The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Evening Decathlete

What did we learn this week?

The best rivalry in track & field keeps getting better. It's Kenya v. Ethiopia, and the World Cross Country championships is where it's at its best. Just when you think one side has the upper hand, it goes the other way as Kenya swept all the titles today.

American distance running continues to rise. Lisa Koll broke the collegiate 10k record on Friday at Stanford with 31:18.07. Fantastic--now let's hope she's smart enough to realize that if she can't outkick Angela Bizzari (who herself can't outkick Bridget Franek), her post-collegiate fortunes lies in the half-marathon and marathon. Like Paula Radcliffe and Zersenesay Tadesse, she's a bull-strong runner who doesn't have much hope of big international titles on the track, but should scare the bejesus out of roadies.

The intersection of business and politics often lends itself to hyperbole. And just as often, we don't know which side of an argument is overblown. Earlier this week, the IAAF's treasurer, Jean Poczobut, told the IAAF's council that bankruptcy looms large on the horizon. The culprits are reduced TV-contract income and increased expenses.

But, of course, the IAAF is at least as much a political organization as sporting one. IAAF deputy Secretary-General Nick Davies disputed the numbers. And a columnist for Athletics Africa pointed out that the IAAF is having an election soon, and the author of that original article has publicly backed Sebastian Coe in that election, who was conveniently quoted as being shocked and outraged. Yet there's political reasons for an IAAF bigwig to deny problems when he's up for re-election, and for an African writer to defend IAAF president Lamine Diack, an African who has outlayed big money for athletics development in poor countries. So I don't know what to think or who to believe.

It all comes out in the end. The two dominant women's 800 runners of about ten years ago were Jolanda Ceplak and Stephanie Graf. The former got busted for EPO in 2007, and now the latter is being called into question for her 2003 involvement with Vienna's notorious Humanplasma lab, which stands at the center of a blood doping scandal. While some of the athletes will get away with all of their doping all of the time, that group is ever smaller.

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