Women's 400m Hurdles - Monaco Diamond League 2017


Usain Bolt in final race before world championships

Usain Bolt races for the last time before his farewell world championships, live during NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold‘s coverage of a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Bolt will put his four-year winning streak on the line in a 100m race against his toughest field since the Rio Olympics.

The race start is set for 3:35 p.m. A meet preview is here.

The Jamaican will retire after racing the 100m and 4x100m worlds in London in August, with Monaco being his only other meet left this season.

There are doubts about Bolt’s form with worlds in two weeks. He failed to break 10 seconds in his first two races this season in June before seeing his German doctor to work on his chronically balky back.

Fortunately for Bolt, nobody else is performing that well this season, either. None of his top rivals in recent years — Yohan Blake, Andre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin — have broken 9.90 seconds this season.

The Monaco field includes two of the five fastest men in the world this year — South African Akani Simbine and American Chris Belcher — and four men overall who have broken 10 seconds in 2017.


Baylor's Maxwell Willis Set To Gain Experiene In Peru

Whenever one of his athletes gets the chance to challenge himself or herself against international competition, Todd Harbour never taps the brakes.

How could he? He remembers what those opportunities meant to him.

Baylor’s head track and field coach was once a standout miler for the Bears, claiming consecutive NCAA runner-up finishes in the 1,500 in 1979, ‘80 and ’81. During the offseason of those college years, he represented his country in various international meets, traveling to far-flung locales like Germany and Russia, and he won a silver medal at the Pan Am Games in 1979.

Now it’s Maxwell Willis’s turn to show what he can do against the world. And Harbour can’t wait to see what develops.

On Friday, Willis will take aim at a world title when he opens up competition at the Pan Am Junior Championships in Lima, Peru.

Baylor’s blond-coiffed sprinter displayed blinding speed at various points during his freshman season. He turned in season-best times of 10.08 in the 100 and 20.07 in the 200, winning Big 12 freshman of the year honors. Willis also qualified for the NCAA meet in both races.

And he didn’t stop flashing those fleet feet once the college season ended. At the USA Junior Track and Field Championships in June, he won the 100-meter title to qualify for the Junior Pan Ams before pulling up with a strained hamstring in the 200 race.

“He was destroying the field in the 200, and that’s usually his better race,” Harbour said. “So the hamstring (injury) hurt. But Mike (Baylor assistant Michael Ford) feels good about where Maxwell is at right now. He’s feeling pretty solid about his progress. Of course, he has opened it up and run a race since that meet. … But if he’s on, he’s got a great shot at winning the 100 meters.”

In fact, Willis’ seed time of 10.18 ranks as the top clocking of any sprinter in the 100-meter field in Peru, fractions of a second ahead of second-place Paulo Oliveira of Brazil. Willis, 19, stands out as one of just two Americans in the 26-runner field, the other being Tarrik “T.J.” Brock of USC.

Willis barely missed out on competing in the IAAF Under-20 World Championships last summer, before enrolling at Baylor. So the fact that he’s finally getting his international shot should have a lasting impact, Harbour said.

“I know it was a life-changing experience for me,” Harbour said. “The level of competition, seeing the world, it made such an impact. In track and field, we don’t always make the most money, but these kinds of experiences are a neat thing for our kids. … For sure, it should give him some confidence, knowing he can run with the best in the world.”

Willis will open up action in the 100-meter semifinals at 8:50 a.m. Friday. (Peru has no time difference from Texas). The final is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday.

He’s not the only Baylor track athlete who will spend part of his summer competing abroad, either. Baylor sophomore Wil London will compete in the 400-meter dash at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships – against a field that rivals that of the Olympics – in London, England, on Aug. 4-13.


British Sprinter Wants To Run For Ireland At Worlds

English-born sprinter Leon Reid has penned an open letter to athletics governing body the IAAF in a desperate attempt to push through a transfer of allegiance that would allow him compete for Ireland at the upcoming World Championships.

The 22-year-old wants to run for Ireland in honour of his Irish mother, who passed away last year and, having previously represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, began the process of switching his nationality last summer.

Reid ran 20.38 seconds for the 200 metres at the British nationals earlier in July to qualify for the worlds in London next month, but with time running out before Sunday's selection deadline, Reid has issued a fresh plea to the IAAF and its president, Sebastian Coe, to push through his transfer.

Citing the recent decision to allow a further eight Russian athletes compete in London under a neutral banner, Reid wrote:

"Dear Lord Coe, I read in the news today that 8 Russian athletes originally banned from a system tainted with drugs have been approved to compete at the World Championships.

"This has prompted this open letter in an anticipative hope that you will personally look at my case and help me achieve my dreams of competing in London — like you have with these Russian athletes.

"Just over two weeks ago at the British National Championships I ran two big personal bests (one in the heat and one in the final) in the 200m. Ultimately I ran 20.38 seconds and finished third — a time quick enough to qualify me for the World Championships.

"I won’t, however, be able to take my place on the British Team because I am in the process of transferring to Ireland — an unsuccessful process that has unfortunately already taken over 12 months thus far.

"Despite running the qualifying time, matters outside of my control will jeopardise this chance — ultimately meaning I won’t be able to compete.

"I was unable to take my place on the Ireland team as my current transfer from Great Britain to Ireland has been held up as a result of the IAAF freeze of movement of athletes from one country to another.

"I am scared that with the final date for selection this Sunday 23rd July that my international transfer will not go through and I will miss out on competing in London in August.

"This is despite the transfer process starting well before the freeze came into place, and had it been handled diligently it would have been completed."

Reid, who came through the British foster care system, then discusses his dedication to his athletics career before highlighting the reasons behind his application to switch allegiance.

"My biological mother is Irish, and my foster mother is second generation Irish. I have many Irish family members and strong links and affinity to the country," Reid states.

"It has long been a dream of mine to one day compete for Ireland internationally — a decision which was ultimately made in honour of my mum who passed away last year.

"This dream became closer to a reality when I formally contacted Ireland on June 22nd 2016 to start the paperwork process. I spoke to Neil Black, Performance Director of British Athletics and he assured me British Athletics would not prevent this move.

"When an athlete moves from one country to another the new member federation (in this case Ireland) need to make a request to the current member federation (in this case British Athletics) to request confirmation on matters such as when the athlete last competed for GB and whether they would have any objections to the athlete moving.

"Ireland Athletics formally contacted British Athletics in January of this year after some contact and formalities had been concluded with the IAAF. This was done a month in advance of the transfer freeze kicking in.

"Despite having no issues with my transfer, this unfortunate failure by British Athletics in replying resulted in Ireland being powerless to push this transfer through with the IAAF."

"As an athlete that has dedicated my whole life to compete in events such as this I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to compete by right on the biggest stage.

"I have run fast enough to be in the Ireland team and I believe that a duty lies with the governing, professional or representative bodies, nationally or otherwise, to help and enable me to compete."


Lasitskene poised to defend world title as a 'neutral'

By Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Barred from international competition for nearly 17 months because of the Russian doping scandal, high jumper Maria Lasitskene could threaten the world record at the world championships next month.

Lasitskene won gold at the 2015 world championships under her maiden name Kuchina but the doping scandal that was already enveloping the sport in Beijing means she will not be wearing her country's colors when she defends the title in London.

The 24-year-old is one of 47 Russians cleared this year to compete as neutral athletes despite the ongoing suspension of the country's federation over a 2015 report that alleged state-sponsored doping.

This special status has been viewed as an affront to Russian patriotism, prompting some to question the loyalty of the athletes.

The athletes have had to prove to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that their training environment meets its anti-doping standards, and that appears to have also satisfied Lasitskene's rivals.

"I'm pretty sure there were some rigorous standards for her to have to get through to be able to compete," former world indoor champion Chaunte Lowe told Reuters.

"If she's there, I'm sure she deserves to be there."

Lasitskene said she had not "heard anything bad" and even if some of her rivals have made clear their disgruntlement in private, it has clearly not affected her form.

The former Youth Olympic champion has dominated her event this year and is unbeaten in 19 competitions, indoors and outdoors.

Earlier this month at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne she jumped a personal best of 2.06 meters, three centimeters off the world record set by Bulgaria's Stefka Kostadinova in 1987.

While the Russian authorities have deplored the absence of the country's flag from major track and field meets, they have generally supported the efforts of athletes to compete as neutrals.

"Even if she competes under the neutral flag, everyone perfectly knows that she is from Russia," Yury Borzakovsky, head coach of the national athletics squad, told Reuters.

"And she will prove to the whole world that everything has changed."

Russia has recently ramped up its efforts to overturn the bans against its athletics federation, its Paralympic Committee and its national anti-doping agency RUSADA.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month allowed RUSADA to plan and coordinate testing under the supervision of international experts, a key step for the agency to be reinstated.

The Russian government this month approved a plan to curb the use of performance enhancing drugs, while President Vladimir Putin barred dopers and their coaches from receiving Kremlin grants.

The impact of the ban on athletes like Lasitskene is undeniable, however, tearing nearly a year and half out of their careers and preventing them from competing in the Olympics and lucrative Diamond League meetings last year.

"Had there been a 2016 season, maybe the results now would be different," Lasitskene said.

"But that's a 'what-if'. We accepted this situation, trained and didn't give up."

Lasitskene is the only woman who has jumped 2.00 meters this year, clearing the height 10 times since the IAAF allowed her to compete in April.

"We have been advocating that high results can be achieved cleanly," Borzakovsky said.

"Maria is a bright example of this."

Lowe thinks Lasitskene can hit new heights in London, where she will be seeking to join Croatian Blanka Vlasic and South African Hestrie Cloete as the only women to have retained the high jump world title.

"It's like her coming of age party," the American said. "She always showed she had that talent and now she kind of went over the threshold to being known among the top high jumpers of all-time."

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Nick Mulvenney)


Bolt to run 100m and 4x100m in London farewell

Monaco (AFP) - Usain Bolt will run the 100m and 4x100m at the world championships in London next month, his final event before retiring, the Jamaican sprint star confirmed on Wednesday.

Bolt, winner of eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals, is looking to bring down the curtain on his glittering career in style at the August 4-13 event.

"My main aim is just to win (in London). I just want to retire on a winning note," Bolt said during a press conference in Monaco ahead of Friday's Diamond League meeting.

The 30-year-old revealed he would not defend his 200m world title, meaning he will not race against South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk, the athlete Bolt has tipped to take over as the next track and field superstar.

"I think that's one of the most disappointing things in my career now," said Bolt. "He came along at this late stage and I didn't get to compete against him, because I think he's one of the best now."

He added: "I'm never afraid, I live for competition. But for me it's too late now, I'm at the end of my career. We'll never know what could happen."

Bolt will compete in the 100m in Monaco -- his third race of the season after appearances in Kingston and Ostrava -- where he is hoping to dip under the 10-second barrier.

"I'm feeling good, the season started off slow for me. I had a setback after my friend Germaine (Mason) passed away," Bolt said, referring to death of the British high jumper, a 2008 Olympic silver medallist, in a motorbike crash in Jamaica in April.

"I've been a little behind schedule, but I am training well. I'm feeling much better over the past couple of days because I went to see my doctor in Germany, I've been training good so that's a good sign."

- 'It's just time' -

Bolt was adamant there was little chance he would race again after the world championships but admitted he would likely stay involved with athletics.

"I've done everything that I possibly can in this sport," he said, before alluding to a conversation he shared with American track great Michael Johnson, a four-time Olympic champion.

"I asked (him) because I was surprised when I heard he retired. I said, 'Why did you retire? You were dominating so much.' And he said, 'I've done everything I wanted to do, I've accomplished all my goals.' And that's how I feel at this point. I decided that it's just time."

Bolt added: "There's a lot of directions I could go, but one thing I know is that I'll definitely be close with track and field.

"I’ll try my best to stay as close as possible to sport, stay in sports and try to educate young athletes coming up and what it's all about to be a champion."

The Jamaican, an avid Manchester United fan, also admitted his dream of forging a professional football career after hanging up his spikes was no longer a priority.

"I really stressed that point too much... We've been looking into it and I'm really thinking about if I really want to go back into doing so much work right now," said Bolt.

"I haven't totally given up on it but it's something that I'm not really stressed about right now."


Exploring Jamaican Track & Field Dominance

Athletics Meets Science takes place on July 29 and 30

AS SOME of the finest athletes in the world arrive in London for the IAAF World Athletics Championships and excitement reaches fever pitch, many fans have realised it will be a meet tinged with sadness. Those lucky enough to attend this event will witness history, as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, the incomparable Usain Bolt, will be hanging up his spikes for the last time.

But what is it about Jamaican athletes that leave their competition in their dust? Is it genetics? Is it biology? Is it environment?

This, and many other questions will be explored at Athletics Meets Science, a two-day event in London designed to explain Jamaica’s continued dominance on the track, taking place on July 29 and 30 at the Stratford branch of the University of East London.

Prominent speakers from organisations such as the University of West Indies, Jamaica Administrative Association and many more will use the two days to discuss various factors in physical performance and excellence, from dietary habits to environmental and biometric influences. Attendees can expect an extensive insight into what makes these athletes number on in their respective sports.

Athletics Meets Science (an event produced by We Are Parable and Dr. Rachel Irving) will also feature a photo exhibition highlighting some of the key moments in Jamaica’s athletic history, allowing audiences to discover sprinting and the Caribbean go hand-in-hand and have done so for many decades.

A free screening of 2016 documentary of I am Bolt, following the star as he prepares for his final Olympics in Brazil, will also make up part of the two-day event

With topics as wide-ranging as the power of psychological mind games, to the prevention of injuries and maintaining the health of elite athletes, this one of a kind event promises to provide a comprehensive understanding and unique insight into how Jamaica has dominated the track and field world.


All eyes on Van Niekerk in Monaco

MONTE CARLO - Usain Bolt is guest of honour for the 30th birthday of the Herculis meeting in Monaco, but the invitation list for the 11th IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season is jam-packed with other athletic talent, with South Africans Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya among the high performers.

For most athletes competing at the Stade Louis II, this will be the last opportunity to sharpen up for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 from August 4-13, and to secure their place in the IAAF Diamond League finals in Zurich on August 24 or Brussels on September 1.

In what was his first 400m since winning the 2016 Olympic title in a world record of 43.03, Van Niekerk ran the fastest time of the year, 43.62, at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on July 6, having set a world 300m best of 30.81 eight days earlier in Ostrava.

The 25-year-old South African is now in that territory familiar to Bolt in that something extraordinary is expected of him every time he competes.

But he will need to be fully focused to hold off a field that includes Botswana’s sprint duo of Baboloki Thebe, who has run a personal best of 44.02 this season, and Isaac Makwala, who clocked 43.92 in Madrid last Friday, becoming the first man to run a sub-44-second 400m and a sub-20-second 200m on the same day as he clocked 19.77 for the shorter distance.

Van Niekerk had to share top billing in Lausanne with world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene (nee Kuchina), who added two centimetres to her personal best in recording 2.06m, putting her joint fifth on the world all-time list.

Olympic and world 800m champion Semenya has been unbeatable at her main distance this season, but the Monaco field includes all those most likely to challenge her.

These include the Olympic silver and bronze medallists, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, as well as Canada’s world silver medallist Melissa Bishop and the US pair of 2013 world silver medallist Brenda Martinez and US champion Ajee Wilson.

The women’s 3 000m brings together Kenya’s Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri and Britain’s European indoor 1 500m and 3 000m champion Laura Muir, 12 days after their rousing contest over the mile in London which saw Obiri set a national record of 4:16.56 and Muir register a personal best of 4:18.03.

Kenya’s Olympic 3 000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto faces a field that includes Olympic silver medallist Evan Jager of the United States and his two leading Kenyan rivals, Jairus Birech and 35-year-old double Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi.

But Kipruto’s biggest challenge may be the ankle problem that caused him to drop out early from the race in Rabat last week.

Olympic 1 500m champion Matt Centrowitz will have a rigorously testing evening against the two 21-year-olds who are the top Kenyans of the moment – Timothy Cheruiyot, who leads this season’s world list with 3:30.77, and Ronald Kwemoi, second in the world this year with a 3:30.89 at altitude as he beat Cheruiyot to the Kenyan title in Nairobi.

Also lurking in the field with something to prove is Kenya’s three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop. This track has witnessed some super-fast 1 500m times, and Friday night could add to that legacy.


Natasha Hastings Has Encouraging Message

The '400m diva' is spreading a missive of self-love and acceptance

If you were to walk past Natasha Hastings on the street, you would be forgiven for doing a double take. With long, blond cornrows, her trademark red lips and dewy skin, her candor and confidence are captivating. You’d also be forgiven for not assuming she was an Olympic runner, who competed and won gold for Team USA in the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.

Soon enough, you’ll know exactly who Hastings is and what she’s all about. The thirty-year-old track and field athlete will be starring in Under Armour’s latest campaign, Unlike Any, which aims to challenge societal stereotypes about topics including gender, race and body image. In the campaign, six athletes from different arenas perform their chosen discipline in a short film, while a poem—written specifically about them—is read by the poet who wrote it.

All of the athletes featured, including American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Misty Copeland, share inspirational stories about their journeys to success, and Hastings is no exception. From overcoming issues with her “boy” body and her depleted self-esteem, to missing out on the 2012 Olympics, her journey to success hasn’t been an easy one.

“In a track there are eight lanes; eight women out of the whole world that are doing what I do. My issues with body image are still something that sneaks in, I am still the largest girl out there. But I have to remind myself that I am still ‘at the table,’ I’m still one of the best in the world,” the athlete explained.

She continued: “There’s still always that self doubt in your mind. I’ve really had to push through that, and quiet those sounds and really go for what I want.” With her signature lipstick in place and without a single smudge (“I run every single race with a red lip!”), Hastings is working to harbor her newfound platform to spread knowledge of the USA Field and Track team, but also to profess what she’s learned about conquering those pesky inner demons. To do that, she has started her own YouTube channel, Tea Time, which tackles issues of confidence, self-love and acceptance. She’s so passionate about spreading the message that she plans on taking Tea Time on a tour across the country.

“My plan is to fill a room with adolescent girls and have influential sport stars talking and discussing issues, and how they’ve overcome adversities, to inspire young women. I want to show the diversity of women in sport, but also to show what sport can do for adolescents; it really can open doors.”

And while she is definitely not one for looking back, if she could give young Natasha any pearls of wisdom, they would be: “Be who you are, you don’t have to please anyone. You do you!”


Bolt Says No One Is Running Fast Except Women

Usain Bolt is set to run his final two races at events this week and in August before he retires. As to whom he believes might take up his throne when he’s gone, however?

“No one is really running fast at the moment,” the 30-year-old said Wednesday (via NBC Sports).

Bolt complained the younger male sprinters he’s met in competition haven’t shown much promise.

“I guess they’ll take time to mature,” he added.

In contrast, Bolt said he’s been very impressed with the female side of his sport.

“The girls have really outperformed us over the past three years,” he said. “They’ve really stepped up and been running some fast times. It’s been really competitive. I take my hat off to the girls for really competing a higher level.”

While Bolt, who has failed to break the 10-second mark in the 100-meter dash this year because of back problems, may be trying to play mind games with his competition, he’s not totally wrong.

Led by Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, who won gold in the 100-meter sprint at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last summer, several female runners clocked in at less than 10.90.

The men, meanwhile, have struggled to keep their times below 10 seconds. America’s Christian Coleman so far has put up the fastest time of the year at 9.82, far short of Bolt’s record of 9.58, set in 2009. Coleman, in fact, was the only man to break 9.90 this year, according to NBC Sports’s Nick Zaccardi, who points out “nobody has broken 9.96 outside of their home country.”

Bolt, of course, is included on that list. He’s had his slowest summer ever, clocking 10.03 and 10.06 seconds respectively at races in Jamaica and Ostrava, Czech Republic. In both cases, his times proved good enough to win.

Bolt said it “would be good to dip under 10 seconds” when he competes first in Monaco on Friday and then at the world championships in London in August.

“My aim is to win in London,” he said on Wednesday (via the BBC). “I want to retire on a winning note,”

Bolt, who plans to run the 100-meter sprint and the 4×100-meter relay, has won 13 medals at the world championships over the years, including 11 golds and two silvers.


Should The Sport Reset Its World Records?

Here’s a look at the arguments in favor of an unpopular proposal.

The final report of the European Records Credibility Project Team, endorsed by European track and field officials earlier this year, starts with a quote attributed to 14th-century poet and monk John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

It’s an appropriate reminder, given the furor sparked by the report’s recommendations, which would effectively see all track and field records from prior to 2005 downgraded from record status. The European Athletics Council has endorsed the idea, and it will now be considered by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Given how radical the proposal is, the strong reactions that have followed the announcement aren’t surprising.

In the last few weeks, I’ve taken part in a few discussions about the proposal (one, with Kara Goucher and Bonnie Ford, at FiveThirtyEight, and the other on an NPR affiliate in California). That has given me an opportunity to think about the issue and hear some contrasting perspectives, so I figured I’d share a few thoughts here.

My initial reaction to the proposal was somewhere between an eye roll and a yawn. First of all, I doubted (and still doubt) that the proposal will actually be adopted by the IAAF. Second of all, I figured, “Why bother?” What does erasing the records actually accomplish?

But after reading the proposal (the full text is available here), I became a little more sympathetic to the idea. I still don’t love it, but I think having the discussion is useful. Here’s my take on a few of the most common arguments I’ve heard against the proposal:

It tries to erase history instead of confronting it.

That’s true to some extent. But it’s worth pointing out that pre-2005 performances won’t be “erased.” They’ll still be present on all-time lists and so on; they will just no longer be considered the current world record.

The best analogy is to javelin records. The farthest throw in history is Uwe Hohn’s 104.80 meters, which was a world record when it was set in 1984. Unfortunately, when you start heaving a spear more than 100 meters in a crowded stadium, the risk of skewering a passing runner gets unacceptably high, so the specifications of the javelin were changed. The current world record of 98.48 meters is held by Jan Železný, but Hohn is still in the books.

It risks erasing some clean records and leaving some dirty ones.

That’s not just a risk, it’s a certainty. Some critics argue that the IAAF should take a more surgical approach, going after specific records where there’s reasonable evidence that they’re tainted. For example, documents released after the fall of the Berlin Wall detail the doping regimen of 400-meter record-holder Marita Koch.

But that’s neither realistic nor cost-effective—nor, perhaps more importantly, would it be likely to stand up to court challenges. The new proposal (which would likely face court challenges of its own) explicitly avoids trying to label performances as clean or dirty. Instead, the 2005 threshold is based on when anti-doping officials began freezing blood and urine samples for possible retroactive testing after world records. The rule change would recognize only records that confirm to these (and other) stricter standards, without assuming that previous records were dirty.

It robs clean athletes like [insert name of favorite athlete].

True—although which name you choose to insert in the square brackets is pretty subjective. I’ve heard a lot about marathoner Paula Radcliffe and long jumper Mike Powell, but that may simply reflect which news sources (and in which language) I read.

I’ll offer a counterpoint, though: What about the athletes who have been and continue to be robbed by not resetting the records? Consider the weight-throwing events: The men’s shot put, discus, and hammer records were set in 1990, 1986, and 1986. The first was set by an American who tested positive for steroids a few months later; the second two were set by Eastern Bloc athletes.

The corresponding women’s records were set in 1987 and 1988, by Eastern Bloc athletes. (The women’s hammer didn’t become an Olympic event until 2000, and its world record was set last year.)

Shot putter Valerie Adams, of New Zealand, is the greatest thrower of her generation—and perhaps, for all we know, of all time. She has two Olympic golds plus a silver, as well as four consecutive world championship golds.

But she ranks only 23rd on the all-time list, with a best throw 1.39 meters—an astoundingly large gap—behind the record of 22.63. Of the 22 women in front of her, 19 made their throws before 1991, and the other three have failed drug tests. How much has she lost in fame, recognition, and cold, hard cash from the fact that, when she appears on TV, her performances are measured against a yardstick that is... suspicious at best?

I should emphasize that I have no way of knowing whether the current shot put record-holder, a Soviet athlete who set the record in 1987 in Moscow, doped. Neither does the IAAF, so they can’t “fix” this problem directly—and that’s precisely the point. We don’t have individual evidence, but we have a large-scale pattern that leads to the inevitable conclusion that whole clusters of records (throws, women’s sprints) are laughable. And when the pinnacle of a sport becomes an obvious joke, it’s worth considering radical solutions.

It assumes that anti-doping is now strong enough that future records will be clean.

That seems like a ridiculous assumption (or at least wishful thinking) to me. But in the official announcement, the European Athletics Council’s president, Svein Arne Hansen, did say that the new rules would “raise the standards for recognition to a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board.”

Let’s be clear: We still don’t know if new records are clean. But in my opinion, there’s a higher probably that they’re clean than 30 years ago; and for the ones that are dirty, the doses they’re getting away with are probably smaller. It’s about progress, not perfection. (As an aside, when people argue that we’ll never completely eliminate doping so we should just legalize it, I sometimes make the analogy to shoplifting. We’ll never completely eliminate that either, but we don’t just give up and say, “Okay, everything is free.”)

In fact, the quest for absolute certainty and perfection in anti-doping can be counterproductive. Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, ran a Twitter poll last week asking whether people would accept a 5-percent false-positive rate (i.e., innocent athletes declared guilty) in exchange for being able to catch 95 percent of actual dopers.

Of the 524 votes, 70 percent said no. That’s not surprising. (The shock was that 30 percent of voters thought it would be okay to falsely boot one athlete in 20 out of the sport.) But Joyner’s point is that, in the real world, we always have to wrestle with the balance between false positives and false negatives.

If, as in the current system, we want to aim for zero false positives, then we have to accept that a lot of dopers will not get caught. If we tighten the testing thresholds, innocent people will be caught. One solution is to introduce a more graduated “traffic light” system, where anomalous (but not slam-dunk) test values lead to a missed race or a temporary suspension with no guilt implied. Cycling had a no-start rule of that sort for hematocrit before the development of an EPO test.

The world-record proposal offers a similar set of trade-offs. We’re never going to have the ability to erase 100 percent of the doped records and leave 100 percent of the clean ones unscathed. So our options are to let the status quo stand, with a significant fraction of records that everyone “knows” were achieved by cheating, or to start with a cleaner (though not perfectly clean) slate.

In the end, I still haven’t convinced myself that resetting the world records has enough benefits to outweigh the undeniable unfairness to a few, and the inevitable controversy it will cause. I suspect that imbalance—some people sort of like it, other people really, really hate it—will doom the proposal.

But in the ensuing discussion, it’s at least worth remembering that for every Paula Radcliffe, there’s a Valerie Adams. In a sense, it’s like the trolley problem in philosophy: Nobody likes to take an action that victimizes someone; but we sometimes forget than inaction also has victims.

It didn’t count as a world record, but in May Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran the fastest marathon in history, and almost broke 2 hours. He’ll go for the official world record at Berlin in late September.


Sandi Morris Wins Street Vault In Her Home Town

The party was great.

And Sandi Morris was, too.

Competing in her hometown for the first time since her days at Greenville High School nearly a decade ago, Morris cleared the third-best height by an American pole vaulter this year to win the inaugural Liberty Bridge Jump-Off Wednesday night.

Morris, who already owns the top effort by a U.S. vaulter this year, delighted a crowd of a couple thousand spectators who packed a two-block stretch of South Main Street for the “street meet” by methodically eliminating her seven competitors – four of whom rank in the top 18 in the United States in 2017 – and winning by clearing the bar at 4.75 meters, or 15 feet, 6¼ inches.

She then made three attempts at 4.86 meters (15-11¼), a figure that would have ranked as the top effort in the world in 2017. Morris came up just short on her first two attempts, then simply ducked under the bar on her third attempt when it was evident she wasn’t going to clear.

The crowd loved the effort by the 25-year-old University of Arkansas graduate, who felt good about the event, which also served as a timely tune-up for the upcoming World Championships in London, where she’ll be competing Aug. 4 and Aug. 6.

“I just wanted to come out and put on a good show for my hometown,” Morris said. “There was a lot hype, so I’m really glad that I was able to follow through and put on a good show. I had fun. That was the key, to come out and have a good time.

“I felt really great; there are just a few things I need to clean up. I’m honing my technique and my speed and all of those things in order to be my best at worlds.”

Morris, who was the silver medalist at the Rio Olympics last August, will compete in another street meet Friday night in Charlotte, then return to her current residence in Arkansas for a week before heading to London.

But Wednesday evening was essentially a fun homecoming, complete with a party on the street, with food, drinks, vendors, music, cheerleaders, a fun run and even “stick jumping” instruction for kids.

“This was definitely a special event – the first time we’ve ever done something like this in Greenville,” Morris said. “I hope to make it a yearly event every summer.”

In the men’s long jump competition, Bermuda-born Tyrone Smith won with a leap of 7.94 meters, or 26 feet, 1 inch. A three-time Olympian, he reached the finals at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jarvis Gotch, who was attempting to jump 26-8 and qualify for the World Championships, tweaked a hamstring on his first attempt and was unable to continue in the competition.


Kipchoge returns to the road at Berlin Marathon

(Reuters) - Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will make return to the road race circuit at the 2017 Berlin Marathon in September having come agonizingly close to breaking the two-hour barrier at Monza in May.

The 32-year-old opted out of defending his title at the London Marathon in April and will also miss the August world championships in London after focusing on the Nike Breaking2 project.

Kipchoge ran the quickest recorded marathon time at Monza, crossing the line in two hours and 24 seconds, though his time is not an official world record due to aspects of the event not satisfying IAAF criteria.

He will be joined on the start line in Berlin by compatriot Wilson Kipsang, who broke the official world record there in 2013.

The last six men's world records have been set at the pancake-flat course in the German capital, including the current mark of 2:02:57 by Dennis Kimetto in 2014.

Kipchoge is a former 5,000 meters world champion and his official best marathon time of 2:03:05 set in London last year is the fourth-fastest in history.

In the women's field, defending champion Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia will be joined by compatriots Amane Beriso, Gulume Tollesa and Meseret Mengistu. Gladys Cherono, the 2015 winner, will feature alongside fellow Kenyan Valary Aiyabei.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Mitch Phillips)


Monaco DL Is Reality Checkpoint For Bolt

Usain Bolt, hoping to bow out in a blaze of golden glory at next month's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in London, tops the bill in tomorrow night’s 30th anniversary Herculis meeting in Monaco - the 11th IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season.

The Jamaican icon heads into the event here knowing that important work needs to be done if that ambition is to succeed.

Victory over 100 metres, ideally in his first sub-10 second timing of the season, is what the 30-year-old eight-time Olympic champion is looking for.

But, having spent the last two weeks in Germany having his perennially troublesome back problem - he has a curvature of the spine - treated by Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, he needs to know he is able to put everything together technically in order to compete for a fourth world 100m title.

"I'm here to execute a good race, to work on a few things, to get myself perfect for when the big race comes, and that's in three weeks' time," he said.

"I'm always expecting to win - the moment you doubt there's no point showing up."

This is the last big opportunity for the athletes involved to sharpen up for the World Championships in London between August 4 and 13, and indeed to secure their place in the IAAF Diamond League finals in Zurich and Brussels.

The roster at the Stade Louis II is packed with talents such as Wayde van Niekerk, Mariya Lasitskene, Renaud Lavillenie and Caster Semenya.

In what was his first 400m since winning the Rio Olympic title in a world record of 43.03sec, South Africa's van Niekerk ran the fastest time of the year, 43.62, at the Lausanne Diamond League meeting on July 6.

He set a world 300m best of 30.81 eight days earlier in Ostrava.

The 25-year-old is now in that territory familiar to Bolt in that something extraordinary is expected of him every time he competes.

But he will need to be fully focused to hold off a field that includes the Botswana pairing of Baboloki Thebe, who has run a personal best of 44.02 this season, and Isaac Makwala, who clocked 43.92 in Madrid on July 14, becoming the first man to run a sub-44sec 400m and a sub-20sec 200m on the same day as he clocked 19.77 for the shorter distance.

Van Niekerk had to share top billing in Lausanne with Russia's world high jump champion Lasitskene, who added two centimetres to her personal best in recording 2.06m, putting her joint-fifth on the all-time lists.

Lasitskene, competing under a neutral banner due to Russia's doping-related suspension, is the only woman to have cleared 2.00m this season - and she has done it nine times.

Olympic and world 800m champion Semenya has been unbeatable at her main distance this season, but the Monaco field includes all those most likely to challenge the South African, including the Rio 2016 silver and bronze medallists, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

Canada's world silver medallist Melissa Bishop and the United States pair of 2013 world silver medallist Brenda Martinez and American Trials winner Ajee Wilson will also be in contention.

France's Lavillenie will have effective home status and support as he seeks to elevate his form to the point where he can win the world outdoor pole vault title - the only honour missing from the world record holder's CV.

The 30-year-old is also aiming to finish the season as Diamond League champion for an eighth successive time, and is the only athlete to have won the Diamond Trophy on every occasion since the new series began in 2010.

But Lavillenie, who was unable to start training for his event until mid-May because of a foot injury, has found it tough going so far this season.

His season’s best of 5.87m, achieved at Lausanne, was only enough for third place behind US winner Sam Kendricks and Poland's Pawel Wojciechowski, who both cleared 5.93.

The Pole, a surprise winner of the 2011 world title, is in outstanding form this season, free from the injuries that have dogged his career in recent years.

Kendricks, the Olympic bronze medallist, has also beaten Lavillenie at the Diamond League meetings in Shanghai, Eugene and Paris, and leads this year's world rankings with his first 6.00m jump.

Also in the equation for London are Canada's world champion Shawn Barber, Sweden's 17-year-old Armand Duplantis, who managed a prodigious 5.90 on April 1 this year, and of course the Olympic champion, Thiago Braz of Brazil.

Braz has yet to find form this season and failed to record a mark in the Rabat Diamond League meeting last week, where Wojciechowski won with 5.85.

The men’s javelin could be a similarly telling event to the men’s pole vault, given the presence of the two Germans who have seized the event by its neck in the space of the last year.

Olympic champion Thomas Rohler has been consistently in 90m territory this season, having opened with 93.90 at the Doha Diamond League.

But his place behind Jan Zelezny in the world all-time lists was taken by compatriot Johannes Vetter, who produced four 90m throws on a single night in Lucerne on July 11, the best of them being 94.44, and will be looking to make a similar statement here.

In the women’s triple jump, Colombia's 33-year-old Olympic and world champion Caterine Ibarguen will face the 21-year-old world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas for the first time since the Venezuelan beat her at the Rome Diamond League meeting.

World record holder Kendra Harrison of the US, who has run 12.28 this year, heads a 100m hurdles field that includes Australia's London 2012 champion Sally Pearson, who marked her recovery from injuries with a season's best of 12.48 at the London Diamond League meeting.

The women's 3,000m brings together Kenya's Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri and Britain's European Indoor 1,500 and 3,000m champion Laura Muir, 12 days after their rousing contest over the mile in London.

This saw Obiri set a national record of 4min 16.56sec and Muir register a personal best of 4:18.03.

Kenya's Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto faces a field that includes Rio 2016 silver medallist Evan Jager of the US and his two leading Kenyan rivals, Jairus Birech and 35-year-old double Olympic champion Ezekel Kemboi.

But his biggest challenge may be the ankle problem that caused him to drop out early from the race in Rabat last week.


Oregon's Rhesa Foster Set For Pan-Am Juniors

The 2017 track and field season is far from over for a handful of current or recently departed Oregon athletes.

Former sprinters Deajah Stevens and Kyree King, as well as sophomore Ariana Washington, are preparing for their trip to London in August for the IAAF World Outdoor Championships.

Junior long jumper Damarcus Simpson, who was third at the U.S. championships in Sacramento in June, is hoping to join them as he continues his pursuit of the qualifying standard of 26 feet, 9 inches before Monday’s deadline.

Competing first, however, is freshman Rhesa Foster, who is entered in the women’s long jump at the Pan American Junior Championships in Lima, Peru, on Friday.

It will be a travel party of one for Foster, 19, who was the only current Duck to qualify for the Pan Am Junior meet during the U.S. Junior Championships, also in Sacramento in June. She will be joined by a few future teammates in Peru — incoming freshmen Cooper Teare (men’s 1,500), Joseph Anderson (110 hurdles) and West Salem grad Keira McCarrell (women’s javelin, heptathlon), who competes for Canada.

“I’m very excited and I feel pretty good considering the long season,” said Foster, who is no stranger to international competition, having won a bronze medal during the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, when she was 16. “I’m used to running over the summer, just not at these high levels of competition, but it’s fun.”

Foster came to Oregon with other credentials, as well as a track pedigree.

She won the 2016 California state championship in the long jump as a senior at North Clovis High, and in 2014 she was the AAU Junior Olympics Champion in the long jump, 200 and 100 hurdles.

During those years she was coached by her father, Robert Foster, an Olympic hurdler in 1996 and 2000 for Jamaica.

“He definitely pushes me to be my very best,” Foster said. “He had always been my track coach up until I left for college. … He definitely knows what it takes to be at the top. My coaches are doing a great job, but sometimes I need sort of that mental help, just to have someone to talk to to figure out what’s going on.”

Foster’s first season as a Duck didn’t start to take flight until late in the outdoor season, beginning with her victory at the Pac-12 Championship meet in May with a mark of 20-6 1/2.

“That was probably one of the best points in my season in terms of how I felt in my workouts,” Foster said. “I felt really good, I was healthy, I wasn’t struggling with any injuries, which is something that I was worried about coming in. In the past, in high school, I always struggled with injuries, but this year I didn’t have any injuries.”

Foster followed her performance at the Pac-12 meet by jumping a wind-aided (20-11  3/4 at the NCAA West Preliminary meet to qualify for nationals.

Back home at Hayward Field, Foster jumped 19-4 3/4 in the NCAA outdoor meet for 20th place.

“I came into the year with the mindset that I didn’t want people to look at me as ‘She’s just a freshman’ and not to expect a lot from me,” Foster said. “I came to Oregon to win, so I went to practice every day and did my best, and whatever I had that day I gave it my all. … I think I had a pretty solid season. I wouldn’t say I met all my goals this season. There is a lot of room for growth so I’m excited with the potential that I see in myself.”

In Foster’s practice group were newcomers Simpson and triple jumper Chaquinn Cook, a pair of transfers who had successful seasons in their own right. Cook won a Pac-12 title and Simpson had his podium finish at the U.S. outdoor meet.

“It’s kind of frustrating to be around people who have already been there because they know what’s going on already and they know what’s expected,” Foster said. “With Chaquinn and Damarcus, it was a little easier and a little more manageable mentally because you’re with other people who are adjusting just as much as you are.”

Foster is also drawing inspiration from the Oregon group headed to London to compete on track and field’s biggest stage of the season.

“I think it’s pretty cool to have so many people on this team who are so successful,” Foster said. “To see where a lot of them came from gives me hope. Everybody starts somewhere … with time and work I can definitely get to where they are. And I don’t believe I am too far off from that either. Next year I’m really excited to see what I can do.”


Eight more Russians allowed to compete despite doping ban

ZURICH (Reuters) - The world athletics body has approved eight Russians to compete as neutrals but declined the applications of a further 53 competitors hoping to be awarded a similar status, the IAAF said on Thursday.

Russia's national athletics federation (RUSAF) remains suspended as a result of widespread and systematic doping, meaning that the majority of the country's athletes will miss next month's world championships in London.

Russian athletes can, however, apply to compete as neutrals provided they meet stringent criteria.

IAAF guidelines say that this includes showing they are not directly implicated "in any way by their national federation's failure to put in place adequate systems to protect and promote clean athletes".

The IAAF said in a statement that it had approved 47 applications this year and rejected 109, including those announced on Thursday. It did not name the athletes whose applications were declined.

"From the beginning, we have declared this process was about supporting the hopes and aspirations of all clean athletes, including Russian athletes who have been failed by their national system," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

The eight athletes accepted on Thursday included 31-year-old hammer thrower Sergei Litvinov, a bronze medallist at the 2014 European championships who previously competed for both Belarus and Germany.

They also included men's 2013 European under-23 high jump champion Ilya Ivaniuk and Alayna Lutkovskaya, the 2014 junior women's pole vault world champion.

The participation of all athletes was still subject to formalities and acceptance by individual meeting organisers, the IAAF said.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O'Brien)