Wednesday, 12 July 2017 10:16

Farah leads British challenge at world championships

LONDON (Reuters) - Mo Farah will defend his 5,000 and 10,000 metres world titles on home soil next month after being named on Tuesday in Britain's team for the world athletics championships.

The double Olympic champion in both events, who has not been defeated at either distance in a major championship since 2011, is the leading draw among 78 British athletes chosen for the event which begins on Aug. 4.

Long-jumper Greg Rutherford will also defend his crown in the same stadium where he won gold at the London 2012 Olympics, despite an ankle injury suffered last month.

Laura Muir will hope to build on her double success at the European indoor championships in the 1,500 and 3,000 metres. Promising sprinter Adam Gemili misses out on the 200 metres and will feature only in the 4x100m relay squad.

Britain won seven medals in athletics at the Olympics in Rio last year, the same number they won at the world championships in Beijing in 2015.

"This feels bigger for us than Rio," said Neil Black, the performance director for British Athletics.

"We've selected some incredibly talented athletes, and in many events there have been some close calls. It's now up to them to grasp this opportunity and produce performances that will make the whole nation proud."

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge, editing by Ed Osmond)


Seb Coe Calls On Olympic Dream To Be Sold Better

The International Olympic Committee, forced into a corner, has agreed to award the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time later this year, with Paris likely to take the earlier edition and Los Angeles the later one.

Both had originally bid for the ’24 Olympics only, LA stepping in after Boston, the USA’s preferred choice, dropped out.

It withdrew after first Hamburg, then Rome and finally Budapest all cancelled their bids citing mainly exorbitant and increasing costs.

The spectre of corruption and dilapidated, unused venues also weighs heavily on the minds of potential bidders, as does the prospect of a long and very expensive campaign that for most ends in failure.

The cost of the campaigns alone can be enough to put anyone off throwing their hat in the ring.

Chris Dempsey from the “No Boston Olympics” group campaigned hard to make sure that bid was halted.

“We did not want to see [Boston’s] future put at risk by a 10 to 15 billion dollars sporting event that was going to leave our city with a bunch of venues we didn’t need and a lot of debt that we’d have to pay back," he said.

And he believes the IOC is far from transparent when it encourages cities to put themselves forward in the first place.

“This is not a race to see who is the best city…this is an auction where the IOC is trying to extract as many concessions as it possible can from the host cities.

"And I think cities around the world are wising up to that.”

But Seb Coe, now IAAF President but in 2012 the figurehead for the London Games, told ITV News today the Olympic movement needs to work harder to distinguish between cost and investment.

“I know that through the London years that the transformation of East London which is an extraordinary place now is in large part the story of the Games," he said.

"We have to go on explaining that what we are doing is not just delivering a great sporting event for two or three weeks, we have to leave things behind that make a difference in the lives of young people and I’m not sure as yet we’ve mastered that narrative.”

That the most recent Games in Rio de Janeiro were a sporting success is by and large unarguable, what has followed though in less than a year is far from encouraging.

Many of the venues are abandoned and are already falling into disrepair, the city can’t afford to run them.

The organisers of Rio Games are still thought to owe various suppliers and contractors more than £20 million.

The IOC has already contributed an astonishing £1.1 billion to Brazil’s showpiece event and will not be helping out anymore.

It is that legacy and not London’s which is pushing the IOC to be more creative.

They now start negotiating with both Paris and Los Angeles, hoping they can broker a way ahead to suit all parties.

When that is done it will be back to the drawing board and an increasingly unpopular one at that.
Last updated Tue 11 Jul 2017


Advantage IAAF or CAS?

The governing body for global athletics, the IAAF, heads to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland at the end of the month, armed with evidence it hopes will be enough to overturn a CAS decision of 2015, and to reinstate its so-called “hyperandrogenism policy”.

The policy regulates the testosterone levels of female athletes with intersex conditions. The evidence, some of which was published in a prestigious sports science journal last week, showed that among 2 127 athletes in two athletics world championships women with higher testosterone levels performed between 1.8% and 4.5% better than women with lower testosterone levels in selected events.

This is, by way of background, the evidence that the IAAF was asked to find in July 2015, when CAS ruled in favour of an Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, who was challenging the hyperandrogenism regulations.

Hyperandrogenism regulations were nonexistent before 2009, but were created after the disastrous handling of the Caster Semenya case in Berlin that year.

They required that intersex athletes like Chand (and, allegedly, Semenya, though she has not confirmed this), who usually have male chromosomes, internal testes and high levels of the male hormone testosterone, take hormone-suppressing medication.

This to reduce their testosterone levels below a cut-off level that had been determined and verified by research on female athletes.

The policy meant that from 2010 to 2015, all intersex athletes — nine were identified by the research in 2011 and 2013 — were taking hormones to keep their testosterone levels below a cut-off of 10 nmol/L. Then Chand won her CAS case.

From July 2015, testosterone suppression was no longer required. However, that was merely the first instalment. CAS did not dismiss the policy outright, but made its decision based on: (a) a lack of evidence for the benefit of testosterone in women; and (b) the discriminatory nature of applying such a policy to one group only, in the absence of evidence.

They gave the IAAF two years to gather that evidence, and here we are, for part two. If the IAAF is successful and CAS reinstates the hyperandrogenism policy, then a group of at least nine women identified in the course of the IAAF research — Semenya being one of them, allegedly — will have to undertake hormone therapy again. I’ve no doubt they will slow down substantially.

The big question for now, though is: Will the IAAF’s evidence be enough? On the face of it, I doubt it.

Unless the IAAF has more than this published study, I don’t think it will clear the bar that CAS set with its verdict.

CAS was very clear in saying that the advantage of intersex athletes needed to be large, outranking other genetic advantages. It referred many times in its decision to the typical 10% advantage that men enjoy over women, which reveals where its thinking is.

I don’t think that a 1.8% to 4.5% advantage in some events only will clear that bar and satisfy CAS’s thinking, though I may be wrong. A lot depends on how well both sides can argue the issue of what constitutes an advantage that, to borrow CAS’s words, “outranks other genetic advantages”.

I think CAS was wrong to get trapped into this “ranking’’- o - advantage thinking. People are quick to point out that all successful athletes have genetic advantages over their rivals — LeBron James is tall, Usain Bolt has fast-twitch muscles, Michael Phelps had a body perfect for swimming.

However, in my opinion, this misses a key point — we don’t attempt to regulate these genetic advantages by having categories for height in basketball, or muscle fibre type in running. We do, however, regulate the single-largest genetic advantage for performance — sex. It’s why separate categories exist for men and women.

Defending the integrity of women’s sport requires that this separation be protected. But CAS created a philosophical question and dilemma that science can’t answer to defend it.

Whatever decision is made, and I expect CAS to repeat its previous one, won’t put an end to this controversial issue — it has some far-reaching implications, most notably for transgender athletes.

However, it is the next instalment in the now longrunning intersex issue, and all eyes will be on Lausanne at the end of the month.