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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Valieva doping appeal at CAS not coming until August?
2. Russian minister sees no issues funding “neutral” athletes
3. UCI to consider transgender rules again
4. Diamond League starts in Doha; Giro d’Italia starts Saturday
5. USATF publishes Road Worlds selection procedures
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed that a hearing on the appeal of the sanctions against Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva won’t be held until at least August. The Team event medals from the Beijing 2022 Winter Games continue to hang in the balance. Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin said that government funding of “neutral” Russian athletes is fine as far as he is concerned. Others have cited state funding as a reason to disqualify such athletes from any return to international competitions. The Union Cycliste Internationale will review its transgender rules, deciding to look into the issue again a couple of days after an American transgender, Austin Killips, won the Tour of the Gila stage race in New Mexico. The Wanda Diamond League in athletics and the first of the Grand Tours in cycling, the 106th Giro d’Italia, start on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Neither will be shown live on U.S. television. USA Track & Field published selection procedures for its team for the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Latvia in September, focusing on results from the U.S. nationals in the mile and 5 km and World Athletics world rankings in the half marathon.
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (300,000+ volunteer applications received) = Shooting (Italy tops medal table at ISSF Shotgun World Cup) = Swimming (18 swimmers file suit vs. University of California over McKeever abuse) ●
Valieva doping appeal at CAS not coming until August?
The seemingly unending saga of the Kamila Valieva doping positive from December 2021 will continue well into the summer.
The Russian news agency TASS reported a statement from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which included:
“The exchange of written submissions is ongoing. All parties have agreed to extend the usual time limits for this phase.”
“The hearing date will be determined at a later stage, once the lists of witnesses and experts will have been filed.
“It is unlikely that the hearing will take place prior to August 2023. Once it has been set, the hearing date will be announced officially on the CAS website.”
The CAS hearing is a consolidated appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (!) against the independent Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which held that Valieva did, in fact, did return a positive test for the banned substance trimetazidine from her test on 25 December 2021. It held that she bore no fault for this positive and gave her a one-day sanction, instead of the four years sought by WADA.
Valieva was suspended by RUSADA in advance of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, but this was overturned by the Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, allowing her to compete. She was a member of the winning Russian squad in the Team event, but as her doping positive was revealed, the results have never been certified and no medals awarded.
Russian minister sees no issues funding “neutral” athletes
One of the questions which has been raised about the International Olympic Committee’s 28 March recommendations for the re-admission of Russian and Belaursian athletes to international competitions is about state funding of such athletes.
British Minister Lucy Frazer has specifically called out athletes funded by the Russian or Belarusian state to be ineligible in the same way that the IOC has specified that athletes involved in the military or national security apparatus of their countries cannot compete.
But Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told TASS he sees no problems:
“We will do everything necessary to ensure the participation of our athletes in international competitions, for us they were, are and remain our athletes, members of national teams.
“I don’t see any difficulties in terms of financing.”
“But we will look at the conditions that will be determined by the international federations. We are carefully working on these issues from a legal and financial point of view, I think that we will find a way out, because our main task is to ensure the participation of our athletes, subject to respect for our rights.”
Matytsin also noted, however, that re-admission as neutrals may be as much as Russia can hope for at this stage:
“Unfortunately, it is difficult to challenge these decisions legally, because one way or another, international federations are the governing organizations in their sports and determine the rules, which are also supported by decisions of the relevant bodies, the executive committee or congress.
“From a legal point of view, it is difficult to challenge them, although of course, there is a certain red line that neither leaders, nor athletes, nor coaches will cross.
“It’s too early to talk about it, we need to wait for specific requirements. So far we see recommendations and a neutral status, and everywhere the requirements are quite different. In each specific case, our All-Russian federations need to work with international federations, because in many ways the position and regulations depend on how persistent and reasoned the arguments of the Russian side will be.”
TASS quoted the International Golf Federation as allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete in IGF events (of which there are very few outside of the Olympic Games and continental multi-sport games):
“The Board considered the recently published recommendations of the International Olympic Committee for international federations and organizers of international sporting events on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions and determined a number of conditions for IGF events.
“Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport shall compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes. Any such Individual Neutral Athlete, as well as all other participating Athletes, must comply with all applicable anti-doping requirements set forth in the IGF Anti-Doping Rules.”
Russian and Belarusian golfers are not significant factors on the PGA or LPGA Tours, or in the Olympic rankings.
UCI to consider transgender rules again
Just a couple of days after American transgender rider Austin Killips won the Category 2.2 Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, the Union Cycliste Internationale Management Committee convened in Cagliari, Sardinia and announced a review of its standards:
“The Management Committee decided to analyse the current situation by reopening consultation with the athletes and National Federations. Members therefore agreed to debate and take an eventual decision at its next meeting, in Glasgow, in August. The UCI’s objective remains the same: to take into consideration, in the context of the evolution of our society, the desire of transgender athletes to practise cycling. The UCI also hears the voices of female athletes and their concerns about an equal playing field for competitors, and will take into account all elements, including the evolution of scientific knowledge.”
Cycling’s current standards were considered fairly stringent, with a maximum serum testosterone level for women of 2.5 nmol/L maintained for two years, but this did not address the question of changing genders after the onset of male puberty. This was identified as an important factor by World Aquatics in its regulations issued in June 2022 and the World Athletics regulations from March of this year.
The UCI finally equalized race distances in track cycling, with the women’s Individual Pursuit increased to 4 km, the 500 m Time Trial increased to 1 km, and the Scratch event changed to 10 km for both. These changes will come into force on 1 January 2025.
The financial report showed an “expected operating loss” of CHF 4.0 million, but there was also an investment loss of CHF 9.1 million. However, reserves remain healthy at CHF 30.3 million, and “The financial plan up to the end of 2024 continues as planned, and the UCI remains in a good position to face the end of the current Olympic cycle.” (CHF 1 = $1.13 U.S.)
Diamond League starts in Doha; Giro d’Italia starts Saturday
The Wanda Diamond League is back, beginning once again in Doha (QAT) on Friday.
There are lots of good match-ups (U.S. athletes unless otherwise indicated):
● Men/200 m: World 100 m champ Fred Kerley, Olympic and Worlds silver winner Kenny Bednarek and World 400 m gold medalist Michael Norman.
● Men/3,000 m: Kenyan 1,500 star Timothy Cheruiyot (3:28.28 1,500 m) will try the 3,000 m, with strong contenders in steeplechase stars Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR: Tokyo gold) and Lamecha Girma (ETH: Tokyo silver) and Getnet Wale (ETH). Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi (7:26.81) and Australian Stewart McSweyn (7:28.02) are the ones with the experience in this race, but look out for Selemon Barega (ETH), the Tokyo 10,000 m winner.
● Men/400 m hurdles: Olympic silver winner Rai Benjamin (47.74 already this year) leads this field, with fellow Americans Trevor Bassitt (2022 Worlds bronze) and C.J. Allen (48.17 best) ready to challenge.
● Men/High Jump: All eyes on home favorite Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Tokyo Olympic and 2022 World champ, who will be challenged by Americans JuVaughn Harrison and Shelby McEwen, and Canada’s Django Lovett.
● Men/Triple Jump: Is two-time Olympic champ Christian Taylor recovered from his injuries? Is Olympic and World champ Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR) in shape? Same questions for Cubans Andy Diaz and Lazaro Martinez and Burundi’s Tokyo bronzer Hugues Fabrice Zango.
● Men/Javelin: World Champion Anderson Peters (GRN), Olympic champ Neeraj Chopra (IND), Olympic runner-up Jakub Vadlejch (CZE) and even 2015 World Champion Julius Yego of Kenya are here.
● Women/100 m: World leader and 200 m World Champion Shericka Jackson (JAM) is pitted against Americans Sha’Carri Richardson, TeeTee Terry, Abby Steiner, Teahna Daniels and Melissa Jefferson. Is 2019 Worlds runner-up Dina Asher-Smith (GBR) in shape yet?
● Women/1,500 m: Olympic and World champ Faith Kipyegon (KEN) is here, but who will challenge her? Ethiopians Hirut Meshesha, Axumawit Embaye, Freweyni Hailu and Diribe Welteji will try. American Cory McGee (4:00.34 best) could break four minutes here.
● Women/100 m hurdles: Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) will face a U.S. contingent of former Worlds winner Nia Ali, Tonea Marshall, and Alaysha Johnson, as well as Jamaican Worlds bronze winner Megan Tapper.
● Women/Steeple: Olympic champ Perth Chemutai (UGA), 2017 Worlds winner Emma Coburn of the U.S., world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (KNE) are all in, as is 2022 Worlds bronze winner Mekides Abebe (ETH).
● Women/Vault: Olympic and World champ Katie Moon and 2019/2022 Worlds silver winner Sandi Morris are both in as are Olympic bronzer Holly Bradshaw (GBR) and Worlds bronze winner Nina Kennedy (AUS).
As far as television is concerned, the meet will be streamed live on NBC’s peacock subscription service beginning at noon Eastern time, with delayed cable coverage on Sunday on CNBC, also at noon.
The first of the three Grand Tours in cycling begins on Saturday with the 106th Giro d’Italia, departing with an individual time trial along the Abruzzo coast and finishing with the 21st stage in Rome on 28 May.
The 3,448.6 km (2,142 mile) route includes three Individual Time Trials, three flat stages, four modestly hilly stages, five hilly stages and six mountain stages, including three in the final week!
Among the favorites:
● Remco Evenepoel (BEL) ~ 2022 La Vuelta winner; 2022 World Road champ
● Primoz Roglic (SLO) ~ La Vuelta winner 2019-20-21; Giro 3rd in 2019
● Tao Geoghegan (GBR) ~ 2020 Giro winner; La Vuelta 19th in 2022
● Joao Almeida (POR) ~ Giro 4th in 2020, 6th in 2021; La Vuelta 5th in 2022
● Geraint Thomas (GBR) ~ 2018 Tour de France winner; Giro DNF in 2017-20
Evenepoel, 23, has been on fire this season, winning the seven-stage UAE Tour in February, second in the seven-stage Volta a Catalunya and then winning the historic Liege-Bastogne-Liege race in April. He’s only tried the Giro once, in 2021, and did not finish.
The race will not be shown on U.S. television; it’s being streamed on the subscription-based Global Cycling Network site.
USATF publishes Road Worlds selection procedures
The first World Athletics Road Running Championships this fall in Riga, Latvia, could be the start of something big. USA Track & Field published its six-page team selection procedures last week, starting with team size:
● In the mile and 5 km, teams can bring three, but only two can start, so USATF will select two per event.
● In the half marathon, teams can bring five, but only four can start, so USATF will select four.
The selection of the mile and 5 km entries will come from the USATF National Championships from 6-9 July in Eugene, Oregon, in the “rank order of finish” in the 1,500 m and 5,000 m for men and women.
The half-marathon entries are more complicated and will be based on the World Athletics world rankings for the Half Marathon-10 km grouping as of 1 August 2023. At present, the top four Americans are:
● Men: Conner Mantz, Abbabiya Simbassa, Sam Chelanga, Leonard Korir
● Women: Keira D’Amato, Emily Sisson, Sara Hall, Emily Durgin
Further, there will be some interesting choices to be made, with the U.S. Nationals from 6-9 July, the same 1,500 m and 5,000 m qualifiers going to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest from 19-27 August and then the World Road Champs on 30 September and 1 October, two weeks after the Diamond League Final at the Pre Classic in Eugene and a week after the USATF 10 km Championships and Berlin Marathon!
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Paris 2024 ● The French newspaper Le Monde reported that the Paris 2024 organizers have received more than 300,000 applications for volunteer positions at the Games, from which 45,000 are expected to be chosen.
The organizing committee projects 30,000 volunteers will be needed for the Olympic Games and 15,000 more for the Paralympics. The report noted that 55% of candidates are women, and about a third are under the age of 25.
● Shooting ● At the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Cairo (EGY), Italy led the leader board with five medals (1-3-1), starting with a good showing in the men’s Skeet final.
Rio 2016 Olympic champ Gabriele Rossetti won the event with 39 points to 38 for teammate Elia Sdruccioli, with Tokyo Olympic silver winner Jesper Hansen (DEN: 42 years old!) third (26).
Simona Scocchetti, 37, the 2013 Worlds runner-up almost claimed another win, but ended up second in the women’s Skeet final to China’s 18-year-old Yiting Jiang, 35-33, who claimed her first ISSF World Cup individual medal.
The Mixed Team final was a 6-0 win for India (Mairaj Khan and Ganemat Sekhon) over Mexico.
Tokyo Olympic champ Jiri Liptak (CZE), 41, won the men’s Trap final, 32-28 over Italy’s 42-year-old Massimo Fabbrizi, the London 2012 silver medalist. Portugal’s Maria Coelho de Barrios defeated Chun Lin Yi (TPE: 41 and the 2002 World Champion in Double Trap!) in the women’s final, 30-27.
● Swimming ● The University of California was sued by 18 former members of the Cal women’s swimming team on Monday, alleging abuse by former coach Teri McKeever, dismissed by the university for abusive conduct and violations of school policies.
The plaintiffs include Rio Olympic 4×200 m Freestyle gold medalist Cierra Runge (now Cierra Burnell) and numerous other All-American swimmers for incidents dating back to 1994. McKeever won four NCAA team titles over 30 years at Cal and was the U.S. head women’s coach at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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