year at the Rio Olympics, Bowie used another closing burst to move from fourth place to second, losing by a step to Thompson. On Sunday, Ta Lou led the entire race from Lane 4, and had no idea Bowie was bearing down on her from Lane 7. Ta Lou did not lean at the tape, and looked to her left with a shocked expression as Bowie flashed past.

"I didn't see her coming," Ta Lou said. "But it's OK, I have a medal."

Bowie, though, has the gold. She specialized in the long jump at the University of Southern Mississippi, and many consider the 200 to be her best event. Yet she insisted on focusing on the 100 in London.

"I'm probably the only person in the world who thought I could come out here and win the 100 meters tonight," Bowie said. "I learned a lot from tonight. I learned to always follow your heart."


"Mr. Silk" Omar McLeod Brings Joy To Jamaica

LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - As Usain Bolt takes his leave of athletics and the desperate hunt grows to find charismatic new trailblazers for the sport, another young Jamaican, Omar McLeod, demonstrated in winning the 110 metres hurdles title on Monday why he may fit the bill.

He's young, cool, bright, very fast and likes to style himself as "Mr Silk" with the smooth hurdling technique.

After a weekend where it was all doom and gloom back home after the 100 metres losses of Bolt and Elaine Thompson, 23-year-old Mcleod chose the perfect night to bound headlong to world championship glory and cheer his nation.

"Happy Independence Day, Jamaica! I love you guys!" he declared with a laugh, recognising that everyone was watching him on the island's public holiday as he became the first man since American Allen Johnson in 1997 to pull off the Olympics/World Championships 110m hurdles double in successive years.

"I'm elated, completely overcome with emotion and I especially wanted to dedicate this win to Usain. I felt it was up to me out there to bring the boost back to Jamaica and I think I've done that."

Yet while he saluted his peerless hero Bolt, who was only able to win bronze in his final individual 100m, he also looked and sounded every inch the sort of talismanic figure who could ensure swiftly that Jamaica has a new male superstar to savour.

For after comfortably defeating what he considered the best 110m hurdles field in history in 13.04 seconds, the U.S.-based speedster made it clear that he felt this was just the beginning of something even more spectacular.

NEW WORLDS

Nobody is suggesting that Bolt is anything but irreplaceable but here is an athlete who actually has strings to his bow that even the great Usain never had.

For not only is he already the only man ever to have run under 10 seconds for 100 metres and under 13 seconds for the 110m hurdles, he can also spread his talent across events as varied as the 400m hurdles and the 200m.

Next year, he declared after his victory, would be the time to see him spread his wings.

"I've got new worlds to conquer now," he beamed. "I really, really want that world record now so we'll see what happens next."

The man who holds the 12.80 seconds mark that he is after, American Aries Merritt, could only finish fifth in the final and the future of the event now lies in McLeod's quicksilver feet.

He is the only top high hurdler still taking eight steps to reach the first hurdle and, though he was planning to move down to seven this season, he put that plan back to next year to ensure he did not mess with his world championships ambitions.

Next year, though, he will definitely experiment.

"It was probably the best line up in history tonight. I knew in order to win I had to do it the Omar McLeod way," he said.

"I had to bring my own spark back. I had to get out and take control of the race. And just go out and have fun. And I did that."

There was, he said, a special reason to deliver. "My mum is here, so I had to do it for her," he said, after having given her a big hug at trackside. McLeod looks to be a breath of fresh air for the sport. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Ken Ferris)


Laura Muir refuses to enter Caster Semenya debate after heartbreak

• Briton pipped to 1500m bronze by Olympic 800m champion 
• London organisers close hotel floor over gastroenteritis outbreak

Laura Muir was close to tears after missing out on a world championship 1500m medal by seven hundredths of a second to South Africa’s Caster Semenya.

Muir had led for much of the race but ran out of gas down the home straight and was beaten to bronze by Semenya, the Olympic 800m champion. South Africa’s Semenya later attempted to shut down debate over hyperandrogenism, the medical condition she has which is characterised by excessive levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone.

Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, is putting together a case to convince the court of arbitration for sport that Semenya’s condition gives her an unfair advantage over her rivals. Semenya could be forced to undergo hormone replacement therapy or face being unable to compete in the future.

“I really don’t have time for nonsense,” she said. “I do not think about something that might happen in eight months. I don’t focus on the IAAF. It’s not my business. My business is to train hard and see what I come up with in competition.”

Muir refused to be drawn into the complex debate round Semenya’s participation in these championships. “I’ve not got anything to say about that,” she said.

The race was won by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon in 4min 02.59sec while experience proved valuable for the 30-year-old American Jenny Simpson who ran an exquisitely judged race to take silver.

London 2017 organisers have ordered a floor in one of the hotels used by competitors to be quarantined after an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, a medal prospect in the 400m, was given medical dispensation to withdraw from the 200m heats after throwing up in the call room.

A number of other athletes staying at the same hotel also have gastroenteritis, including the Ireland 400m hurdler Thomas Barr. “I’m gutted to have to withdraw from the semi-final. My whole year has been focused on the world championships. To not be able to go out and compete for Ireland is beyond disappointing.”

An organisers’ statement read: “Those affected have been supported by both team and local organising committee medical staff. In addition we have been working with Public Health England to ensure the situation is managed and contained.

“As a result, further advice and guidelines have been issued to team doctors and support staff – standard procedure for such an occurrence where a number of teams are occupying championship accommodation.”


Kipyegon wins world 1500m, Semenya bronze

Faith Kipyegon of Kenya added the world title to her Olympic crown after sprinting to victory in the women's 1500m on Monday.

In a fantastic race that erupted on the final lap, Kipyegon held off allcomers down the home straight to clock 4min 02.59sec.

American Jennifer Simpson claimed silver, at 0.17sec, with South Africa's 800m specialist Caster Semenya taking bronze (4:02.90).

Defending world champion Genzebe Dibaba finished 12th and last, more than 4sec off the winning pace.

Laura Muir, one of two Britons in the field led from the off, laying down a 65sec first lap, with Kipyegon a constant companion on her outside shoulder.

Semenya was her usual comfortable self in the middle of the pack, with Dibaba behind her and the Netherlands' world indoor champion Sifan Hassan, who took bronze two years ago in Beijing, bringing up the rear.

They went through 800m in a relatively sedate 2:17 before Hassan moved up the field and kicked, Kipyegon following.

Suddenly the pack split, Hassan and Kipyegon looking to have the battle for top of the podium to themselves.

But it was not to be, at least for the Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman.

Semenya left it late for her attack, eating up the yards from ninth place with 200 metres to run.

As they hit the home stretch, Hassan tied up in dramatic fashion, 2011 world champion Simpson timed her tactically astute race to near perfection and Semenya powered through for bronze on her coattails.

Muir pipped Hassan for fourth, while world record holder Dibaba could muster nothing worthwhile in the sprint finish as she went backwards.


5 Gator Alums Qualify For World Champs Finals

Kerron Clement is into his sixth 400 hurdles final, and Novlene Williams-Mills became the oldest woman in history to make a 400 meters final

LONDON – Five Gators advanced to finals, and incoming freshman sprinter Hakim Sani Brown qualified for the 200 meters semifinals Monday (Aug. 7) night at the IAAF World Championships.

For a second consecutive day, 400-meter hurdlers Kerron Clement (2004-05), the reigning Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion in the event, and TJ Holmes (2015-17), this year's USATF Outdoor Championships bronze medalist, won their respective heats.

Clement, who could become the first man in history to win three 400 hurdles world titles, posted the fastest overall time (48.35 seconds) to qualify for his sixth World Championships final. His six finals are the second-most appearances in meet history.



Jamaican team captain and six-time World Championships medalist Novlene Williams-Mills (2003-04) finished third in her heat, but advanced to the final as the fastest non-automatic qualifier. At age 35, Williams-Mills is the oldest woman in history to make the World Championships 400 meters final. Russia's Tatyana Alekseyeva (33 years, 301 days in 1997) was the oldest prior to Monday. This will be Williams-Mills' sixth final, the most in meet history.

Two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Christian Taylor (2009-11) only needed one attempt to automatically make Thursday's (Aug. 10) triple jump final. Fellow American and reigning two-time Olympic silver medalist Will Claye (2010-11) also qualified for the final, posting the fifth-best jump of the night.

Sani Brown's bid to become the youngest 200 meters finalist in World Championships history continues, as he finished second in his heat and automatically qualified for the semifinals.



Tuesday's events do not feature any Gators. Clement, Holmes, and Williams-Mills all compete in Wednesday (Aug. 9) finals Sani Brown's 200 meters semi is Wednesday as well.

Two-time steeplechase Olympian Genevieve LaCaze (2009-12) and 2015 World Championships long jump silver medalist Shara Proctor (2007-10) begin their respective events Wednesday. Proctor is making her sixth World Championships appearance, trailing only Williams-Mills' seven for the most by a female Gator.


Clement eases into position for third hurdles gold

Olympic champion Kerron Clement put himself in pole position to win a third world title as the American went through the gears before cruising into the final of the 400 metres hurdles at the London Stadium on Monday.
The gifted 31-year-old, who won his first title a decade ago and has made such a revival late in his career that he struck Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro last year, won his opening heat to ensure he was the fastest qualifier in 48.35 seconds.

It had looked briefly off the final bend that the Trinidadian-born Clement might have his work cut out.

Yet he actually timed his run in lane seven with considerable precision to reel in the field, headed by the second automatic qualifier, powerful young Norwegian hope Karsten Warholm, in what was to prove by far the fastest heat.

It left Clement delighted as he seems to have rediscovered his best form at just the right time after an indifferent season, having also won at the London Stadium in last month's Diamond League meeting.

"I trust my strength and I know I am the best off that last hurdle. If anyone is within arm's length of me at the last hurdle, it's a wrap," said Clement, who despite the titles to his name is still seen as a slightly unfulfilled talent.

"I just need to concentrate on the turn because that can be my Achilles heel. I need to make sure that goes smoothly for the final."

Clement's US colleague TJ Holmes won the slowest, faintly shambolic, heat in 49.12 seconds, but did look to have enough in reserve to be a potential threat to his illustrious compatriot in Wednesday's final.

However, American hopes of having a powerful three-pronged assault on gold were thwarted by national champion Eric Futch's poor run on the inside lane in the other heat dominated by two of the sport's growing legion of 'allegiance transferees'.

Heat winner Abderrahaman Samba, who won in 48.75, now runs for Qatar, having switched his allegiance from Mauritania, while Turkey's European champion Yasmani Copello, who eased home just behind him in 48.91, used to run for Cuba.


Stat Blitz: World Championships Day 4

(from K. Ken Nakamura)

Day 4

WTJ

Rojas became 4th TJ to win both World Indoor and World Championships

2cm is the smallest winning margin in the history of WC WTJ; previous min was 4cm in 1997 and 2003

Difference of 35cm between 3rd and 4th is the largest ever in WC WTJ; previously, 18cm in 1995 and 2003 were max

WIth a silver medal tonight, Ibaguen now has a complete set of WC medals at WTJ

Rojas won the first medal of any kind for VEN at WC WTJ

W1500m

Kipyegon also became third (after Liu Dong and Genzebe) runner to win both WOrld and WOrld Junior at W1500m

Kipyegon also became third runner to win both Olympics and WOrld Championships (after Masterkova and Bulmerka) at W1500m

Kipyegon won first gold for KEN at WC W1500m

Difference between 1st and 3rd was 0.31 second, smallest ever for WC W1500m, replacing 0.44sec from 2009

Faith Kipyegon become the first CWG champion to win World Championships at W1500m

Faith Kipyegon become the first World Youth champion to win World Championships at W1500m

110mH

McLeod also became fifth hurdler to win both WC and World Indoor

McLeod won first gold for JAM in 110mH at WC

Baji won first medal for HUN at 110mH in WC

Shubenkov won silver, thus he joined Jackson and Liu as one of the three hurdlers with complete set of medals.

McLeod joined Allen Johnson and Liu as one of the three hurdlers with both Olympic and World Championships gold

WHT

For the first time in the history of WC, a nation (this case POL) won two medals (Wlodarczyk & Kopron) at WHT

77.90 is the British all comers' record improving her own mark, 77.60 from the Olympics

Wlodarczyk won third gold in WC WHT, tying Moreno for the most gold in this event at WC

It is also fourth medal for Wlodarczyk, also tying Moreno with a number of medals in WC WHT


GOLDEN MUM Who is Jessica Ennis-Hill? Olympic heptathlon gold medallist who’s pregnant with a second child – all you need to know

The 31-year-old is one of the most-decorated British sportswomen in history, but has now retired from competition

JESSICA ENNIS-HILL DBE is one of the most decorated British sportswomen in history, having conquered the world as a heptathlete.

As a professional, she has won gold medals in the Olympics, the World Championships, the World Indoor Championships and the European Championships.

However after last year’s Olympics in Rio, she retired from competing, leaving behind a glittering career that brought her vast amounts of success.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 31-year-old…

How old is Jessica Ennis-Hill? What’s her background?

The superstar was born on January 28, 1986 in Sheffield, where she is one of two daughters to father from Jamaica, and a mother from England.

Both her parents had an interest in athletics – her dad was a keen sprinter, whilst her mum preferred the high jump – and they introduced her to the sport as a child taking her to the Don Valley Stadium to watch events.

She ended up joining the City of Sheffield and Dearne Athletic Club aged 11 where she excelled, and attended King Ecgbert School, before graduating from the University of Sheffield with a 2:2 in psychology.

What was Jessica Ennis-Hill’s career record?

In junior competitions, Jessica won two silver medals in the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games, and won in the heptathlon at the 2005 European Athletics Junior Championships.

Her professional career took off when she took home a bronze in the Commonwealth Games in heptathlon in 2006 at Melbourne.

In 2009 she won the gold medal in World Championships, a whopping 238 points ahead of Jennifer Oeser in second, and in 2010 took won the gold in the World Indoor Championships and the European Championships.

In 2011 she won a silver medal in the World Championships, although this has now been upgraded to a gold medal after Tatyana Chernova was proved of being a drugs cheat. She also won at the World Championships in 2015.

After winning a silver medal at the 2012 World Indoor Championships Jessica cemented herself in Great British folklore after picking home the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

However, she couldn’t defend her title in Rio last year as she had to settle for a silver.

When did Jess get married? How many children do they have?

In 2013, Jessica Ennis married Andy Hill in Derbyshire, and announced she would be known as Jessica Ennis-Hill.

She was forced to withdraw from participation in the 2014 Commonwealth Games as she was pregnant with her first child – her son Reggie was born in July 2014.

On March 16 Jess announced she’s pregnant again on Instagram with a photograph of Reggie holding a book entitled “I’m Going to be a Big Brother!”.

She wrote: “Someone’s going to be a big brother ? Another little Ennis-Hill on the way. So happy.”

What does DBE mean?

In 2017, Ennis-Hill was appointed as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

The 31-year-old was awarded the second highest class for her services to athletics in which she has achieved so much success.

What is Jessica doing now?

Since retiring from athletics in October 2016, she has put her focus on spending time with her family after ten years as a professional competitor.

Before announcing that she was pregnant, Jess was rumoured to be in the running to be a contestant in the next series of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing in the autumn.


Damage Control: IAAF Considering A Name Change?

  • Atheltics' governing body contemplating changing its name as part of overhaul
  • Ex-president Lamine Diack was found to have collaborated with drug cheats
  • Organisation has sunk so low that it may need a new name to market the sport
  • They plan on considering all branding issues during this calender year

Athletics' governing body, the IAAF, is considering a name change in an attempt to overhaul its tainted reputation.
The IAAF name was dragged through the mud two years ago when it was revealed disgraced former president Lamine Diack collaborated with Russian drugs cheats.
Current president Lord Coe has repaired some of the damage from Diack’s regime with a reform programme, but the IAAF name has sunk so low that some within the federation believe a fresh title such as World Athletics would help market the sport.

The IAAF will consider all branding issues this year with a possible name change on the agenda, especially as what IAAF stands for is not widely known outside athletics — the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The sport still has to cope with the fall-out from the full disclosure of Diack’s actions, which have yet to reach court. He is currently under house arrest in Paris. There is also an international arrest warrant for his son Papa. He remains a fugitive in his native Senegal, who will not agree to his extradition.
When Diack was arrested in Paris, his son was on the runway in Dakar on a flight bound for Paris. Papa was quickly off the plane and has not risked leaving Senegal since.

It seemed remarkable that Sky could announce a revamped Soccer AM — the breakfast programme will include former Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard — without mentioning the departure of excellent presenter Helen Chamberlain, the original ladette, after 22 years.


But Sky say Chamberlain, whose contract was not renewed, did not want any fanfare.

Athletes are concerned about the number of people who have gained access to the practice track at the London Stadium. 
The area is swarming with agents, team delegates and friends and family, forcing runners to dodge idle spectators crossing the lanes as they warm up.

Olympics president Thomas Bach’s decision to go on holiday after only attending the first weekend of the World Athletics Championships did not break any IOC obligations. 
But his absence was all the more conspicuous because his predecessor Jacques Rogge is staying on a lot longer.

Stadium strikes a chord

The London Stadium is gaining ground on Wembley as the best outdoor music concert venue in the capital. 
Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses and Robbie Williams all played shows there before the championships. 
Promoters like the Stratford base because it has more room for standing on the pitch and large gangways mean concert-goers can get out of the stadium within six minutes.
After the West Ham security nightmare at the start of their tenancy a year ago, the biggest problem for stewards has been keeping order among women of a certain age who had queued all night to be in the front row for Robbie’s show.

Brendan Foster brings an end to a great broadcasting career at the weekend and calling Mo Farah to another triumph on Saturday night would be the perfect send-off. 
Foster targeted the championships in London — and the Farah races in particular — as his TV swansong in the knowledge that there won’t be another athletics occasion as big until Tokyo in 2020, which is in the wrong time zone to attract BBC audience peaks like the 7.5million who watched Farah’s 10,000m win.

It is difficult to see why athletics fans at the championships have been forced to put up with money-saving expert Martin Lewis as their trackside athletics pundit. 
Lewis, who has been doing a similar role at lower-profile British Athletics meetings, is a friend of BA chief executive Niels de Vos. 
In contrast, the stadium commentary, in the hands of athletics expert and experienced broadcaster John Rawling, has been top class.


Sore Bolt To Run In The 4x1 Heats

Usain Bolt will run in the 4x100 metres relay heats for Jamaica on Saturday despite being a bit sore after winning bronze in the 100m final at the weekend, he told Reuters on Monday.

"We'll see, we haven't done any baton changes as yet with the guys, but I feel we are ready," said the 11-time World Championships gold medallist.

"I have talked to Julian Forte (100m semi-finalist) a little bit. I haven't really talked to the youngsters so we'll see when it comes to the baton changes, but I'm always excited to run relays and we see what the guys are prepared and ready to do."

Yohan Blake is the only other experienced member of Jamaica's sprint relay pool to have won medals at the World Championships or Olympics.

"Physically I am alright, there is a little bit of pain, but nothing a massage can't cure, I'm taking it easy," Bolt said of his condition two days after clocking a season's best equalling 9.95 seconds in the 100m final.


Omar McLeod preserves Jamaican glory; U.S. shut out of 110m hurdles

Omar McLeod finally gave Jamaica a gold medal to celebrate at the world track and field championships.

After Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson lost 100m finals, it was McLeod who won the 110m hurdles title in London on Monday night.

The Rio gold medalist prevailed in 13.04 seconds, one tenth ahead of Sergey Shubenkov, who was part of Russia’s exclusion from the 2016 Olympics. Shubenkov, the 2015 World champion, competed as a neutral athlete in London.

Hungary’s Balazs Baji grabbed bronze, while 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt was fifth.

The U.S. failed to earn a world 110m hurdles medal for the first time, one year after failing to earn an Olympic 110m hurdles medal for the first time (excluding the 1980 Moscow Games).

Full worlds results are here.

In other events Monday, Kenyan Faith Kipyegon took gold in the women’s 1500m, .17 ahead of a hard-charging Jenny Simpson. Scrutinized South African Caster Semenya earned bronze with a late surge.

Kipyegon, the Rio gold medalist, became the first Kenyan woman to win a world 1500m title.

Simpson captured her fourth global medal following her 2011 World title, 2013 World silver medal and 2016 Olympic bronze medal.

Semenya, scrutnized after a gender-testing controversy in 2009, made the podium in her first 1500m outside of Africa since 2011. Semenya is an overwhelming favorite in the 800m (final Sunday) after taking Olympic gold in that event.

Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo set up a rematch in Wednesday’s 400m final. Felix topped Miller-Uibo for the 2015 World title, but Miller-Uibo edged Felix in Rio with that famous finish-line dive.

Wayde van Niekerk, looking to join Michael Johnson as the only men to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics or worlds, headlined the qualifiers from the 200m heats.

Van Niekerk races the 400m final Tuesday, the 200m semifinals Wednesday and, if he advances, the 200m final Thursday.

Both the 200m and 400m are lacking superstars. Neither 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt nor 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James is in the 400m final. Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin skipped the 200m this year, and Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse withdrew before worlds with a strained hamstring.

Olympic champion Kerron Clement led the qualifiers into Wednesday’s 400m hurdles final.

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk repeated as world champion in the hammer throw, one year after repeating as Olympic champion. Wlodarczyk, who last lost in June 2014, threw 77.90 meters to win by six feet, but she was 17 feet shy of her world record from last August.


Justin Gatlin: From Despair To Destiny

LONDON — They introduced Justin Gatlin to the Olympic Stadium crowd here Sunday evening, just before they put a gold medal around his neck, before The Star-Spangled Banner played in his honor, and along with some cheers a chorus of boos rang out.

The cheers — great. The boos — this fell somewhere between disappointing and reprehensible. Olympic-style sport is not the English Premier League, the NFL or NBA. It is supposed to be about promoting three key values: friendship, excellence and respect.

Saturday’s men’s 100-meter final immediately became arguably the biggest gold-medal victory in the history of the event. Gatlin defeated the sport’s biggest legend, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. It’s how the race will forever be remembered: who beat Bolt, and in Bolt’s last individual 100? Gatlin. And who, before Saturday, was the last guy ever to beat Bolt? Gatlin, in Rome in 2013.

None of that takes anything away from Bolt. It does, however, catapult Gatlin. The two respect each other, unequivocally.

The sport’s establishment and significant segments of the British media nonetheless remained fixated Sunday on the same tiresome narrative (cue boos): Bolt and Gatlin as a clash of good and evil, even though that narrative holds no factual support.

How about — the truth?

The truth does not care about demonizing a champion for the sake of a grotesque caricature of a narrative. Instead, the truth turns to a real story about a real person who learned to overcome, as all of us must, to succeed. It includes, in measure, acceptance, gratitude, humility and, centrally, love. With love — for each other and what we do — anything is possible.

The truth tells us all how Justin Gatlin went from despair to what destiny had in store for him Saturday night in 9.92 seconds.

On July 4, Gatlin ran a 9.98 for the win in the 100 at a meet in Budapest.

That night, he, along with his longtime coach, Dennis Mitchell, and Dave Pascal, a Cary, N.C.-based chiropractor who focuses on severe neurological injury and whose practice also includes an extensive sports background, piled into a van to drive to Vienna. Pascal’s track roster includes a host of other superb U.S. athletes, including Sunday’s women’s 100 winner, Tori Bowie.

Mitchell was riding shotgun; Pascal in the middle bench of the three rows; Gatlin in the way back, on the driver’s side.

Twenty minutes into a two-and-a-half hour trip, on a pitch-black two-lane road, a truck traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line. Both vehicles were traveling roughly 70 miles per hour. That’s a combined closing speed of 140.

Mitchell saw the crash coming. He knew the truck did not have enough time to get all the way back onto the right side of the road. He slumped back into his seat, resigned to whatever was next.

Bam!

A head-on crash? No. At the last possible moment, the truck, in fact, slid over — just enough.

The driver of the van slowed and then pulled over by the side of the road to assess the damage. The driver’s side mirror — gone. Truck from the paint ran down the side of the van, heaviest just outside the third window, right where Gatlin had been.

Everyone was sick to their stomachs. Everyone called home. Everyone was alive.

No one was seriously hurt.

Two nights later, on July 6, Gatlin ran in one of the sport’s traditional summer highlights, a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

You want mentally tough?

Gatlin won, in 9.96. That was his final tune-up before London.

The cosmos whisper to us. The trick is to listen.

Gatlin, Mitchell and Pascal had of course known each other for years. Now, though — they had this. Pascal’s daughter had years before been in a serious car crash herself. On the side of the road, there was talk about her crash, and how she had survived: “I told this story to Justin,” Pascal recalled Sunday. “He was like — thank you. That helped him.”

“That incident,” Pascal said, “gave us a bond, a commonality, that we will always have.” Indeed, in the moments after Gatlin’s victory Saturday, Pascal managed to find Mitchell: “You could feel the weight come off him. You could literally feel that … someone like Dennis, who has been put through it — to feel it come off, it was really cool.”

Both Mitchell and Gatlin have had encounters with the doping authorities. Accounts in the press typically have done neither any favors, in Mitchell’s case tending to downplay his testimony for the government in the BALCO matter and in Gatlin’s this vital detail: he never intended to cheat:

Gatlin’s first positive test was for Adderall, which he assuredly was not hiding, in 2001. His second, in 2006, was for testosterone; how it got into his system remains entirely unclear, according to a voluminous record on file in federal court in Florida.

To call for lifetime bans for doping offenses, as some did here Sunday, ignores the World Anti-Doping Code rules that since 2015 include assessments of intent and proportionality. Ask Gil Roberts, who won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 4×400 relay team last year in Rio; on July 10, an arbiter ruled he had ingested the masking agent probenecid unknowingly by “frequently and passionately” kissing his girlfriend just hours before a March 24 test; she had swallowed sinus medication powder; this was thus not a case of intentional doping.

In the doping arena, facts, rules and process matter.

During the four years he was ordered to take off, 2006 to 2010, one of the things Gatlin did was train 8-year-olds in Atlanta. It is a long way from training 8-year-olds to defeating Usain Bolt on the world stage.

“It takes a special person to endure all this,” Gatlin’s longtime agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, said Sunday.

Asked if during those long four years he ever envisioned a moment like Saturday night, Gatlin paused and said, “I would just say — no.”

At first, Nehemiah said, it was enough for Gatlin just to get back onto the track with an eye toward being competitive:

“He loves what he does. For him, it is not about money or fame. This is his safe haven — the track.”

After connecting with Mitchell, Gatlin worked his way back to bronze in the 100 here in 2012 in London, behind Bolt of course.

Then at the 2013 worlds, silver, again behind Bolt.

The 100 at the 2015 worlds in Beijing should have been Gatlin’s race.

He came in on a hot streak — including a 9.74 that May at a race in Doha, Qatar.

That Beijing 100, however, went Bolt’s way, by one-hundredth of a second, Bolt crossing in 9.79, Gatlin breaking form about five meters from the line and finishing in 9.8.

In Beijing, the good vs. evil theme got big play.

That race in Beijing, Gatlin reflected Sunday: “That was a hard loss.” Physically, he said, he was ready. But: “Emotionally, I wasn’t there. Mentally, I wasn’t there. That’s what stopped me from winning. Emotionally and mentally, I wasn’t connected.”

That is, he said, he was running perhaps too selfishly — he wasn’t feeling part of something bigger, at least enough to make a difference.

Last year, in Rio, Gatlin again took silver, behind Bolt.

Gatlin has said many times since that he was injured in 2016. Nehemiah said Sunday it was something even more.

About three weeks after the Games, Nehemiah said, he called Gatlin and said, what happened? You faded at 80 meters — that’s not like you.

Gatlin is not one to complain. Even with Nehemiah — with whom he has worked since 2003 — he is not an excuse-maker.

Food poisoning, Gatlin said. I was sick the entire time I was in Rio.

“The previous two lessons,” Nehemiah said softly Sunday, meaning 2015 and 2016, “were about realizing that he was the only thing that was in his way.”

This 2017 season did not start auspiciously. Gatlin, who turned 35 in February, battled a succession of injuries. On May 5 and May 21, Gatlin ran two races in the 10s. On May 27 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, which is a fast track, he ran a wind-aided 9.97, good only for fifth — with the U.S. nationals, and a spot on the line for the worlds, coming up just three weeks later.

After the first round of heats at the nationals in Sacramento, California, Gatlin texted Pascal.

The two had first started working together in 2003. This is the nature of Gatlin’s world — a close inner circle and longstanding relationships. With Pascal, the work has not been every year. But now Gatlin was again reaching out, asking if they could connect while simultaneously offering a heartfelt apology for wrongs he might have committed over the course of their years together.

“He deeply apologized,” Pascal said, “then he said he was hoping we could work together that day. I said, yes, of course.

“If you look at his form, to me, I’m biased, in his semifinal, he looked dramatically better and his final he won,” Gatlin going 9.95, NCAA champion Christian Coleman 9.98.

That had maybe taken care of Gatlin’s physical connection. Now — emotionally and mentally?

Before the race, Mitchell had turned to Gatlin. Understand that Mitchell is not the sort who demands of his athletes, I need x or y. This time, though, he said to Gatlin, I need 9 seconds.

“Something inside of me just rose up,” Gatlin said Sunday, adding a moment later, “When my coach said, ‘I want those 9 seconds, it turned something on in me I haven’t felt in a long time. I said, ‘OK, I am going to give it to you.’ “

Mitchell said Sunday, “A cup can only hold so much water. We had walked this walk together for so many years. He found comfort in sharing with someone.”

He also said of Gatlin, “Humility is about life and humility is what you make of it. He got to the point where he wanted to do something that was bigger than himself. You have to share it or lose it. At this point in his career, he was willing to humble himself enough to give some of it away to keep all of it.”

Mitchell added, “It’s a love story,” in part the love the two men had for each other after all they had been through and in part their shared passion for the sport.

No one in the Gatlin circle is uncomfortable speaking like this. They love track and field. They love competing.

“Gat gave me — his love for track and the person he is gave me back my love for track,” Pascal said.

“‘I love it,’” Gatlin would tell Nehemiah, meaning everything about track and field. “‘I missed it so much.’ And,” Nehemiah said, “the thought of losing it weighed on him tremendously …”

That near-death experience on the highway in Europe? Gratitude for being alive. Humility that everyone had been given more time. The sense that there had to be a reason. Right? Why else?

“Spiritually,” Nehemiah would say Sunday, “it wasn’t his time the last two seasons.

“This was his season.”

Bolt came into London ranked only seventh in the world. Coleman was the world No. 1, with a 9.82 in Eugene at the NCAAs.

Team Gatlin had something of a stealth plan through the rounds: just do enough to get to the finals. No need to run too fast.

Which is exactly what Gatlin did, a 10.05 in the heats, then a 10.09, second in his semifinal, enough to get through to the final, where he drew Lane 8 — way out on the outside.

Bolt drew Lane 4, Coleman 5.

“Me and Dennis got quiet,” Gatlin said, when the lane draw came out, and they were looking at 8. “I was like, it’s going to be a glorified time trials again — it can work in our favor … I can set my own pace and no one is going to see me coming.”

Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

When Gatlin lined up, the boos rained down. Each and every round.

“Normal people might have folded or used the booing as naysaying or why didn’t you win? Everyone was wanting Usain to win,” Gatlin said. “I just dialed it out.”

In the final, when the gun went off, Gatlin’s mind was calm. He was not running solely for himself. He was, he said, running for, in no particular order, Pascal; for the USA Track & Field medical staff; for Nehemiah; for Mitchell; for the crew he trained with day in and out in Clermont, Florida; for his U.S. teammates here and in years gone by; for fans here and at home; for his family; for anyone and everyone who had supported him on this journey.

He was feeling the love.

He ran free and easy. He surged over the last half of the race, the way he did in the 100 in Athens in 2004, 13 long years ago, when he won Olympic gold: “That’s what got me to the line. That’s what took away the pressure. That’s what got me to the line first.”

A moment later, he bowed to Bolt, out of — genuine — respect. They embraced, again out of — real — respect.

Then, while the crowd chanted Bolt’s name, Gatlin, wrapped in the American flag, went over to the side of the stadium, to find his parents, Willie and Jeanette.

“For years the agony,” his father said Sunday. Now: “Just total redemption.”


Bowie Was Rare In Thinking She Could Win

LONDON- Tori Bowie admitted she felt like she was in the minority. Other than her, not many people believed she would win the 100-meter final at the IAAF World Championships on Sunday.

“I’d bet I’m probably the only person in the world who thought I could come out and win the 100 meters,” Bowie told Excelle Sports. “Tonight, I learned a lot. Always follow your heart. Everyone in the world was telling me, ‘Oh my god, why are you choosing the 100 over the 200?’ I was like, ‘This is how I’m feeling, this is the event I want to be the world champion in,’ and it happened.”

The American sprinter, who turns 27 later in the month, can claim the moniker of “World’s Fastest Woman” after sharply leaning on her final stride to the finish line to edge Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire by .01 seconds. London Olympic Stadium fell silent for a minute or two, as the athletes gasped for air on the track, waiting for the results of the photo finish. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands won the bronze medal a tenth of a second behind Bowie and Ta Lou.

“The last 40 meters are the best part of my race,” said Bowie. “I am currently working on the others. It’s slowly getting better. I was happy with the finish because I thought I was the top three, but when I saw my name on the board, I couldn’t believe it.”

The result finally vaulted the former long jumper at the University of Southern Mississippi to the top of the podium at a major event. Bowie won the 100-meter bronze medal in the previous World Championships two years ago in Beijing, losing to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. At the Rio Olympics last summer, she placed silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200 before anchoring the 4-by-100 relay team to a gold medal. Elaine Thompson of Jamaica defeated her in both individual sprint events in Rio and was a disappointing fifth on Sunday, as she was the world leader again this season.

“They all deserved to be on that podium, they worked hard and deserved it,” Thompson told Excelle Sports. “Tonight didn’t go as planned. I’ll have to watch the video because I don’t know what went wrong. I didn’t execute my race, which is a shame.”

Heats for the 200 are on Tuesday night, with the semifinals and final on Thursday. Joining Bowie in the field are Americans Deajah Stevens and Kimberlyn Duncan, plus Schippers – the reigning champion. The Olympic champion Thompson is not running the 200 meters.

Bowie’s 100-meter victory also came one night after Justin Gatlin upset Usain Bolt in the men’s final of track’s marquee event. This means the U.S. now claims both world titles simultaneously for the first time since Gatlin and Lauryn Williams achieved the feat at Helsinki in 2005. Since then, Jamaica won 14 of the 16 World and Olympic 100-meter gold medals. With all of the hype over Bolt’s retirement and the end of an era in men’s track, perhaps there is a changing of the guard for the women, as well.


Thompson Shocker Adds To Bolt Heartbreak

LONDON, England:

For the first time since 2005, Jamaica has been kept off the top of the medal podium at a major championship in the 100m events.

There was no Jamaican winner in the men's 100m and, last night, with double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson finishing fifth in 10.98 seconds, no winner in the women's 100m.

For fans of the 'Sprint Capital' of the world, it is a bitter pill to swallow, a rude awakening of what might become in the continued absence of intervention.

Thompson did not make much of it, but a pre-race vomiting incident had her rivals worried about her, with silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, who ran 10.86, noting, "I am sorry for her (Thompson). I think before the race, she was sick. I hope she gets better and I have respect for her. She is a big, big athlete!"

The Jamaican was still struggling to find the answers after what was her first non-top-three finish since June 2014.

Push Me Harder

"I don't know what happened. I have to go and watch the replay. I stumbled and tried to get it back. I wasn't getting the form I wanted to and I tried not to panic," said a smiling Thompson, who also alleviated fears she had suffered an injury mid-race. "I am healthy. I came out here brave, strong and ready to go, but that didn't happen. This defeat will push me harder and help me to work harder."

American Tori Bowie took gold in 10.85 seconds, with Ta Lou taking silver in 10.86. Dafne Schippers was third in 10.96 seconds.

This was Thompson's fourth loss in 35 races over 100m.

Yesterday's third day of competition inside the London Stadium actually started well enough for the Jamaicans, who will today have four athletes competing in finals.

Rich in quarter-mile history, Jamaica has had five different finalists in the men's 400m at these championships. The last one was Jermaine Gonzales, who finished fourth in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.

The island, however, has never had two men qualifying for the final of the one-lap event at the same championship, an accomplishment achieved by the ever-improving pair of Nathon Allen and Demish Gaye.

Allen glided to a second-place finish behind Bahamian Steven Gardiner, 43.89, with a personal-best mark of 44.19 seconds in his semi-final, and Gaye matching that effort, finishing second to Botswana's Isaac Makwala, 44.30, also in personal-best fashion with a time of 44.55 seconds.

"It's a great feeling representing my country. To make the final is a great feeling and I am just focused on going out there and doing my best," Gaye told The Gleaner after his run. "It means a lot to me to see that I can go out there and represent my country well along with my teammate Nathon Allen. It's a great feeling.

Any Issues

Allen, for the second straight day, was taken straight to the medical area for a check-up, but was later cleared of any issues.

The final will take place tomorrow at 9:50 p.m. (3:50 p.m. Jamaica time), with Allen drawn to compete in Lane Six beside South African Wayde Van Niekerk, the world record holder, and Gaye lining up in Lane Eight.

There will also be two Jamaicans in the 110m hurdles final, with Olympic champion Omar McLeod and Beijing 2015 silver medal winner Hansle Parchment both securing lanes in the medal round.

"I remember in 2015, I had just turned pro. I was paying my dues. I got a sixth place and it was, honestly, like a gold medal for me, so this year is like a redemption. I just have to go out there and focus on me, have fun and execute," said McLeod after his all-qualifiers-leading 13.10 seconds win in last night's semi-final.

McLeod has won all but one of his 10 races this season and will enter the final as the strong favourite for a second straight gold medal at a major international championship.

Parchment has been less convincing this season, but has a history of showing up when it matters. He is looking for another big-race run in tonight's 9:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m.) final.

"When I come out, I tell myself that I am the best. I know I need to show that, so I keep motivating myself every time I step on the track because I know Jamaica is looking for me to give them good performances. I want to surprise myself with strong times as well," said Parchment.

All three Jamaicans are through to tonight's men's 400m hurdles semi-final at 8:20 p.m. (2:20 p.m.)

Jaheel Hyde, 49.72, was second in his heat, with Ricardo Cunningham, 49.91, and Kemar Mowatt, 50.00, both taking fourth spot in their respective heats.

Novlene Williams-Mills, 51.00, was the fastest Jamaican qualifier in women's 400m and the fourth fastest overall, with Chrisann Gordon, 51.14, Shericka Jackson, 51.26, and Stephenie-Ann McPherson, 51.27, all comfortably advancing as well.

Kimberly Williams and Shaneika Ricketts will compete in the women's triple jump final at 8:25 p.m. (2:25 p.m.), with Yohan Blake, Rasheed Dwyer and Warren Weir taking the track a bit earlier in the men's 200m heats at 6:30 p.m (12:30 p.m).


"BBC Happy To Ignore (British) Elephant In The Room"

Treatment of Gatlin in stark contrast to the refusal to ask questions about Mo Farah’s coach

here are cheerleaders in every sport but not all carry pompoms. It seems that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has decided to reserve all critical analysis in relation to any controversy, past or present, drugs or otherwise, for ‘Johnny Foreigner’ when it comes to the World Athletics Championships in London.

The victories of Somali-born, Brit superstar Mo Farah (men’s 10,000 metres), American Justin Gatlin (100 metres), and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana (women’s 10,000 metres) invoked pride and prejudice but unlike the title character in Jane Austen’s novel, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the BBC commentary and analysis principals haven’t come to realise the important difference between the superficial and the essential.

There is a latent jingoism that’s front and centre when it comes to dear old Auntie and its coverage of the world of athletics, so tut-tutting about impartiality or restraint when there’s a red, white and blue filter on every screen image is a little naïve. They’re entitled to be bullish.

Accepting the partisan nature and the cloying emotional sentiment invested in the glory of the land of hope is one thing but the BBC ought to have a professional journalistic responsibility not to run a mile from discussing uncomfortable issues pertaining to one of their own.

Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar is currently being investigated as there have been allegations leaked in a 329-page report by the US anti-doping agency (Usada) into Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project training group.

The report alleges Salazar abused prescription medicines and used prohibited infusions to boost testosterone levels of his athletes. It also claims UK Athletics ignored warnings from a doctor that Farah was receiving potentially harmful treatments from his coach on moving to the US to join Salazar’s training group (2010).

Usada’s investigation continues but Farah and Salazar have always vehemently denied any wrongdoing. No one expects this to be woven into the race commentary but it’s germane to any pre- or post-race discussion, especially as Farah declined to do any media interviews prior to the 10,000 metres final to address the accusations.

Instead the task of defence fell to Neil Black, the UK Athletics Performance Director, who claimed he had looked in the eyes of Farah and Salazar and asserted that they weren’t cheats. He may be employing the black arts, so to speak, but a more likely suspicion is that it’s another mumbo-jumbo assertion drawn from the lexicon of sporting bureaucrats.

Stunning triumph

The post-race discourse relating to Ayana’s stunning triumph in the women’s 10,000 metres was also oddly incongruous given the circumstances; her first 10,000m race of an injury-plagued season saw her decimate a field of the best athletes in the world by a margin of 46 seconds.

This comes a matter of days after the Guardian newspaper ran an article by Martha Kelner under the headline, ‘Inside the doping hotspot of Ethiopia: dodgy testing and EPO over the counter’.

The allegations made in the article are eye-opening but it should be stated that there is no correlation whatsoever between Ayana’s triumph and its contents other than that the issues raised would merit some reference in any middle distance running discussion. To pick at one strand might have unravelled others and the BBC weren’t willing to take that chance.

But the Beeb had no problem fixing Justin Gatlin in their crosshairs. A twice-banned drugs cheat ruins Usain Bolt’s swansong championship appearance by winning the 100-metres title. The crowd bayed at and booed the villain; the BBC verbally and pictorially ignored the winner to focus on Bolt, exuding a moral righteousness as if adopting a tone from those in the stadium.

The BBC didn’t contemplate for one instant that Gatlin might win and so Steve Cram and his buddies were at a loss for words; well, until he had a chance to arrange his thoughts and have them beamed into the Twittersphere by BBC5 live.

The gist of his contribution on Gatlin’s triumph was that the London crowd were perfectly entitled to boo the American, that the sprinter’s primary fame is for being a drugs cheat and that he must accept and understand it when people articulate their displeasure.

Cram concluded: “And that’s just people explaining and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that, in explaining to athletes, explaining to the IAAF, explaining to journalists, explaining to us as broadcasters how they feel about this man [Gatlin].”
No critical analysis of either Farah or Ayana has turned the BBC coverage into a ‘fawnzine’.

So ethics are to be decided by a public vote, sport’s version of reality television, a popularity contest defined under narrow parameters, where nationality is key and as long as the elephant is prepared to sit quietly in the corner of the room, there is no need to reference its presence, or think about it. It’s the modern way, live in the moment.


Centrowitz The Best American Miler Ever?

He’s running for the American record and another world championship. But first, he needs to check his Twitter timeline.

For once, Matthew Centrowitz didn't know what to do when he crossed the finish line.

He had copied a LeBron James celebration after winning the U.S. title in the 1,500 meters in 2015 and dabbed like Cam Newton after winning an indoor mile in 3:54.02 last year in Charlotte. But after finishing first to become the first American to win Olympic gold in the 1,500 meters since 1908, a stunned Centrowitz could only extend his arms and hold his palms up to the sky as if to ask, “Did that just happen?”

Centrowitz won silver at the 2011 world championships and bronze in 2013, but a win in Rio seemed out of the question going up against Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, one of the best metric milers of all time. Centrowitz controlled the race from the gun, however, and blitzed through a last lap of 50.6 seconds as his family and close friends celebrated by yelling and attempting to crowd surf in the stands.

One week after the race of his life, Centrowitz was still in disbelief. If he could break the American record in the 1,500 or the mile, he told me then, he would have claim to the title of greatest American miler of all time.

“There’s definitely been a lot of talk about me getting the American record in the 1,500 before my career is over,” Centrowitz says. “At least for my mindset, that would kind of put the nail in the coffin.”

One year later, his gold medal tour hasn’t been the record-breaking celebration he hoped it would be. Injuries and other setbacks have turned the year into a tour of so-so races. He nearly didn’t run the U.S. Championships because of injury. He did just enough to qualify for the world championships, where he’ll compete in London in the 1.500-meter event beginning on Aug. 10. There, he will have a chance to redeem what can be best described as a hangover of a season.

Centrowitz is on borrowed time if he is going to set records, inching over to the wrong side of his prime at 27. As the glow of his Olympic gold fades, his mission to become the greatest American miler is ongoing, but losing steam.

With less than three weeks until the 2017 U.S. Track and Field Championships, Centrowitz wasn’t supposed to be in Las Vegas. Like the rest of the top runners in the country, he should have been on the track. But a slight tear in his right adductor — one of his many setbacks in 2017 — left Centrowitz dejected.

Centrowitz dyed his hair blonde and bought a one-way ticket to Las Vegas. His season, he decided, was over.

The members of Centrowitz’s inner circle — his father, coaches, friends, and training partners — don’t stop him from reaching NBA levels of pettiness on social media, like when he calls out a Twitter troll for running a “pedestrian” 4:46 mile. They don’t mind his finish-line antics. They do, however, hold him accountable, and they weren’t going to let him wallow away in Vegas.

Centrowitz arrived in Vegas on a Saturday. His coach, agent, and some family members called him on Sunday to convince him he could still race at the national championships. He flew back to Portland on Monday and received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help his adductor that day.

Centrowitz is very close with his family. His dad, Matt Centrowitz, was a 1976 Olympian and made the Olympic team in 1980 when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. His mother, Beverly Bannister-Centrowitz, is in the Hunter College Athletics Hall of Fame for track. His older sister, Lauren, was an All-American runner at Stanford.

“All my kids were great runners,” Matt says, “but Matthew took it much more seriously.”

Matt recalls how his son had a penchant for history at a young age. Matt ran with Steve Prefontaine at the University of Oregon and used to tell his son stories about the legendary runner. Centrowitz studied all of the sport’s greats.

Jim Ryun above all. Ryun was the first high school runner to break four minutes in the mile, an Olympic silver medalist, and a world record holder with a 3:51 mile. He was, and still is, Centrowitz’s favorite. “For him to run those times in the 1960s and ‘70s,” Centrowitz says, “it’s just incredible.” He pored over Ryun’s In Quest of Gold, his dad calling it his bible.

Centrowitz still geeks out when he talks about his heroes. “I think my favorite part of winning gold,” he says, “was just kind of seeing all the legends of the event, the mile—guys like Jim Ryun, Sebastian Coe, Hicham el Guerrouj — and seeing how excited they were for me. These are guys I’ve looked up to and still look up to, and for them to give me any kind of credit, is just humbling and honoring. It’s honestly surreal.”

Centrowitz started building his legacy as a 21-year-old at his dad’s alma mater, Oregon, winning a bronze medal in the 1,500 at the 2011 world championships. He turned pro the following year, joining the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar. He missed out on a medal at the 2012 London Olympics by 0.04 seconds. He made up for that heartbreak and then some in Rio, leading nearly wire to wire in a slowly paced race to win a shocking gold.

After that race, Coe, the British runner who won the 1,500 at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, presented Centrowitz with his gold medal. “Welcome to the club,” Coe said. Centrowitz’s father went even further. At some point in the weeks following his gold medal race, he told his son: “You’re the best American miler ever.”

Two weeks before the 2017 U.S. Championships in Sacramento, however, the gold medalist was struggling after his return from Vegas. “I couldn’t break 33 [seconds] for 200 meters,” Centrowitz says of his first workout after his injection. He kept at it, and ran a 1,000-meter time trial five days later. The result, a 2:21, wasn’t his best (Centrowitz has run 2:16.67), but it was progress.

Less than a week later, he hopped on a plane to Sacramento and ran a preliminary race that he says “shook off the rust.” Two days later, he finished second in the final to qualify for the world championships.

Did you see the Andy Bayer one?” Centrowitz asks me over the phone from St. Moritz, Switzerland, where he was training at altitude throughout July. In quick, excitable bursts, he’s talking about another Twitter beef.

He laughs them all off, like the 20-year-old college student who tweeted a month before the Olympics that he’d get a tattoo of Centrowitz’s face if he medaled in Rio. Centrowitz called him out on it. A tattoo of Centrowitz holding the American flag now covers the student’s left shoulder blade.

Centrowitz’s finish-line celebrations, which he likens to end-zone dances, are ripped from other sports. He’s partial to the LeBron celebration in which he mock-fired a pistol into the sky before reloading and holstering it. Centrowitz jokingly modeled it in front of training partners in the weight room while watching 2015 NBA Finals highlights before unleashing it on the track. Despite knowing the dab had already lived a life in full, Centrowitz honored Cam Newton at an indoor meet in Charlotte.

Like those NBA and NFL superstars, Centrowitz is a different athlete from his peers.

The best basketball and football athletes do things that mere mortals can't dream of, whereas almost everyone in the world can run. In track, fans want to know what elite athletes are doing so that they can apply it to their own training. Because of this, many runners, like 2016 Olympian Brenda Martinez, have staid public personas, tweeting out workouts and pictures of their runs. Others, like American 10k record holder Galen Rupp, are almost absent from social media, like NBA players who “go dark” in the playoffs.

The thought of Ryun imitating Joe Namath or talking trash in the 1960s seems absurd. Centrowitz, however, enjoys trolling.

Even Centrowitz’s gait has flash. It appears smooth, and powerful, and effortless even as he’s running a 3:50 mile pace. His stride eats up the track when he breaks into his finishing sprint, like James turning on the jets for a chase-down block.

“The moves he makes in races are almost violent,” Johnny Gregorek, Centrowitz’s teammate in the 1,500 in London, said after the Olympic Trials last year. “They are so sudden and decisive.”

Like James and Newton, Centrowitz isn’t for everyone, and he’s not immune from controversy. Training with the Nike Oregon Project comes with its own set of headaches. While it is considered one of the best training groups in the world, it is also dogged by drug allegations. A BBC and ProPublica report in 2013 alleged that Salazar was leading a win-at-all-costs training regimen that included the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The group is under USADA investigation, and the FBI is reportedly involved.

Salazar adamantly denied the accusations on multiple occasions. Centrowitz, too, has continually denied taking performance-enhancing drugs. Centrowitz was the most drug-tested U.S. track athlete in 2016, with 17 out-of-competition tests, and has never failed one.

Centrowitz doesn’t let drug tests or online haters faze him. He seems to thrive off doubt and loves talking back — especially when he can back it up.

“Same as Kevin Durant after the Warriors won the title,” Centrowitz says. “As long as you’re taking care of business then you can have some fun.”

Centrowitz tries to be humble about his legacy, but he agrees that he is close to being considered the American GOAT — he just can’t put himself above his idol Ryun just yet without a record.

When it comes to hardware, no one matches up with Centrowitz. Other than Mel Sheppard (1908) and James Lightbody (1904), he’s the only U.S. runner with Olympic gold in the 1,500. In fact, since 1952 only Ryun (1972) and Leonel Manzano (2012) have won medals.

His times, however, aren’t quite the stuff of legend. His 3:30.40 in the 1,500 makes him the third-fastest American of all time at the distance. In the mile, Centrowitz’s 3:50.53 makes him the ninth-best.

Faster runners include Alan Webb, the American record holder in the mile at 3:46.91, and Bernard Lagat, the Kenyan-born American who won the 1,500 and 5,000 at the 2007 world championships and has the American record in the 1,500 at 3:29.3. Steve Scott had the American record before Webb and ran a world record 136 sub-4:00 miles. Sydney Maree had the 1,500 record before Lagat.

Ryun, meanwhile, has a resume that’s hard to match: He held the world record in the mile for almost 10 years. Dr. Michael Joyner is an expert in human performance at the Mayo Clinic — back in 1991, he predicted that a human could run 1:57:58 in the marathon, long before Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:00:25 in a controlled, Nike-sponsored race in May — thinks Ryun’s 3:51.3 world record in 1966 was one of the most impressive runs of all time.

At 27, Centrowitz is about to leave what many consider his prime. A 2011 French study concluded that athletes start to see physical declines at age 26. Centrowitz hasn’t set a personal best in the 1,500 since 2015, or the mile since 2014. The American mile record has been broken 16 times by seven different runners since 1955, and the average age of the runner on each record-breaking run was 23 years and 243 days. Only two of the seven — Jim Beatty and Jim Grelle — were 27 years or older when they set the record.

This isn’t to say Centrowitz is washed up. Thanks to better training, injury prevention, and earning opportunities (athletes were amateurs in the 1950s and ‘60s), more and more runners are extending their careers. Lagat, for example, won U.S. Olympic Trials at 5,000 meters last year as a 39-year-old and set the current 1,500 record in 2005 when he was 30.

But age isn’t the only factor. Racing for time is a different beast than racing for place. Tactical races like the Olympic finals are all about positioning and strategy.

Centrowitz’s gold medal time in Rio was more than 20 seconds off Lagat’s record, for example. He won in large part because he is a savvy racer. With about 450 meters to go, Ayanleh Souleiman briefly took the lead from Centrowitz, but only for an instant. Almost immediately, Centrowitz slithered by Souleiman on the inside, brushing him with his elbow. If Centrowitz hadn’t responded so quickly, he could have been swallowed up by the pack. Instead, he was clear of the field and had the inside track for the final 400 meters.

Most record-breaking races occur when the runners are in a single file, with pacemakers leading the way for the first half of the race or more. Instead of worrying about timing a finishing sprint or getting tripped up by an opponent, runners can focus on efficiency.

Comparing records to medals is a little like comparing rings to stats. If you’re an NBA fan, would you rather have Russell and his 11 rings or Wilt Chamberlain and his preposterous numbers? It’s a difficult question. Until Centrowitz has numbers on his side, his legacy will be the subject of similar debate.

The morning after the night in Rio that changed everything for Centrowitz — after NBC cameras caught his family’s bombastic celebration in the stands, after the blur of the victory lap and the medal ceremony, after decompressing with those closest to him at a small restaurant in the early hours of the next morning — he woke up early to his father asking if he was awake. They had to get to a morning show on NBC.

“Yeah, Dad,” he said. “What’s up?”

“My son, Olympic champion,” Matt said. “I still can’t believe this is real.”

“Me neither, Dad,” Matthew said with a grin as he pulled the gold medal out from under his pillow.

It was one of the few moments of calm for Centrowitz in the immediate aftermath of his gold medal run. He spent the next few weeks answering media requests and making appearances with his new piece of hardware. Almost one year later, he is still answering questions about the gold medal — the price of being an Olympic champion. His dad published a book called Like Father, Like Son, and Centrowitz has become a headliner at races where he used to be an also-ran.

Centrowitz believes he’s handling the extra pressure. His attitude hasn’t changed. The hardware hasn’t altered his off-track or post-race antics, even if the circumstances are different.

One thing remains the same 11 months after the Rio win: There is still a sense of disbelief. Centrowitz says he and his dad still talk about the race, citing that moment with about 450 meters to go as the turning point in a career-defining race.

They also talk about his legacy and what else he can do on the track and the American record. Not that they need to. Centrowitz is getting older, and breaking records is hard. By winning gold the way he did, Centrowitz did plenty to get the world talking.

“Is Michael Jordan better than LeBron?” Centrowitz says. “You’re gonna have that talk for the rest of our lives. I won’t be able to race Jim Ryun or Alan Webb — at everyone’s peak especially. I think it’s entertaining to talk about it.”

To be considered among the best ever isn’t easy. Centrowitz knows his history, and he knows he has a place in it. Staring down the American record, he is exactly where he wants to be.


Unrepentant Gatlin Rejects "Bad Boy" Label

Justin Gatlin insisted his pariah status was undeserved as the least popular world 100 metres champion in history still refused to see his triumph over Usain Bolt as a setback for the sport.

The two-time drug cheat's victory on Saturday night in 9.92 seconds was greeted by a cacophony of boos, as his every appearance at the London Stadium has been.

There is no hiding from the embarrassment that the unrepentant American's victory will cause to a sport still struggling to regain credibility in the wake of repeated doping scandals.

The retiring Bolt, cast as the 'saviour' of athletics in his battles with Gatlin, had his goodbye gatecrashed - and by the one man almost no one wanted to spoil the party.

Gatlin was effusive and gracious in his praise of bronze medallist Bolt after the race, bowing down to him on the track and lauding him in interviews, but for the 35-year-old sorry still seems to be the hardest word.

His first ban in 2001 he blamed on an amphetamine contained in attention deficit disorder medication. The second in 2006, which resulted in a four-year suspension, reduced from eight on appeal, he attributed to a testosterone massage cream applied to his body without his knowledge.

Remorse has not been forthcoming - and still, at least publicly, is not.

Asked if he could understand why his victory was seen as a disaster for the sport, he said: "I really don't need to understand.

"I can understand the rivalry that I have with Usain, but it's not a bitter rivalry. I respect the man and every time we come across the line I've shaken his hand, given him a hug and told him congratulations and that's all the really matters for me.

"I'm just a runner, I'm back in the sport, I've done my time.

"I've come back, did community service, I talked to kids and inspired kids about the right path. That's all I can do.

"Society does that for people who have made mistakes and I hope track and field can understand that to. That's why I'm back in the sport and that's why I'm still running."

Gatlin has Bolt's backing - "he deserves to be here, because he's done his time," said the Jamaican - and he is of course far from alone in having a doping past.

Plenty of athletes have returned from bans and won medals and received far warmer receptions.

Asked about his "bad boy" reputation, Gatlin said: "What do I do that makes me a bad boy?

"Do I talk bad about anybody? Do I give bad gestures? I don't. I shake every athlete's hand. I congratulate them, I tell them good luck. That doesn't sound like a bad boy to me.

"It seems like the media want to sensationalise it and make me a bad boy because Usain is the hero. That's fine, I know you've got to have a black hat and a white hat, but guys, come on.

"I keep it classy and I never talk bad. I try to inspire other athletes. I don't see where the bad boy comes from."

"I'm just a runner, I'm back in the sport, I've done my time."
The fact is, though, that the 100m is the blue riband event and has been particularly beset by drug problems.

Of the 30 best 100m times in history, 21 have been achieved by athletes who have served drug bans - with the other nine all coming from Bolt.

It is grovelling rather than winning that Gatlin has to focus on if he wants to silence the boos.

There will inevitably be more when he returns to the stadium on Sunday to take to the top of the podium, a ceremony that has been brought forward from 8.00pm to 6.50pm.

And, after landing the 100m crown 12 years after his last global title, Gatlin looks set to be around for some time yet.

While Bolt, at 30, has run his last individual race and will hang up his spikes after Saturday's 4x100m relay final, Gatlin has no retirement plans. Indeed, he indicated the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 could be a goal.

"One millisecond when I crossed the line, I was like, 'I'm retiring'," he said.

"My son wants (me) to go to Tokyo 2020, so I'm just going to take it year by year, race by race, and work hard."