The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Searching for a Gym

Over the last ten years I've apparently been spoiled when it comes to gyms. In the small college city where I used to live, there was the university's rec center, a city-run rec center, and literally just two other gyms in the entire city. The one where we had a membership was on the opposite side of town, which meant it took five minutes to get there. And we paid a whopping $40 a month.

In our new place of residence, the old-town part of a large and sprawling suburb, no such luck. Mrs. Superfan has a rundown on the adventure of trying to find a suitable site to hoist iron.

Note: You may recall "YMCA" as the Village People's biggest hit, and that the almost-true story of their creation, "Can't Stop the Music", starred '76 Olympic decathlon champ Bruce Jenner. "Can't Stop the Music" is considered one of the worst films ever made; Jenner was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award in the "Worst Actor" category (inexplicably won that year by Neil Diamond).

A beginning

Promotional Nike poster: free

24 inch by 36 inch poster frame: $19.95 plus tax

First thing that makes my basement bar feel like a real sports bar: priceless

2007 Roundup

The IAAF has its reviews:
Sprints - Middle Distance - Long Distance - Road/Walks - Hurdles - Jumps - Throws - Multis

The EAA has even more

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best (and Worst) of the Year, Part 2

Best newcomer: Donald Thomas

Least honest moment: Marion Jones' "confession"

Most tragic moment: Ryan Shay

Cement-noggin officials award: Paris Golden League steeplechase lap counters

The Track & Field Superfan's Best Moment (aka best thing I saw live & in-person): The battle to the finish at the NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country championships
Honorable mention: Tyson Gay at the USATF meet

Best example of why to tell your coach about injury pain:

Worst example of backbone: British Olympic Association

Best example of why one-off selection meets scare the hell out of Olympic advertisers:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best of the Year, Part 1

The Superfan's picks for the best for a track fan...

Best in "print" journalism: SI's Tim Layden. He wrote daily at both the USA and World championships plus a few other times. He really gets what track is all about and also has a firm grip on sports' drug problem.

Best in video format: The Worlds coverage by Versus/NBC. Two hours daily, with a minimum of the fluff that drives us all nuts. They also appear ready to cut the abominable Carol Lewis free in favor of Ato Boldon, the best on-air talent to cover track in quite some time. This bodes very well for the coming year of the Trials and Olympics.

Best book: Jeremy Schaap's Triumph got good press coverage. It's a good book but the true fan learns little he didn't already know. Tommie Smith's Silent Gesture has a cool cover photo and that's where it ends.

No, the best book of the year was C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America. It covers the not-quite-famous 1928 Transcontinental Foot Race (aka the "Bunion Derby") and the myriad cast of characters involved. Far and away the most fascinating was the race's promoter, C.C. Pyle, who might be described as a combination of Arli$$, P.T. Barnum, and Don King--colorful, entertaining, and totally untrustworthy; he could be considered the architect of today's big-money sports machines. It's a bit out-of-the-way, but most bookstores have it and a bigger library might have a copy. You won't put it down.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Anti-Doping News

Most every paper in the country ran a short wirestory on Marion Jones today. Most didn't go much beyond saying this:
Marion Jones used several different performance-enhancing drugs over a substantial period of time, according to a detailed doping calendar that was part of several pages of court documents released Friday.
The San Francisco Chronicle tells us a bit more.
To demonstrate the extent of Jones' use of banned drugs, the government filed a set of doping calendars and ledgers that were seized in a raid on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame in 2003.

An accompanying affidavit by IRS criminal investigator Jeff Novitzky said the documents showed Jones regularly used the undetectable BALCO designer steroid known as "the clear," along with human growth hormone, insulin and the blood-doping drug erythropoietin, or EPO. To ensure that she could beat tough Olympic drug tests, Jones had her blood tested for steroids by a private laboratory, the documents showed.
Most sports fans read this as merely info that Jones was doping, which we all knew already. The Chronicle actually does an unusually good job of journalism by carefully explaining why this info has come out: Jones is being sentenced for perjury, and the documents show that she "engaged in a concentrated, organized, long-term effort to use these substances for her personal gain, a scenario wholly inconsistent with anything other than her denials being calculated lies."

So over at the T&FN message board, attack dog Epelle actually posted the documents referred to above. Those calendars are not news; we knew about them some four years ago. But back then Jones' defenders said they could have been created by anyone who had it in for her. To say that now is ludicrous; federal prosecutors don't take risky items to trial as evidence.

But in the bigger picture, it should be noted that the number of times bold accusations of doping are made and do not ultimately turn out to be true are few and far between. Back in the 1986-88 time period, Carl Lewis made statements about steroid use that in retrospect could only have been directed at Ben Johnson. At the time he took a lot of flack for it, but he turned out to be right and I can't recall anyone apologizing to him about the whole thing. And this is only one example.

Friday, December 21, 2007

In The Bleachers, Tank McNamara



Track & Field News annual awards

T&FN has finally gotten the idea of the internet. GH and the gang used to be afraid their mag would be scooped by the newfangled series of tubes. This year they're instead using it to pimp the 61st annual Annual Issue. Yesterday they announced Athlete of the Year top tens (Tyson Gay & Meseret Defar took the top honorses); today they did U.S. Athlete of the year top tens (Gay & Allyson Felix); Sunday they'll do #1-ranked athletes in each event, and Monday they'll to event-by-event top tens. The real fans will want the annual issue in print for all the nitty-gritty details and explanations, and others won't care enough to pick it up anyway. But now they at least called some attention to themselves and built anticipation.

The only award T&FN isn't putting on the web is the Performances of the Year. It's not an award they do much with; you won't see a summary of past year's leaders on their website and I can't recall ever seeing it in the mag. But I gots to have me historical data. So I took a trip down to the university library and I think I've got a complete listing of annual men's POY rankings (five deep) compiled in this Google spreadsheet.

Some background info is in order. T&FN first picked a POY in 1959 (the year they began the AOY honors). The first year I know of anything beyond first place was 1966, when they also picked some honorable mentions. The practice was discontinued after a few years, but starting in 1973 the voting results have been published in each Annual Issue.

Some trivia: Scoring on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, leaders are Sergey Bubka (23), Carl Lewis (19.5), Edwin Moses (18.5), Haile Gebrselassie (18.33 plus any earned this year), and Michael Johnson (14). . .The Greatest of All Time, Lewis, never had a POY winner. . .No one has ever had three POY winners; only Bubka, Johnson, Said Aouita, Jim Ryun and Liu Xiang have had more than one. . .The highest-scoring event is the 10k (49 5/6 pts), the lowest is the 20k walk (1/2 pt).

I've only compiled the men's rankings. This is due to sexism, but not on my part. T&FN didn't start doing an Annual Issue for women until 1980. Prior to that the job was done by Women's Track & Field World magazine (which finally folded that year), and back in the 50's and early 60's rankings were published privately by Czech statman Jan Popper. If you think finding a library with early holdings of T&FN is difficult, WT&FW is harder on an order of magnitude. Compiling such errata for women is an ongoing project.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sports Bar

For the last two weeks I've been working more or less nonstop on my new house. I've had precious little time to blog or much else (I've missed more days of running in the last 3 weeks than I have all year). So this post is, understandably, about the house.

I moved out of my college town of Bowling Green and into Sylvania, a suburb of Toledo located right on the state line. The move was neccessitated by my wife graduating with her Ph.D. and gaining employment in Ann Arbor (we decided to stay in Ohio so I could keep my job and to remain close to family). Anyway, we moved out of a rather ordinary 3-bedroom 1928 Sears & Roebuck house and into an almost identical 1927 home. We loved the house the moment we saw it, but one detail sealed the deal for me. It has a finished basement with a bar.

I've fantasized about a basement bar for a long time. My plan is to rig it up as "The Bell Lap", the nation's only track & field-themed sports bar. As of yet, my plan hasn't gone much beyond putting up a Hayward Field panoramic photo print and having friends over to watch a lot of track. I'll keep the teeming millions updated with progress reports from time to time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anti-Doping News

Official pronouncements are that "there has been widespread anabolic steroid use" in the sport for an extended period of time and that "everyone involved...shares to some extent the responsibility for the steroids era". Some athletes were given a heads-up to drug tests. The problem wasn't isolated to one group. The suggested remedy is an outside and independent agency with the ability to investigate even in the absence of a positive test.

Sounds familiar? Nope, it's not about track. It's former senator George Mitchell's report on baseball. In one year, baseball gets to feel all the pain that track has had in dribs and drabs every year since the Carter administration.

Various media outlets are expressing some degree of surprise that Roger Clemens was named as a long-term doper. To those with a grip on reality, it's as much of a surprise as finding out that the government lies and people cheat on their taxes. One of the physical laws of baseball (as proven by Bill James) is that players' performance drops off in their 30s and the dropoff accelerates as they approach 40. Clemens' high levels of performance late in his career is as unnatural as that of Barry Bonds. The only difference is that Bonds is a jackass and Clemens is not; the press gave Clemens a free pass while Bonds' bad attitude more or less began the BALCO investigation.

At least ESPN had the class to put John Kruk on their news coverage; I can't possibly imagine that fat tub of goo using something designed to help him work out harder.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy Retirement, Sid Sink

Raise a glass to the man of the evening.

I first met Sid in the fall of 1988. I was a high school senior who was being recruited by Bowling Green State University. Not for athletics--I wasn't any good--but for academics, as I was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. The recruiter found out that I wanted to walk on to the cross country and track teams, so she arranged for me to have lunch with the coach. That lunch taught me everything you need to know about this man.

I thought it was a very big deal that the head coach was going out of his way to meet me. Now I know that Sid simply doesn't turn down a meal on someone else's dime. But while taking advantage of this opportunity, Sid paid attention to me and my interests even though it was obvious I would never help his team. All the years I was on his team and afterwards as well, Sid has always had time for me because he never saw athletes as mere cogs in a sports machine but as real people.

At lunch that day I made a bit of a faux pas. I gushed "Weren't you in the Olympics?", to which Sid replied a short, clipped "no". I thought I'd offended him because I confused him with BGSU teammate Dave Wottle. In fact, Sid was easily good enough to have been a 1972 Olympian; in 1971 he was NCAA and AAU steeple champ, a Pan-Am silver medalist, and set an American record. But sciatica severely hampered his training in '72 and he finished a well-beaten ninth in the steeple trials. He bravely came back and attempted to make the team in the 5000, not his best event, and came up just short in a late charge.

That exchange actually showed that Sid really doesn't feel a need to talk about himself or his own accomplishments; he's quite modest. But it also showed why I and my teammates enjoyed running on his teams. He was still irked by that episode some sixteen years later because of a personalioty trait every speaker tonight talked about--his tremendous competitive desire. Whatever it took to do his best was what he was going to do, and real competitors appreciate that. Thanks, Sid.

I came to Bowling Green the next fall and never left until now. I think it's fate that the movers came to my house this morning, the very same day that we celebrated the end of Sid's 40-year attachment to the University. With the exit of Sid, no one with any connections to the BGSU men's track program is left here. They said they couldn't afford men's track, cut it, and proceeded to spend $2.2 million on a stadium upgrade, $800,000 on artificial turf, and $7.4 million on an athletic center. Yesterday they announced plans for a $38 million "convocation center", aka basketball arena. But they still can't afford men's track.

Yep, it's time for me to go.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SI Sports"man" of the Year

In the leadup to naming their 54th annual Sportsman of the Year on December 3rd, Sports Illustrated's writers are posting columns about the nominees. You can even make your own comment (not that it will make any difference). Track's entries so far are Paula Radcliffe and Allyson Felix.

The latter column, by the usually-excellent Tim Layden, lapses so far into the realm of the ordinary that I half expected to read that "the night was sultry". I'll excuse it because 1,000 words is not enough to sum up what Felix has done this year athletically, and what she could conceivably do for the professional end of the sport in the future. In a nutshell: more reliable than Alan Webb, more camera-friendly than Tyson Gay, more trustworthy than Marion Jones, and just might become as good as Michael Johnson.

I have not posted much lately, even on my most excellent (as usual) trip to the NCAA cross country championships. This is because I'm moving next week. It's difficult to believe that I've accumulated this much crap in the ten years I've lived in this house...So my next post will probably not be up for at least a week.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NCAA XC Preview

I'll be in attendance at Monday's Division I championships in Terre Haute.

TV coverage:
CSTV (live), Monday at noon

Web coverage:
Coaches' association website (via CSTV), live Monday at noon

All the basic info is at the coaches' association's "Championship central"
meet website -- entry lists -- final polls
Tribune-Star preview -- CSTV preview

Let's Run's predictions

Men's race (begins at 12:08 PM)
The team favorite is Oregon, with Colorado, Iona, UTEP and Wisconsin figured as the major contenders. Personally I always figure for Colorado to beat their pre-meet ranking, and since they're #2 right now I guess I'd have to make them my pick to win.

As far as individuals go, that's always a more wide-open race. Lopez Lomong has already had a full-page story in USA Today and been featured on HBO's Real Sports; he's got serious 800m speed, so he will win a kicker's race. But these things rarely come down to a kick. Galen Rupp is a strong runner and Nike's favorite son; he'd be considered a co-favorite. Josh McDougal recorded the fastest time at pre-nats, which is less impressive than it sounds--don't bet the farm on him. Patrick Smythe of Notre Dame is a sentimental favorite after the death of Ryan Shay, but emotion alone is not enough for a national title. The essential elements to win this race are talent, conditioning, and big brass balls. Lomong will win.

Women's race (begins at 12:58 PM)
Stanford is the overwhelming favorite to win here; Oregon might be their only real challenger.

As far as the individuals go, Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech has been so dominant that no one realistically expects her to be challenged. Last year's runner up, Colorado's Jenny Barringer, was 14 seconds in arrears to Kipyego at the regional. If anyone could beat the Kenyan, it would be Barringer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

High School "heroics"


My brother just passed this along to me. Worth a read, and a useful warning to young runners with sore lower legs.

Anti-Doping News

Bonds indicted on perjury charges. I wish this had happened a few months ago--even just one home run shy of 755.

Notable: "Shortly after the indictment was handed up, Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was ordered released after spending most of the past year in prison for refusing to testify against his longtime friend." I guess he's ready to talk.

Discuss: old farts -- young punks

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New York City Marathon recap

Men:
1. Martin Lel (Kenya), 2:09:04
2. Abderrahim Goumri (Morocco), 2:09:16
3. Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa), 2:11:25
4. Stefano Baldini (Italy) 2:11:58
5. James Kwambai (Kenya) 2:12:

Women:
1. Paula Radcliffe (UK), 2:23:09
2. Gete Wami (Ethiopia), 2:23:32
3. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia), 2:26:13
4. Lidiya Grigoryeva (Russia) 2:28:37
5. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) , 2:29:08

Full results

Details? Read 'em here:
AP story
IAAF story
ABC News
Race Results Weekly

My thoughts on the New York City marathon...

While NBC did a pretty good job with their 1-hour race recap, it's just not enough. I remember back when ABC did live coverage of the whole thing, and not only did it make marathoning look cool as hell, it made Brooklyn look like an awesome place to live. Kudos to them for pioneering a rather simple innovation--showing splits for each of the previous five miles all at once. Maybe we can get lap splits like this on the track...

When Gete Wami was tracking Paula Radcliffe all the way through Central Park, I thought "We've seen this before--this will be fairly decisive when it comes". Then Wami stepped on the accelerator and...nothing happened. She ran out of gas and Radcliffe destroyed her. Coming on the heels of a long layoff, Radcliffe has now pretty much removed all doubt as to who is the greatest female marathoner of all time.

In preparation for next summer's Olympics, today's race is both a good and a bad sign for Radcliffe. While she raced very well, she also reaffirmed that she is mentally incapable of allowing anyone to run in front of her for even a few steps, and I think that inability to wait and hold back was her undoing in Athens. In a big-city invitational, there are only a few other superstars and pretenders are almost completely absent. In Radcliffe's single Worlds victory, the field was a bit thin and the weather didn't penalize an agressive start. But in Beijing, every good runner will be there and the conditions will kill off anyone who runs the first part of the race foolishly. For that race I wouldn't put down a wager on Radlciffe unless I got 20-1 odds, and I'd take even money on her DNF-ing again.

World Marathon Majors champs:
Men, Robert Cheruyiot (80 pts)
Women, Gete Wami (80 pts)

Did the series accomplish its goals? Without it, Wami would not have doubled back from Berlin, and today's women's race would have been anything but a race. I also think the emphasis on competition rather than time allowed Boston and New York to do away with rabbits (as the courses aren't time-friendly anyway) which in turn created far more interesting finishes. Yeah, I think the five major marathons definitely raised their profiles and professional marathoning as well.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Olympic Trials Marathon recap


1. Ryan Hall, 2:09:02 (OT record)
2. Dathan Ritenhein, 2:11:07
3. Brian Sell, 2:11:40
4. Khalid Khannouchi, 2:12:34

Details? Read 'em here:
Full results
AP story
IAAF story
USATF athlete quotes
Let's Run live discussion

My thoughts on the men's marathon Olympic trials...

NBC's recap did not give the race enough time to do it justice. We got a few minutes of the 5-man lead pack at halfway, then Hall breaking away at 17 miles, and then the finish. We did not get to see Brian Sell make his move into third, we did not get to see Abdirahman and Keflizighi crater.

In retrospect, Hall should have been an obvious choice to win. Ignoring the clearly over-the-hill Khannouchi, he had the best qualifying time. As a relative newcomer to marathoning, he's still on the upswing (a very short period of time for marathoners). As a 4:00 miler in high school, he's obviously got the most talent. And based on high school accomplishments, Ritz was the second-most talented athlete in the field.

Doesn't Sell just have the coolest damn mustache you've ever seen? Love the 70's badass look. Clearly, it made the difference between earning an Olympic spot or being left behind.

The Hanson ODP finally has an Olympic marathoner.

Local Ohio boy Joshua Ordway of Holgate ran extremely well to end up 21st.

The webcast could have been done better by amateurs.

Tragedy


After this morning's Olympic Trials webcast debacle, I shut down the computer and went out for a run. I wanted to avoid any spoilers before watching NBC's half-hour race recap. I planned to write up a nasty letter and send it to USATF, the USOC, NBC Sports, and their sponsors.

At 2:00 I turned on the TV and was shocked by the news: Ryan Shay, one of the favorites to make the team, collapsed 5 1/2 miles into the race and died almost immediately.

The news may have caused Let's Run's message board to partially crash. T&FN has a more easily read discussion. News stories: AP, USA Today, NBC, USATF, Runner's World, ESPN, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, New York Times, Let's Run discussion, and SI's always-excellent Tim Layden.

Details are still sketchy. He dropped back early, then stopped and attempted to sit down but fell face-first into the pavement. CPR and emergency transportation were given immediately but Shay was pronounced dead on arrival at Lenox Hill Hospital at 8:46 a.m. No word yet on any cause of death; an autopsy is scheduled for tommorrow.

A moment of silence was held prior to the beginning of today's Notre Dame football game, as Shay was a 2002 graduate of that university. He leaves behind newlywed wife Alicia (nee Craig). Parents Joe and Susan were not in attendance as two runners of theirs at Central Lakes (MI) HS were competing at the Michigan championships this morning.

My anger at NBC Sports for doing such a piss-poor job of broadcasting the most important and popular American road race in any four-year period has been put into perspective and muted. In respect, I will put it off for a day.

Olympic Trials, Men's marathon

It appears the Trials webcast is far more popular than the idiots at 30 Rock expected. MediaZone is overloaded and I cannot get in--it doesn't appear that anyone can.. The Let's Run live thread doesn't have a single person getting video as yet, and even the message board is slowing down and occaissionally crashing. No trouble at Track & Field News--no one goes to their site (and no one seems to be trying to watch, either).

NBC (and possibly the NYRRC) have a huge PR bust on their hands, plus the network lost out on a big ratings opportunity by deciding not to broadcast the race. This probably would have set a Saturday morning ratings record on MSNBC or CNBC.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This week's Sports Illustrated has an interesting piece on Alberto Salazar, the former star runner turned Nike coach.
In 2001, with several million dollars from Nike, Salazar launched the Oregon Project, a challenge to the African hegemony in distance running. The program brought to Beaverton a handful of promising U.S. runners and gave them every legal advantage extant, from space-age training aids to the amenities of the Nike campus, which include a fitness center, testing labs, a two-mile wood-chip trail and the soft grass field on which Salazar would eventually collapse. But four years later the Oregon Project had produced only one moderately successful runner, Dan Browne, a 2004 U.S. Olympian in the 10,000 meters and the marathon. The lesson, Salazar says, is that "you can't take mediocre runners and expect them to achieve world-class results."
Some might instead argue that you can't expect someone to be a great coach merely because he was a great athlete and has buckets of cash to throw around. After all, a certain Kiwi maintained that "champions are everywhere, all you have to do is train them properly". Now Salazar is working with Josh Rohatinsky and the Gouchers and getting pretty good results, but it's not like these runners didn't have things going well before Salazar started coaching them.

When the article turned towards religion--an important part of Salazar's life and his runners' as well--Salazar made an interesting statement. "[Rohatinsky] just does what he's told, completely on faith. Like a good Catholic, he believes that others are put in authority over you and you trust in them." Yet every good coach I've ever heard of actually stressed the exact opposite. Lydiard thought one of America's great downfalls in distance running was obedience to authority. "If your coach can't tell you why you are doing a particular workout, get yourself another coach", he said on many occaissions. And even if a coach can earn a position of absolute authority, Salazar hasn't come remotely close.

Discuss the article

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Weekend Preview

This coming weekend is a big one for marathoning, with the USA men's Olympic Trials on Saturday and the almost-an-afterthought New York City race on Sunday.

The start of the trials will be on NBC's Today Show at 7:35 AM and the network will have a half-hour recap show at 2:00 PM. Live online coverage will be at MediaZone.com.

Sunday's New York City marathon will be live ONLY online; outside the US you can get it for free at WCSN, but in the states you must shell out $5 to MediaZone. NBC will have highlights from 3:00 to 4:00 PM that afternoon. Too bad; some of my earliest memories of track & field were from watching the NYC marathon--to this day, when I'm running in a city park in rainy weather, I still imagine I'm Rod Dixon.

Previews? There are tons. Among the best is, surprisingly, Runner's World (the print mag is little more than craven Yuppie bootlicking, but their website is decent). Other good previews are at NBC Sports, Let's Run, New York Road Runners, and of course T&FN's headlines section has links to just about every other media source. (Yes, USATF has a trials site, but don't bother.)

In a race like the trials, third is as good as first and fourth is as good as last. Who will those three be? I'm terrible at predicting, but I will say that a dark horse always comes through. I'll be shocked if it comes down to only the four favorites (Abdirahman, Hall, Keflezighi and Sell) going for the three spots.

In the one Trials race I saw live (Columbus '92), favorites Steve Spence and Ed Eyestone came through. The dark horse was Bob Kempainen, who was running just the second marathon of his career. If I were to pick one, I'd go with Josh Rohatinsky, who doesn't have the benefit of any marathon experience at all (and only has a single half-marathon to his credit).

The New York City marathon is so devoid of top US men's talent that a friend of mine with a 2:57 PR is seeded 536th out of nearly 40,000 entrants. But the women's race should be a doozy. You've got World Marathon Majors players Gete Wami, Jelena Prokopcuka, Catherine "The Great" Ndereba, and Lidiya Grigoryeva. The inaugural women's crown will come down to Wami and Prokopcuka, but even more interesting is the return of Paula Radcliffe, who has never been beaten in a marathon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another blogger

Epelle, of the Track & Field News message board fame, has a blog that I've only now been made aware of. Coming up on one year old, it's quite good. Check it out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tank McNamara takes on Marion Jones

Sorry if they're a bit small to read easily (this is as big as Blogger makes it). Click on the strip for a larger version.




from In The Bleachers







Anit-Doping opinion piece

Generally I can’t stand opinion articles from college newspapers—they’re almost always horribly written. But this one from the Harvard Crimson is pretty well done, at least on its surface.

If sports are entertainment to you, PEDs are a welcome improvement—heck I wouldn’t mind seeing 600 foot home runs more often, especially given the disputed nature of alleged negative effects of some PED’s. But if sports are something sacred to you, then this potentially widespread impurity must be disconcerting.
This writer clearly understands why sports fans are so deeply troubled by doping. If sports were no more than mere entertainment, then whether the people using steroids were athletes in the Olympics or actors in Hollywood wouldn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to anyone. But it does, because sports have such a a far deeper meaning to sports fans.

Yet I disagree with the central thesis of the column, that we should forgive doping because athletes simply want to win so badly:

When you approach the steroid issue from the standpoint of incentives, the real moral of the story is that athletes are just like us. The same way we all jeopardize our health up by staying up late to study, athletes are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. And just like many of us work so hard because this what the Goldmans and the McKinseys want, athletes will say this is what their fans, their coaches, and their teammates want. Combine these more abstract incentives with the fact that there are millions of dollars on the line, and it’s reasonable that somewhat excessive measures could come into play.
I do not believe that the majority of athletes who do use performance-enhancing drugs really want to, or that they are doing it to become champions. Rather, they are convinced that everyone else is doing it and they simply cannot be left at a competitive disadvantage (as they say, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight). This is the exact reasoning cited by Charlie Francis when Ben Johnson got busted; he famously said "If anyone is clean, it's going to be the losers".

The biggest source of the problem did not come from the athletes themselves (workers) but from sport leadership (management). For a very long time, there was nothing more than lip-service paid to doping control.
WADA chief Dick Pound has claimed former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch tried to sweep doping under the carpet to protect IOC interests.

"Samaranch wasn't interested in the issue," Pound told Reuters in a telephone interview.
...
Pound said were it not for the 1998 Festina team cycling scandal at the Tour de France, where officials found a carload of performance-enhancing drugs and police raided team hotels to find more drugs, things would not have changed.
Recall that Ben Johnson's name was leaked by testers who feared the news would never see the light of day. And why not look the other way? Leaders such as Samaranch or MLB owners stood to lose nothing but their honor (and even then only momentarily) and stood to gain everything they’d ever hoped for.

The athletes were (and still are) the ones taking the big risks, both with their careers and their lives. It is no different than, for example, a mining company owner enticing rank-and-file workers with the opportunity for a few of them to get well-paying jobs if all of them ignored safety rules. Viewed from this perspective, it makes sense that a former senior aide to Pres. Reagan wrote an op-ed piece for the Cato Institute critical of doping control titled "Busybodies on Steroids".

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mind the Gap

My sister-in-law is a bartender. When one of her regulars failed to show up at the bar for three days, the manager sent people to his house to see if he was dead. I figure I'd better post something to keep the same from happening to me.

From The Onion sports section:

This Week In Sports History

1968: U.S. Olympic Committee suspends Tommie Smith and John Carlos for making fists and then raising them above their heads.


As usual, The Onion is funny but also pretty much on the mark.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

End of My Holdout

I have posted rarely recently. The major international action is over for the year, but also I've been very busy. I'm coaching the boys' cross country team at the school where I teach, and I've also been trying to sell my house (a six-pack says I get an offer before the week is out).

My home for almost the entirety of the last eighteen years has been the college town of Bowling Green, Ohio. My wife defends her doctoral dissertation next Monday, and five weeks ago she got a good job in Ann Arbor, a good 90 minute drive from here. Originally the plan called for moving to Ann Arbor, because why wouldn't you live in the greatest city in the Midwest if you had the chance?

For someone with a mathematics degree, it's odd how many of my life's important decisions have been made irrationally, and that I'm OK with it. My wife and I are both from Toledo (where I've been employed for the last 13 years) and a few weeks back we started talking about how Toledoans rarely move away because we're all so family-oriented. Within fifteen minutes we'd reversed ourselves, quit looking for housing in Ann Arbor, started looking in the Toledo area, and had our heart set on a specific house. We'll be closing on it in three weeks, with possession due 15 days later. My wife will be stuck with a 40-minute commute, while mine will go from its current 35 minutes down to a measly ten.

Track & field actually had a hand in this. I picked up coaching a year ago when I was asked but didn't take the long view, figuring I'd be gone in another year. When this season rolled around I thought I'd be gone by January. My team is mostly freshmen with only one senior and to say they're not very good is being charitable. But a funny thing happened; I didn't want to leave these kids behind.

The athletes on my team were slow starters--summer workouts were spotty and they were clueless about what it was going to take to race even decently. Still, their improvement has been huge, and now they're really charged up, asking me about what to do over the winter and thinking big about next year. They're your basic goofy 14- and 15-year-olds and all get along very well, some of them the best of friends.

After teaching for all these years, I thought I was an expert on high schoolers and what being a teenager is all about, and where I missed something I got reminded by shows like Freaks and Geeks or movies like The Breakfast Club. But I forgot a big thing, maybe the biggest. While driving home the other day I heard an old song on the radio that sang about "walking and talking and laughing about, dreaming the things that you want will work out". And I realized that's exactly what these boys are doing. The best possible thing adolescents can have is an idea of the future as wide open and the belief that whatever they want to happen can happen. When they share it with their friends it's even better. Not every teenager gets to feel this way, and those who do are still so mired in all the other crap they have to go through that we adults forget all about it. But we shouldn't. It's the magic of youth.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Jones fallout

The chatter on the message boards and in the press is full of shock and disappointment. Come on, folks. This is as surprising as if O.J. came out and admitted he killed his wife.

Or, more accurately, if he admitted that he only killed Ronald Goldman. Jones' admission is strangely narrow, covering just a two-year period. There was no spike in her performance that might indicated heavy PED use just then (although in 2001 she occaissionally was beatable). Most likely, her admission was just enough to cover deal with perjury issues and nothing more. It's entirely possible that her whole career has been boosted; she holds world records for 15- and 16-year olds but went out and hired Johnny Cochran to defend her from a missed-test sanction when she was in high school.

In his post 5 questions about Marion, Clay Parker asks "If Marion (with her talent) was using and "only" running 10.8s in '99 and '00, what does that say for everyone else that has run 10.8s or better. Are there any clean times in the top 20 ?" Leaving aside the issue of whether Clay meant 10.80 or 10.89, let's actually examine this.

Prior to the advent of random out-of-competition testing in 1990 and the '91-'92 fall of the eastern European governments that carried out doping, it's fair to simply say that the rules of competition were different. It was pretty easy to get around doping tests and even the positives were sometimes scrubbed. Tossing them all out removes some who were certainly on something (e.g. Marlies Göhr) along with some who were generally thought not to be (e.g. Evelyn Ashford) but it's like the javelin--new rules, new statistical lists.

Among those remaining, the following athletes have had doping issues, and their marks are removed from the lists:
Marion Jones (admission)
Chioma Ajunwa (lifetime ban)
Zhanna Block (implicated in BALCO but not banned; almost certainly recieved their products)
Torri Edwards (ban reduced; only once under 10.90 and wind-aided at that)
Chryste Gaines (BALCO-related ban)
Ekateríni Thánou (famous "motorcycle accident")
Kelli White (admitted)
Merlene Ottey was banned for a short time but her ban was reversed and her name cleared.

Of the remainder, Ivet Lalova is widely considered to have caught a flyer when she ran 10.77, and Liu Xiaomei and Li Xuemei ran strange times under strange conditions in a strange meet. Since these were one-off performances for each athlete, they get stricken from the record as well.

What remains can be looked at in two different ways. By official time:
10.73 Christine Arron 8/19/1998 Budapest
10.74 Merlene Ottey 9/7/1996 Milano
10.77 Irina Privalova 7/6/1994 Lausanne
10.78 Merlene Ottey 9/3/1994 Paris
10.79 Inger Miller 8/22/1999 Sevilla
10.80 Merlene Ottey 7/13/1992 Salamanca
10.81 Inger Miller 8/22/1999 Sevilla
10.81 Christine Arron 8/19/1998 Budapest
10.82 Gail Devers 8/1/1992 Barcelona
10.82 Sherone Simpson 6/24/2006 Kingston
10.82 Gail Devers 8/16/1993 Stuttgart
10.82 Merlene Ottey 8/16/1993 Stuttgart
10.82 Gwen Torrence 9/3/1994 Paris
10.82 Gwen Torrence 6/15/1996 Atlanta
10.82 Gail Devers 7/7/1993 Lausanne
10.82 Gail Devers 6/17/1993 Eugene
10.82 Irina Privalova 6/22/1992 Moskva

and then by wind/altitude adjusted time:
10.75 Gail Devers 8/1/1992 Barcelona
10.76 Juliet Cuthbert 8/1/1992 Barcelona
10.77 Sherone Simpson 6/24/2006 Kingston
10.77 Irina Privalova 8/1/1992 Barcelona
10.78 Inger Miller 8/22/1999 Sevilla
10.79 Gwen Torrence 8/1/1992 Barcelona
10.80 Merlene Ottey 9/3/1994 Paris
10.80 Gail Devers 8/16/1993 Stuttgart
10.80 Merlene Ottey 8/16/1993 Stuttgart
10.80 Merlene Ottey 9/6/1997 Tokyo
10.80 Gail Devers 8/23/1996 Bruxelles
10.81 Inger Miller 8/22/1999 Sevilla
10.82 Merlene Ottey 8/1/1992 Barcelona

In any case, sub-10.80s are exceedingly rare, and only Sherone Simpson has approached it once the BALCO hit the fan.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Marion Jones, the final chapter?

I heard the news today. Oh, boy.
Marion Jones admitted using steroids before the 2000 Olympics in a recent letter to close family and friends, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Discuss: Old farts / young punks
Craig Masback statement

It's been a busy time lately; I'm coaching, my house is up for sale, and just a few minutes ago I was helping my wife proofread the final draft of her doctoral dissertation. So I only got the story second-hand as my brother called me this afternoon with the basics. She didn't just up and admit this for no reason; Trevor Graham is going on trial and she was going to have to testify. Obviously she could no longer keep the genie in the bottle.

That Jones used performance-enhancing drugs is a shocker on the level of, say, the US Government explicitly allowing torture. Denying either strained credulity long before we had the official information. And in both instances the real question is, "What now?" What official sanctions will be taken in order to punish the offenders?

Will the IOC strip her of her medals at the 2000 Olympics? What about the IAAF and her achievements at World Championships and the like? How will the various and sundry statisticians of the sport amend their lists? Will Track & Field News amend its World Rankings?

A key to answering all these questions is the IAAF's statute of limitations enacted in the wake of the Dubin Inquiry (aka the Ben Johnson affair). At that time it was set at six years; currently it is at eight years (see Rule 44, pp. 65-66). While no specific date was set in Jones' statement, it states her actions began in 1999, probably just outside the eight-year window, but that it definitely continued on through 2000 and therefore within the time frame for official sanctions. Statisticians and T&FN's Rankings committee, however, are free to act as they wish. Not a peep yet from any of them.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Berlin Marathon

I woke up in the middle of the night with an upset stomach--I think I got dehydrated at the cross-country meet yesterday. Anyway, I looked over at the clock and saw that it was around 3:30 AM, and thought, "If I got online, I could see the end of the Berlin Marathon. Nah, what's the chance anything interesting is going to happen?"

Well, as it turns out, the pre-race hype was actually right (that never happens!) and Haile Gebrselassie set his umpteenth world record, 2:04:26. (T&FN discussion - Let's Run discussion - WCSN video)
Gete Wami won the women's race and plans to turn around and race again New York in just five weeks, in an attempt to keep Jelena Prokupcuka from catching her in the World Marathon Majors standings.
New World Marathon Majors standings

In other news:
*Paula Radcliffe made her return to racing at the Great North Run half-marathon only to lose to Kara Goucher's American Record / world leader 66:57

*the (finally!) season-ending Yokohama Super Meet was pretty good but the headlines were all about a hamstring injury to Asafa Powell in the 200. Also, not a single pole vaulter made a height!

*yesterday a World Record was set in the 20 km road walk at the final of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

and finally,
*Alan Webb and Carmen Douma-Hassar beat fields that were basically exclusively North American (and therefore fairly weak) at the Fifth Avenue Mile.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Andy Norman Story

Being both American and just slightly too young, when I saw that former British athletics promoter Andy Norman had died, I hadn't the foggiest idea who he was. Apparently, there may not have been a more important trackman in the English-speaking world over quite an extended period of time.

The most honest and straightforward obit comes to us from The Guardian.
[Norman] ushered athletics through the age of "shamateurism" to its present professional state. Across three decades from the 1970s to the 1990s, he influenced, manipulated and dictated events on the track in Britain before being sacked in 1994 from the post of promotions director of the the British Athletics Federation. This followed the inquest on the athletics journalist Cliff Temple, whose suicide was, according to the coroner, partly due to Norman's intimidation.
...
His contribution to sport in Britain at a time of immense change was considerable, but he needed to be controlled, and for this omission British athletics officialdom remains guilty.
The T&F message boards have been quite active about this man, some opinions so strong that posts have been deleted and banning has been suggested (over there, what qualifies as "too strong" is sometimes merely being in direct conflict with head honcho Garry Hill). Let's Run is also discussing the issue.

There's no need for me to re-tell Norman's story; the above obit does a far better job than I ever could. Despite the fact that he was a bully, the athletes tended to like him, as he mostly took care of them and treated them well. But if bullies were incapable of being nice and gracious, the press would have been just as tough on GW Bush as they were on Gore, and the 21st century so far would have been radically different.

He bullied athletes who didn't do exactly as he said. He bullied other meet promoters into taking British athletes that didn't always deserve entry. He bullied administrators, including the national minister of sport. He bullied the anti-doping system, allowing athletes to avoid detection and reportedly squelching positive tests. He bullied sportswriters who dared to question anything he did, and that was his most egregious transgression.

In 1993, Sunday Times sportswriter Cliff Temple began to dig into so conflicts of interest in the business affairs of onetime jav record holder Fatima Whitbread. Whitbread just happened to be the woman Norman left his wife for (although based on her ridiculous physique, five o'clock shadow and obvious long-term steroid use, maybe "woman" isn't the right word to use). Norman threatened to drag Temple's name through the mud by spreading false rumors about abusing young girls if Temple kept it up. Being a real newspaperman (not like what we have here in the States), Temple went ahead anyway even though he knew he was crossing a powerful and vindictive man. Norman ruined his life and was publicly blamed as a factor in Temple's suicide. The book Running Scared details the whole thing.

Many who commented on his passing mentioned that there was plenty of good to go with the bad. Maybe it's because of my station in life as a rather ordinary man who's never been in a position that needed great power, but I simply cannot accept this kind of attitude. It's the same kind of thinking that leads to J. Edgar Hoover's more notorious actions; the FBI director did do a lot of good for the country but also subverted the rule of law and the Constitution.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Anti-Doping News

You've no doubt already heard the news. From Tuesday's New York Times:
Federal authorities said yesterday that they had exposed a sprawling underground distribution network for steroids, human growth hormone and other illicit bodybuilding drugs supplied by 37 companies in China.

The operation revealed a much wider, more diffuse commerce in performance-enhancing drugs than previously known, with a latticework of bathroom and basement manufacturers and distributors. That contrasted with the more centralized drug network from past years that tapped into established pharmaceutical pipelines.

A network of Internet-based chemical wholesalers, anonymous e-mail services and password-protected chat rooms fueled the trade, federal and state officials said.
...
The D.E.A. estimates that 99 percent of the illegal steroids originate with chemicals from China.
Two years ago the DEA pulled off the previously biggest-ever performance-enhancing drug bust, called Operation Gear Grinder, which was aimed mostly at destroying the flow of steroids into the USA from Mexico. This new bust, dubbed Operation Raw Deal, is obviously centered on the trade with China. The major difference is how the drugs came to the USA; from Mexico they were basically ready-to-use, but this new pipeline was mainly raw supplies which were then manufactured into drugs here in the states.

In the USA alone, the bust netted 124 arrests and the shutdown of 56 labs, including a massive Long Island operation. Feds say they have thousands of names which they have not as of yet disclosed but they say they will be working with WADA and USADA as well as MLB and the NFL. Big names could be implicated, but I personally doubt we'll get a bunch in track & field.
The dealers engaged in illegally manufacturing and selling anabolic steroids over the Internet, the authorities said, and tried to avoid detection through anonymous e-mail services and password-protected chat rooms.

Customers contacted encrypted e-mail addresses and often sent cash to post office boxes.

“There was a definite local customer base on Long Island. However, the clientele was also outside this jurisdiction — they didn’t just cater to Long Island,” said Teri Corrigan, chief of the street narcotics and gang bureau for the Nassau County district attorney’s office, which worked with federal agents on the investigation.

She said that many sellers advertised on bodybuilding chat rooms and online bulletin boards, and that investigators placed Internet orders for steroids and observed sellers mailing packages. Web site operators are suspected of using savvy techniques to screen customers by checking their e-mail addresses to see if they had a history of visiting bodybuilding Web sites.
Top track athletes know everyone is looking over their shoulders, and in the wake of the BALCO affair the smart ones will never handle deals themselves or write anything down anywhere. Other athletes such as baseball players, however, are likely to have assumed the Internet is totally anonymous (it's not, folks) and they'll be the ones getting hit.

Others with actual real knowledge agree:

U.S. Olympic athletes could emerge unscathed from the scandal, according to Travis Tygart, who oversees the drug-testing program for the Olympic team. Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and an adviser during the 20-month international investigation that culminated in four days of raids last week, said the evidence he has seen suggests the list does not include athletes expected to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
...
Tygart apparently is the lone sports official privy to contents of the list – a database of the names of people who received steroids, HGH and other performance-enhancing drugs during the investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration...

It's been estimated that this police action destroyed 90% of the the USA's HGH supply. That can't be bad; at the very least, it will drive up the cost for the high-end users.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: drug testing is no longer the strongest weapon in the anti-doping effort. Law enforcement has taken over.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

From "In The Bleachers"











World Final Day Two recap

Results
IAAF recap
AP wirestory
Athletics Weekly report

Event-by-event...

Mens' 200: Jaysuma Saidy Ndure gained some notoriety late this season by running second or third in several Golden League 100m races, with decent but not-stunning times. The more observant fan might have known he's a better 200m runner. Today he stomped Wallace Spearmon by 0.29 seconds with 19.89. Definitely the find of this meet!
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 1500: Daniel Kipchirchir Komen was supposed to be one of the dominant milers this year, but it didn't really come out that way until after the World Championships. Today he outkicked a field that included Baala, Webb, Sullivan, Ali and Baddeley.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's Steeple: Paul Koech won almost every race he was in this year, save the all-important Kenyan Trials where he finished fourth and was not selected for the World Championships. He easily won again today, running 8:00.67 to runner-up Mateelong's 8:07.66 (and this without a pacemaker). Statistically, Koech is now probably the second- or third-best steepler of all time.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 5000: Two days, two wins for Edwin Cheruyiot Soi. His kick was described as one of the best ever. Sihine was way back in sixth; there may have been some Kenyan team tactics going on there.
T&FN discussion - video

Mens' 110H: All of the world's best hurdlers save WR holder/world champ Liu Xiang were in the race. Dayron Robles, who was a bit of a disappointment in the early and middle parts of the season (no medal in Osaka) has been running very well in the last few weeks. Today he took it up another level; he ran 12.92 (wind 0.0), equal to the 4th-fastest athlete of all time. David Payne ran another great race (13.08) for second, with Trammell third. Robles' mark is definitely the performance of the day.
T&FN discussion

Men's High Jump: World Champ Donald Thomas added the World Final title to his short but rapidly-growing list of accomplishments. Remember, just two years ago he'd never tried the event and was still playing basketball for Auburn. Stefan Holm gained some measure of redemption for his Osaka failure by taking the runner-up spot.
T&FN discussion

Men's Pole Vault: Brad Walker cemented his position as the year's top vaulter with a 5.91 victory, beating back crowd-supported Germans Otto (2nd, 5.86) and Ecker (4th, 5.81) and Aussie Hooker (3rd, 5.81) in the process. He then actually had the audacity to attempt a WR 6.16 meters. Do I even have to mention that he didn't make it?
T&FN discussion

Men's Long Jump: These days, discussion of the event virtually begins and ends with Irving Saladino. He suffered and injury in Rieti and ended his season right there, so he was a no-show today. The man who came the closest to beating Saladino, Andrew Howe, won by a fairly wide margin with 8.35.
T&FN discussion

Men's Hammer: In the marquee running events many top stars skipped this meet. This was not the case in events which get lesser coverage such as the long throws; all the best hammer guys were here today. The title went to World champ Ivan Tsikhan.
T&FN discussion

Men's Javelin: Yet another Pitkämäki win (although to be fair, runner-up Thorkildsen is still recovering from injury). Every one of the top six was from a nation bordering the Baltic Sea.
T&FN discussion

Women's 100: All-around sprint star Allyson Felix chose the 100 for her first (only?) post-Osaka race and came up 0.05 short on a late-race surge. Emerging talent Carmelita Jeter won in 11.10 (wind -0.6) while a resurgent Christine Arron was third.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 400: All the top 400 runners save Felix were in the race, and all got their butts kicked by Sanya Richards (49.27, equal to her own world leader).
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 800: Janeth Jepkosgei. Get to know this name--it sure looks like she's going to dominate the event for years to come.
T&FN discussion

Women's 3000: A Defar-Jamal matchup did not materialize. Defar won in 8:27.24 to 5k champ Cheruyiot's 8:28.66, but it actually was not as close as that appears. A dominant win for an athlete with a reasonable case for Athlete of the Year.
T&FN discussion

Women's 400H: This race was almost a microcosm of the season in this event. World Champ Jana Rawlinson dominated for 300+ meters, then folded in the straight and got nipped at the line by a surging Anna Jesien. Natasha Danvers-Smith's apparrel made a bit of a stir.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's Triple Jump: Tatyana Lebedeva continues to do the opposite of what we expect: win the long jump and get beaten in the triple. Surprise World champ Yergelis Sevigne won again today (14.78), with Devetzi second (14.75) and Lebedeva third (14.72).
T&FN discussion

Women's Shot: Nadzeya Ostapchuk evened the major-meet score with World champ Valerie Vili, 20.45 to 20.40.
T&FN discussion

Women's Discus: It actually took Franka Dietzsch two throws to put this one away. Runner-up Vera Pospíšilová-Cechlová was a bomb in Osaka, not qualifying to the final.
T&FN discussion

Saturday, September 22, 2007

World Final Day One recap

Results
IAAF recap
Raf Casert's AP story

Event-by-event...

Men's 100: The AP headline reads "Asafa Powell wins 100 meters at World Athletics Final, but misses world record". The IAAF story leads with "Asafa Powell has developed a knack for making even some of the most sensational performances in history seem almost routine." He won by 0.23 seconds over Jasuma Saidy Ndure, who himself set a new national record. Considering the headwind (0.3 m/s), it was about the second-best mark of Powell's career.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 400: In the absence of Jeremy Wariner, the event was won by Osaka runner-up LaShawn Merritt in 44.58, with Christopher Tyler second (44.87) and Angelo Taylor third (44.92). No one else beat 45 seconds.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 800: Not one of the medalists at the World Championships were in attendance. Yusuf Saad Kamel just nipped Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, 1:45.61 to 1:45.67.
T&FN discussion

Men's 3000: Kenenisa Bekele was supposed to be in the race but pulled out. It was a relatively easy win for Edwin Cheruiyot Soi; Worlds medalist Eliud Kipchog had a bad day and finished sixth.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 400H: This was the race of the night. All the best hurdlers were in the race. Marek Plawgo, Kerron Clement and James Carter all came to the line together; the Pole outleaned the others, fell and was ill. He's had a wonderful finish to his season.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's Triple Jump: Walter Davis took his third post-Osaka win in four tries with a seasonal best mark. The top three (Davis, Wilson and Evora) all made their best marks in their final attempts.
T&FN discussion

Men's Shot Put: Reese Hoffa is doubtless the year's top putter and he beat a stacked field here. Once again, he was behind until his final throw when he unleashed a big one.
T&FN discussion

Men's Discus Throw: Alekna must still be suffering from the injury that held him back in Osaka; he now has a two-meet losing streak. He held on to second, to World champ Gerd Kanter who solidified his claim to a world #1 ranking.
T&FN discussion

Women's 200: Uhh, yeah. Just one Osaka 200m finalist (Akron's LaShantea Moore) was in attendance. Muriel Hurtis just beat out Debbie Ferguson, 22.73-22.74. There were strange issues with the starter; Kim Gevaert was DQ'd for a false start, sat out another false start, and then reinstated.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 1500: Maryam Yusuf Jamal whupped the year's #2, Yelena Soboleva, by more than four seconds. There are rumours that she will enter the 3000.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's Steeple: Most of the top players were here. World Champ Volkova did not run as well in this race, finishing fourth; the winner was Osaka bronze-medalist Eunice Jepkorir, in a relatively slow 9:35.03.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 5000: Only six runners! Meseret Defar was on the start list initially but will run the 3000 instead. The athletes who took places 2-3-4 at the World Championships 5k were in the race, however. Cheruyiot first (14:56.94), Kibet second (14:57.37 PR), Cherono third (14:58.97).
T&FN discussion

Women's 100H: This was ridiculous. Susanna Kallur, Lolo Jones and Sally McLellan all got DQ'd on false starts. And there was reportedly some bad blood between Perdita Felicien and "victor" Michelle Perry. A most disappointing and disgraceful end to the season for an event which has been pretty interesting this year.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's High Jump: Vlasic, again.
T&FN discussion

Women's Pole Vault: Isinbayeva, again, but not comfortably. Pyrek set a PR and forced a jump-off. This was the first competition with three athletes over 4.80.
T&FN discussion

Women's Long Jump: Lebedeva beat a field that wasn't all that great in terms of depth.
T&FN discussion

Women's Hammer: Yipsi Moreno had two measured throws, both of which were good enough to win.
T&FN discussion

Women's Javelin: Early-season hero Obergföll was only third, while late-season hero Špotáková won with a new national record (67.12). It's always better to be the second of those than the first.
T&FN discussion

IAAF preview of the second day

Thursday, September 20, 2007

World Athletics Final preview

Meet website
Timetable
Entry Lists (provisional) - discuss
World Athletics Tour standings
IAAF previews:
Sprints - Distance - Hurdles - Jumps - Throws
Day One
USATF promo

Net coverage:
WCSN, beginning at noon Saturday and Sunday

TV coverage:
no English-language North American coverage, so far as I know
(Due to Canada's hosting of the U-20 World Cup, CBC has contractual obligations with FIFA for the current Women's World Cup, and Hockey Night in Canada will begin next weekend)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Anti-Doping News

Quite a few headlines recently. In reverse order, from boring to interesting:

The IAAF announces eight bans, none of them involving a name I recognize.

The Toronto Sun reports on Dick Pound's retirement from head of WADA.

The New York Times gives us an update on the search for an HGH test, which would be the next leap forward in drug testing (it's known as the drug of choice for sprinters). Also: the MLBPA's fight against the test and a column about it.

Yahoo! Xtra reports on the initial clearing of Giuseppe Gibilisco of a non-analytical positive. The article makes much of his claim to never fail a drug test, but it rings as hollow as a gangster who says he's been indicted but never convicted. The real key in this story is whether or not law enforcement has sufficient evidence to prove he recieved doping materials.

I saved the most interesting for last: Ex-Track Stars Could Testify For Government in Balco Trial
Five-time Olympic medal winner Marion Jones, former 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery and several other well-known track and field athletes might testify at the trial of track coach Trevor Graham in November, federal prosecutors in San Francisco said in a recent court filing.

Besides Jones and Montgomery, the government attorneys named four other athletes -- sprinter Michelle Collins, brothers Alvin and Calvin Harrison and sprinter Ramon Clay, along with coach Tom Craig -- as possible witnesses in what is projected to be an eight-day trial beginning Nov. 26.

C.J. Hunter, Jones's ex-husband and a former world champion shot putter, and coach John Burks, a former assistant to Graham, are also expected to testify, Graham's attorney Gail Shifman said in a recent interview.
We've gotten the truth out of all these athletes save one: Marion Jones. People have been convicted of murder with less compelling evidence than we have against her; maybe we'll finally get to the bottom of it all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Berlin Golden League Review

Results
IAAF Review
AP wirestory

Richards and Isinbayeva hold on for the $1 million jackpot.

Event-by-event...

Men's 100: None of the top athletes ran; Ndure just nipped Devonish in 10.14 (-0.5 wind). Video

Men's 200: The only big names here were Americans Spearmon and Martin, who went 1-2 in 20.22 and 20.54 (-0.8 wind).

Men's 400: Even Jeremy Wariner is beginning to feel the effects of a very long season...but not as much as everyone else. He ran 44.05, while second place (Christopher Tyler) ran 45.10; US champ Angelo Taylor was third. Video

Men's 1500: If memory serves me, this was Lagat's first loss since July. He was passed by Daniel Kipchirchir Komen on the final turn but held off everyone else.

Men's 110H: Allen Johnson started his season very late and wasn't in form to make the Worlds team, but has been very good over the last week or so of the season. The three big stars (Liu, Trammell, Robles) were absent but most of the rest were here; Johnson topped them all in 13.33 (-0.5 wind) for his first win of the year. Video

Men's 400H: Marek Plawgo continued his late-season heroics, winning (49.01) by a scant 0.01 over James Carter, with Felix Sanchez a well-beaten fourth.

Men's Pole Vault: Germans Danny Ecker and Bjorn Otto went 1-2 with Brad Walker third (a countbakc loss to Otto).

Men's Triple Jump: Probably the event of the day. All the top jumpers were in attendance and it was a close one. Aarik Wilson and World champ Nelson Evora tied with 17.07, and their second-best jumps were also tied (17.02). They had to go back to the third-best mark to get a winner, which was Wilson. Gregorio, Davis, Sands and Lewis rounded out the top half-dozen.

Men's Javelin: Dueling northerners Pitkämäki and Thorkildsen each only took two throws. The Finn's mark of 88.58 held up (no one else in the field save Thorkildsen has beaten that this year). The Norwegian's 80.71 wasn't remotely close to good enough to hold second; Magnus Arviddson and Teemu Wirkkala both topped it, giving Thorkildsen his worst result on the 2007 World Tour.

Women's 100: Carmelita Jeter (11.15, -0.3 wind) ran well clear of Lauren Williams and Christine Arron (both 11.24). It was Williams' second race of the day (see below).

Women's 200: Williams led into the straight and held it through to the finish (22.95, +1.2 wind). Notables in the race included Debbie Ferguson (2nd, 23.07), LaShauntea Moore (4th, 23.10), Cydonie Mothersill (5th, also 23.10), and Muriel Hurtis (6th, 23.13). Video

Women's 400: Earlier this week it was reported that World champ Christine Ohuruogu was calling it quits for the season, but she was here in the race along with compatriate silver-medalist Sanders, Amy Mbacke Thiam, Novlene Williams, and hurdle champ Jana Rawlinson. Sanya Richards disposed of them all in world-leading time (49.27) to claim half a million dollars. Video

Women's 800: Another late-season meet, another good field decisively beaten by Janeth Jepkosgei.

Women's 5k: The only Osaka distance medalists entered were Vivian Cheruiyot and Kara Goucher. The former won fairly clearly (14:50.78) while the latter, back in third, broke her PR by 13 seconds (14:55.02)and moved to #4 on the US list behind Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor and (cue Darth Vader musical sting) Regina Jacobs.

Women's 100H: Susanna Kallur led from the gun for her third straight post-Osaka victory and a new PR (12.49). Michelle Perry was second, just ahead of Delloreen Ennis-Perry. Video

Women's High Jump: Blanca Vlašic again, but not as dominating. She only jumped 2.00 and needed three attempts to get it. Video

Women's Pole Vault: Isinbayeva was quite dominating here. She went 4.82, while the season's next-best vaulters (Pyrek and Feofanova) were second and third with 10 cm less.

Women's Javelin: German hero Christina Obergföll avenged her Osaka loss to Barbara Špotáková, 64.58 to 64.51.