After a bit of a quiet week last week, there’s a bit more buzz in the athletics world with the first major meet of the year this weekend, a new task-force announced by European Athletics and a true legend losing an Olympic gold medal make up today’s edition of ‘This Week in Athletics’.
NESTA CARTER ADVERSE FINDING CONFIRMED AS BOLT LOSES BEIJING GOLD
After the announcement last year of an adverse finding belonging to Jamaican 4×100 relay team member Nesta Carter, there was always the chance that Usain Bolt (along with Asafa Powell and xxx) was going to lose one of his Olympic Gold medals and that was confirmed this week. While a shame that we can no longer call him the ‘triple-triple’ Olympic Champion, to say he is now only an 8-time Olympic Champion shouldn’t really take any gloss of his unbelievable career. Not just because he still has an unrivalled level of a success for a sprinter (Carl Lewis obviously had his long jump exploits to aid his tally) but also because he hasn’t lost it due to anything that he has done and so there hasn’t really been any suspicion placed on Bolt himself which is good because it would have been a massive shame had it done so. It also reminds me that as we enter the final months of his career, there isn’t much opportunity to enjoy the big man’s talent and charisma that has made him one of the very few to transcend his sport on a truly global level. I think it would be silly to downgrade his legacy because of this loss of this medal and thankfully it doesn’t look like it will. It didn’t with Michael Johnson after relay gold medals he lost due to teammates failing tests due to his extraordinary individual achievements and the same will be Bolt.
EUROPEAN ATHLETICS SET UP TASKFORCE TO LOOK AT LEGITIMACY OF EUROPEAN RECORDS
In the past there have been numerous discussions about the legitimacy of many of the World Records with either strong suspicions about individuals or indeed nations (for example East Germany in the 1980’s) or indeed certain time periods where performances were of such a high level that even the very best today can’t get close to. UKA in its manifesto last year had also mentioned it and proposed a new set of world records to replace the previous ones with mixed reactions from those in and out of the sport. There was also the idea of the millennium world records which in hindsight would have been the best time to do it, although instead of Flo-Jo having the women’s 100 metre world record it would have been Marion Jones at the time so it wasn’t a perfect solution.
This latest attempt by European Athletics (who say that they are working closely with the IAAF on this) is intriguing but it will be a difficult process as there will no doubt be strong opposition from some over previous records that will be deemed to not be credible after this review. Say, for example, if Marita Koch’s 400 metre European record (which of course is also the World record) was removed this would lead to a series of interesting questions. In her case, there is evidence of her being a big part of the doping system created by East Germany that clearly many were subjected to but ultimately as far as anyone knows never failed a drugs test, then what precedent would that set? Common sense would suggest to many (me included) that it was highly unlikely her record was done clean as even the very best today can’t even get close to a second of it. However what level of proof or evidence would be needed for any performance to be deemed non-credible? I am not saying this shouldn’t be done because it will cause opposition and problems, but I do wonder how effective this attempt will be but I hope very much that it is. Of course in this example, it would mean the IAAF would have to remove it as a world record because otherwise it would undermine what European Athletics is trying to do so hopefully they are indeed in close contact over this and therefore reviewing their own World records as well.
THE 2017 WORLD INDOOR TOUR BEGINS IN BOSTON
With some very early performances done we enter the first ‘big’ meet of the year with the Boston Indoor Grand Prix which is happening this weekend. For full start lists you can find them here: http://www.nbindoorgrandprix.com/events-results/
Among the highlights include an intriguing battle in the women’s pole vault with Jenn Suhr and Olympic Champion Katerini Stefanidi likely to be the main contenders in what could be a very close contest. There is also a very competitive women’s 60 metre race with English Gardner the highest profile American in a race which features just one non-American who is the Jamaican Schillonie Calvert. The men’s 60 metres doesn’t necessarily feature the highest profile line up although it does contain an Olympic Champion with Long Jumper Jeff Henderson in action who has just been announced for the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix in his usual event.
The highlight of the meet though lies with the middle distance races on offer. The women’s 3000 metres features an impressive line-up with Sifan Hissan, Helen Obiri and Shannon Rowbury all announced whilst the men’s version has excellent depth with Gebremeskel the biggest African name, American represented by Olympic medallists Paul Chelimo (5000) and Clayton Murphy (800) and Garrett Heath and Britain’s Andrew Butchart who had an excellent 2016 which saw him finish 6th at the Olympics.
Another American Olympic Champion Matthew Centrowitz goes in the mile and along with Olympic bronze medallist in the 5000 Hagos Gebrhiwet. Current women’s World 800 metre champion Marina Arzamasova is in action along with Britain’s Lynsey Sharp as well as the whistle-blower behind the various investigations and reports into Russian doping Iuliia Stepanova makes a rare appearance on the circuit. 2015 World silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre and 2016 European silver medallist Michal Torneus headline the men’s long jump.
There are also some rarely run 300 and 600 metre races including the young sprint sensation Candace Hill in the women’s 300 metres and the talented Donovan Brazier goes in the men’s 600 metres. Should be an interesting start to the World Indoor Tour which for the many Americans competing will be mainly used as preparation for the outdoor season while some of the Europeans looking to get some good performances in with the European Championships in March.
That it’s for this week in Athletics as the indoor season gets really underway over the next few weeks with the European Championships a little over a month away. Thanks for reading and until next time!