Tuesday, 11 July 2017 17:52

Greg Rutherford given time to prove his fitness for World Championships

Defending long jump champion Greg Rutherford has been selected in the British Athletics team for the World Championships despite growing doubts over his fitness.

The 30-year-old suffered an ankle injury last month which has left him struggling to be fit for August's Championships in London.

Rutherford won the long jump in Beijing two years ago and British Athletics will give him every chance to defend his title.

"Obviously this isn't ideal," Rutherford, who won Olympic gold in London in 2012, said. "But I am doing everything to give myself the best chance of success at the World Championships in London."

Performance director Neil Black insisted, despite Rutherford's injury, the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion can retain his crown.

"It would be an interesting person to bet against him. There are some guys who are jumping well but 8.30 metres is still likely to be competitive for a medal and there's no reason why Greg can't do that," he said.

"He's being sensibly cautious. He's the existing world champion and has demonstrated an amazing ability to perform off unusual preparation. He is doing everything he can, we're doing everything we can and if anyone can do it it's Greg.

"It will be unknown until we get there. His ability and history to perform off unusual preparation is so good and we'll support him all the way through to the competition."

Reigning 5000 metres and 10,000 metres world champion Mo Farah tops the billing in the 78-strong team which was announced on Tuesday.

Farah, who has not been defeated in a 5000m or 10,000m race at a major championships since 2011, will be looking to pick up his fourth straight world title in the 5000m and complete a hat-trick of 10,000m world titles before he retires from track racing.

Laura Muir is also aiming for gold in the 1500m after recovering from a stress fracture in her foot earlier this year. She also claimed a place in the 5000m.

But Adam Gemili has only made the team in the 4x100m relay squad with Zharnel Hughes preferred in the 200m after Gemili came sixth in the British trials.

Black said: "That event is probably our best quality and strength-in-depth event so it was always going to be difficult. It was a hugely difficult decision.

"A lot of it is timing and when it comes down to it you have to choose the best people who have the best recent performances and that was the outcome. Adam will be a critical member of the relay team."

Katarina Johnson-Thompson will compete in the heptathlon and high jump, Sophie Hitchon, who won Olympic bronze last year, will compete in the hammer and European indoor hurdle champion Andrew Pozzi will run in the men's 110m hurdles.

Dina Asher-Smith has won her fitness battle after a broken foot to claim a place in the women's individual 200m and 4x100m relay squad.

"This feels bigger for us than Rio," added Black. "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."

There will be a second and final selection meeting on July 24, where athletes who have achieved qualifying standards can be added.


Medical records leak was unacceptable, says Coe

World athletics chief Sebastian Coe said on Tuesday the recent leakage of athletes’ personal medical information by hackers group Fancy Bears, which also appeared to link elite Kenyan athletes to doping, was unacceptable.

Addressing a news conference in the Kenyan capital on the eve of the Under-18 world athletics championships, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president said the leakage should not be interpreted as proof of doping.

"Everybody is entitled to private medical information and it is unacceptable that this should find its way to public domain,” Coe told reporters.

He also said one reading of an athlete's biological passport did not constitute wrongdoing or an infringement.

"It might have been taken out of context and very misleading,” Coe said.

Among Kenyans whose personal medical records were leaked by the global hackers are three-times world 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop and javelin world champion and Olympic silver medallist Julius Yego.

British distance runner Mo Farah, a four-times Olympic gold medallist, was also a victim of the hack.

Coe denied that athletics is losing its popularity, saying that tickets for next month’s world championships in London had sold out quickly.

“But we must do everything we can to remain relevant and salient in the lives of young people," he said.

"We have upgraded technology and adopted creative ways of telling our narrative to improve presentation of our sport.”


Russia aims to hit dopers in the pocket

MOSCOW >> Russia wants to hit dopers where it hurts — in their bank accounts.

In a push to restore Russia’s sporting reputation after numerous doping scandals, the government has approved a plan to reclaim prize money and government grants from athletes who are found to be cheating.

Several Russian athletes have been able to hold onto large sums, despite being caught doping.

In a package of anti-doping measures signed Monday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Russian Sports Ministry and national sports federations to develop a scheme for “confiscating income and property from athletes, coaches, doctors and other specialists” involved in doping cases.

It wasn’t specified how this would be achieved. The Sports Ministry has previously faced allegations from World Anti-Doping Agency investigators that its own staff covered up doping.

Besides prize money from competitions, Russian athletes often get lavish rewards from the state, and many keep them even if banned as drug cheats.

Gold medalists from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, for example, received 4 million rubles ($70,000) from a public-private fund, plus a white BMW SUV in a ceremony at the Kremlin. Regional governments also handed out apartments, cars and, in one case, even a horse.

Organizers of many international sports events require athletes to pay back prize money if they’re later disqualified over a failed drug test. However, enforcing these rules is difficult. The threat of further sporting sanctions is meaningless for an athlete who has retired or is banned for life.

An Associated Press investigation last year found one Russian athlete, the former Olympic race-walking champion Olga Kaniskina, was liable to repay $135,000 in prize money from events where she was later disqualified.

Foreign athletes who have been upgraded to track and field titles as a result of doping disqualifications for Russians have complained of having to wait years for their prize money. International track and field events typically insist dopers must pay back the prize money in full before anything is paid to the new medalists.

The package of measures signed Monday also includes plans to stop those who commit doping offenses from taking jobs as coaches or state sports officials, a common occurrence in Russia.