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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Distance Stars Want XC in Olympics

Track & Field News got a copy of a letter from Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Paul Tergat sent to IOC head Jacques Rogge and IAAF head Lamine Diack asking for cross-country to be reinstated into the Summer Olympics. It was once on the program but eliminated after 1924.

While the IOC is in no mood to add to the summer games, this is an intriguing possibility. The facilities and work required to add two XC races (one each for men and women) are about as minimal as you can get in the Olympics. If they were held early in the games, before the rest of the track & field competition began, you could have both track stars and marathoners meet head-to-head (as both would have ample recovery time before the main event). This is what the IAAF has always wanted with its World XC Championships but rarely gets.

I would absolutely love to see Beks and Sihine take on Wanjiru. Let's hope this movement gains traction.

More from Doug Logan

Another blog post from USATF's new CEO: Living Up To Our Charter.

I have come to the conclusion that our [Olympic] performance, as an organization, is seriously deficient if judged by the mandate of our own charter. Additionally, our High Performance Programs to which we contribute the greatest portion of our fiscal resources must be reassessed and examined in the light of this empirical data. Now that we have come to the end of this quadrennial, it seems to me that this is an optimum time to conduct a top-to-bottom operating audit of these expensive programs in order to face the global competition that has emerged in our sport.

I am therefore forming an ad-hoc Operating Audit Panel to examine our High Performance Programs, methods and practices. This panel, reporting directly to me, will be composed of former Olympic athletes and coaches with no ties or affiliation with those charged with the efforts leading to the 2008 Games, several of whom I have already spoken to and who have agreed to serve.
Without saying it directly, this cannot be seen as anything but calling Brooks Johnson, et. al., out on the carpet. It ain't gonna be pretty, but it's waaaaay overdue.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brooks Johnson, CPA

The old joke is that CPA stands for Certified Public Asshole. For those of you not in the know, Brooks Johnson is USATF's High Performance Division chair, was this year's Olympic relay coach, and has earned a reputation somewhere south of Tom Delay's (both in terms of competence and style).

Every now and then, a truly useful discussion breaks out at Let's Run and shows the place hasn't completely jumped the shark (mostly, but not completely). This thread started off with reference to new USATF CEO Doug Logan's recent blog post, which calls for change in USATF leadership. You don't have to be a genius to figure out he's talking about Johnson (and partners in crime Stephanie Hightower and John Chaplin). It quickly turned into a bitch session about Johnson. Even Joetta Clark delicately said he's a real piece of work. It's a fascinating read.

This is the kind of stuff I'm generally unaware of, even though I do realize USATF is even more dysfunctional than the Democratic party. The absolute best revelation: a public exchange at a coaching clinic between Johnson and Ohio State's hard-nosed forward-thinking coach Robert Gary.
The Rob Gary versus Brooks Johnson exchange in Vegas of 2005 was the most entertaining. No idea how Gary got asked back to speak again, but he did a steeple presentation on Crogan and Diemer that was really cool.

Best line came about the "critical zone" where Brooks started practically yelling at Gary that Americans had to concentrate on the last barrier to the finish line sprint when Rob came back and said "we are usually still playing about in the water when that is happening crazy ass".
I'm telling you, this is very interesting stuff. No wonder the USOC wants these guys' heads.