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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Project 30 Task Force News

Amy Shipley wrote an article for the WaPo:
The 69-page report...recommended an overhaul of USA Track and Field's high-performance program, improvements to its anti-doping policies and the termination of its million-dollar relay developmental program, which the report described as "a waste of money and a failure."
The report caps what has been a difficult decade for USATF, which has struggled to maintain its standing as the world's most decorated track program while being battered by doping revelations and seemingly declining interest...
"The problem now is not that everyone's catching up, but we're going backwards," Lewis said on a conference call with reporters.
"Change never comes out of a climate of comfort," [CEO Doug Logan] said. "This report has and will produce a significant amount of discomfort. . . . At the end of the day, this is the only way this institution will be able to . . . realize its potential."
The USATF's five-year-old National Relay Program, which has involved various relay-team training camps and been led by Coach Brooks Johnson, received the heaviest criticism...The report also chided USATF for allowing shoe companies and agents to effectively take over the management of track and field.
"American athletes as a group do not conduct themselves as true professionals, and USATF does not hold them to professional standards," the report said. "USATF, rather than external forces with interests often times at odds with those of the athletes, must educate them and set professional standards."
George Vecsey has also written an analysis for the NY Times, and reveals that the task force essentially began with Carl Lewis:
Lewis thinks the United States should do better — and be clean. Now 47, he thought he was the angriest man in the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on Aug. 21. Then he had lunch the next day with Douglas Logan, the new chief executive of USA Track & Field, the national federation. Turns out, Lewis was the moderate at that table.
"I was angry, but Carl was very analytical," Logan said the other day. "I fundamentally shut up and ate my lunch while Carl talked for two hours."
The report is sure to upset television networks by calling for trimming the trials from 10 days to no more than 5. The report will annoy shoe company sponsors and agents, saying they had too much control over athletes.
The vast majority of recommendations make perfect sense. The report criticizes the revolving-door policy of coaches and staff members: "People thinking they had a free vacation to Beijing," Lewis said with scorn.
Also, Ross Tucker of the Science of Sport blog gives us a South African perspective, noting that their government issued a similar report a decade ago and it went nowhere.  
Trackshark has the complete audio of the teleconference about this report.

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