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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Steve Cram Doesn't Hold Back, plus links

On Friday's webcast of the Paris Diamond League meet, which is a rebroadcast of the BBC television coverage, announcer Steve Cram didn't hold back.  As Anna Alminova finished the 1500 meters in a time of 3:57.65, he said "You can make your own judgement about that".

Some background information is probably necessary here.  In 2008, a whole slew of Russian women middle-distance runners received two-year bans when they were found to be switching urine samples.  Alminova was one of the few not caught up in it, but she herself just finished a three-month suspension for pseudoephedrine.  Add in the long list of Russian skiers found to be manipulating their blood in any number of ways and a definite pattern appears.

In my mind, 3:57 is not a red flag all by itself.  But the circumstances under which it was run should raise eyebrows.  With no races to sharpen her form, Alminova ran 4:06 and 4:00 on successive days at the Russian Championships.  Then she traveled 1800 miles to Paris, got about three hours of sleep, and trounced the world's best runners with 3:57--just over 24 hours after her unrabbited 4:00!  As this well-written Slate piece on Lance Armstrong hints, great performances on successive days is the thing that doesn't raise suspicion as often as it should.  When Elena Soboleva ran 1:56 and 3:58 indoors (!) on back-to-back days at the 2008 Russian Championships I knew something was up, and she was one of the seven Russians banned later that year.

So yeah, Cram, I'm making my own judgment about that.  Guess what it is.

Today is day 2 of the World Junior Championships.  Finals on tap are the women's shot put and the men's 10k.
The best homepages are from the IAAF and the CBC.
CBC has a live blog and a live stream.
TV coverage will be on CBC from midnight to 1 AM.
Flotrack now has World Juniors coverage.
The IAAF's World Juniors day 1 report.
ESPN Rise covers the
top ten storylines for Team USA at the World Juniors.
Real fans watch field events.

Other links...
Runner's World Racing News has all the headlines
Flotrack's Tasty Race of the Week and Kick of the Week 
Let's Run's weekly recap
The just-announced John W. James Endowment is a gift of $200,000 to "be used to fund elite grants for men and women track athletes in the throwing events and to promote and highlight the throwing events at major competitions"
Provisional entry lists for Thursday's Monte Carlo Diamond League meet are up; Dayron Robles is still hurt and will not run
Saucony has a "vintage running T-shirt" contest, and FinishLynx has a photofinish photo contest

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