ATHLETICS Panorama: Lananna restored to USATF Presidency by Court of Arbitration for Sport

USA Track & Field President Vin Lananna (Photo: Wikipedia, by trackinfo)

Hours before the opening of the 2019 USA Track & Field Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ordered that Vin Lananna be reinstated as the organization’s elected President.

Lananna, now the head coach for cross country and track & field at the University of Virginia, was elected by the USATF membership as a reform candidate in 2016, but was put on “administrative leave” in early 2018 due to perceived conflicts of interest due to his affiliation with Track Town USA, the Olympic Trials organizing committee in Eugene, Oregon. He was also interviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its probe into sports bribery that primarily focused on soccer.

But Lananna left Track Town USA and his position as an Associate Athletic Director at the University of Oregon to go to Virginia, and after filing a grievance with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, received word on Thursday of his immediate reinstatement.

And he was on the podium Thursday evening for the opening of the USATF Annual Meeting. He presented several awards and will preside as Chair and President at the Board meetings held this week.

Activists within USATF have been pushing for Lananna’s reinstatement, and he says he plans to run for re-election in 2020 … and be able to actually serve a full term.

USATF announced Donavan Brazier and Dalilah Muhammad as Athletes of the Year, winning the Jesse Owens Award and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award, respectively.

Brazier won the World Championships gold at 800 m in an American Record 1:42.34, won the Diamond League title at 800 m and set an American Indoor Record at 1:44.41 at the Millrose Games.

Muhammad not only won the World Championships in the 400 m hurdles, but set two world records in the event. She won the U.S. title in rainy conditions in Des Moines, Iowa in 52.20 in late July and then lowered the mark to 52.16 to win at the Doha Worlds.

Both are now favorites in their events for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Muhammad’s coach, Lawrence “Boogie” Johnson was honored as the Nike Coach of the Year, the second time he has won the award (also in 2013).

World Athletics handed out its Athlete of the Year awards in late November, with Muhammad winning the women’s award and marathon star Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) winning the men’s award.

Kipchoge’s best-known achievement was his time trial in Vienna, Austria, in which he became the first runner to complete the marathon distance in under two hours, in 1:59:41. The mark was not eligible for record status due to the pacing, hydration and food-aid program on the course.

But in competition, he was just as superb, winning the London Marathon in 2:02:37, the no. 3 performance of all time.

British distance star Mo Farah confirmed that he will be returning to the track, with the aim of winning the 10,000 m in Tokyo for a third consecutive Olympic Games.

Farah moved to the marathon after his 2016 Rio wins in both the 5,000 m and 10,000 m and a gold (10,000 m) and silver (5,000 m) at the 2017 World Championships. He won the Chicago Marathon in 2018 in a European record of 2:05:11, but finished “only” fifth in London in 2019 (2:05:39) and eighth at Chicago (2:09:58).

Will he still have the speed at age 37? Will he be dogged by continued inquiries into his time with now-suspended Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar? Time will tell, but Farah must be counted among the leading contenders for Tokyo, although he has not raced at 10,000 m since the 2017 Worlds.

The Athletics Integrity Unit continues issuing sanctions for doping and other violations, but what might be the start of solutions to the problems in Kenya was held on Wednesday.

What was called the “2020 Road Running Integrity Program” was held in Eldoret, Kenya – the heart of the running community – by the AIU in partnership with Athletics Kenya and the Kenyan Anti-Doping agency.

The AIU tweeted that the seminars directly reached “over 140 road runners and 175 top track and field athletes” and included participation by marathon world-record holders Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei. Hopefully, this will be the start of a turn away from doping in Kenya, which has had 17 athletes sanctioned by the AIU alone in 2019.