HEARD AT HALFTIME: Carter named LA28 chief executive; Niyonsaba gets 2,000 m world record, Crouser 74-11 1/4 in Zagreb!

Kathy Carter, new chief executive of the LA28 organizing committee (Photo: LA28)

News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:

● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● The International Testing Agency reported that it collected 6,200 samples from 4,255 athletes from 171 countries at the Tokyo Games.

The ITA noted that this meant “that more than one-third of the participating athletes were subject to at least one doping control” (actually, 36.5%). So far, just six doping violations have been identified from the Games.

The testing was carried out on a targeted basis, designed to check on the most likely medal winners. The most-tested athletes came from the U.S., China, Australia, Russia and Great Britain in that order; the most-tested sports were Athletics, Aquatics, Cycling, Rowing and Weightlifting.

The positive test for British sprinter C.J. Ujah was confirmed on Tuesday, meaning Britain’s men’s 4×100 m silver medal is almost certain to be forfeited, the only Tokyo Olympic medal to be impacted by doping so far.

● Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● The LA28 organizing committee named its Chief Revenue Officer, Kathy Carter, as Chief Executive Officer.

Carter, 52, has been responsible thus far for the sales of sponsorships for the 2028 Games, working in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and NBC Sports. As part of her LA28 role, she has been the President of U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Properties, the entity actually doing the selling.

She will transition from being based in the New York area to Los Angeles and take control of the planning and staging of the 2028 Games, now seven years away. The existing staff of about 100 – many of which are on the marketing side – will expand exponentially; the Tokyo 2020 organizers reported a full-time staff of 7,000 and more than 70,000 volunteers for its Games.

Carter’s career has been in the sponsorship sales area in soccer, and she played a key role in the development of Major League Soccer as the head of corporate marketing from 1994-99 and as Executive Vice President (2003-10) and then head of Soccer United Marketing from 2010-18.

A star goalkeeper at William & Mary, she is the third woman to have the senior executive position in an Olympic organizing committee, after Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki (GRE) in Athens in 2004 and Japan’s Seiko Hashimoto, who is the President of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

LA28 has not had a CEO since Gene Sykes stepped down at the end of 2018, after a leading role in the bid effort. John Harper has been the senior executive since, serving as Chief Operating Officer, and is expected to continue.

Although not a veteran of multiple Games organizing committees, Carter has an excellent background for the LA28 position, having been deeply involved in the development and success of the landmark 1994 FIFA World Cup in the U.S. That organizing committee was also headquartered in Los Angeles and incorporated many of the management concepts of the revolutionary 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

● XXVI Olympic Winter Games: 2030 ● The newest interested site for the next open Winter Games is Ukraine.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) was in Kiev last weekend for ceremonies to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and was told by Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the country is determined to become a host for the Olympic Winter Games.

According to a statement, Zelensky indicated that the NOC is ready to enter into the “Dialogue Phase” with the IOC and will visit the IOC headquarters in Lausanne soon.

Said Zelensky in the statement, “The big dream is the Olympic Games in Ukraine and I really believe in it. I am sure that our great state deserves to host the Olympic Games.”

Ukraine joins Canada (Vancouver), Japan (Sapporo), Spain (Barcelona-Pyrenees) and the U.S. (Salt Lake City) in showing interest in 2030.

● Doping ● The World Anti-Doping Agency Executive Board met on Tuesday in Istanbul (TUR), and among other actions, declared eight anti-doping organizations as non-compliant, with a 21-day window to dispute the findings according to the relevant statutes. These include the national anti-doping organizations in Montenegro, Romania, Thailand, the German Community of Belgium, North Korea and Indonesia. If their issues are not resolved in a timely way, they could be suspended (as will the athletes from their countries).

Further, 10 anti-doping organizations were given four months to reconcile not-conformities with the World Anti-Doping Code: Greece, Iran, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Uzbekistan and three Belgian organizations for the Brussels, French and Flemish communities.

In terms of testing, WADA reported that total numbers of tests have returned to the pre-Covid levels from 2019, for both in-competition and out-of-competition sampling.

● Athletics ● Ryan Crouser was at it again, dominating the shot put at the Hanzekovic Memorial meet in Zagreb (CRO), winning with his fourth-round throw of 22.84 m (74-11 1/4) on Monday evening. New Zealand’s Tokyo bronze winner Tom Walsh was second (22.39 m/73-5 1/2) and silver medalist Joe Kovacs of the U.S. was third (21.70 m/71-2 1/2).

Crouser’s career year, topped by the world record and his second Olympic title, now includes the 16 best outdoor throws in the world in 2021. Staggeringly great.

In the main portion of the meet on Tuesday, Burundi’s distance sensation Francine Niyonsaba set a world record in the rarely-run 2,000 m in 5:21.56, ahead of Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu (5:25.86). Niyonsaba crushed the 5:23.75 mark by Ginzebe Dibaba (ETH) from 2017. Also:

● The men’s 100 m looked like the U.S. Olympic Trials, with Marvin Bracy emerging as a serious threat for 2022 at 9.86 (wind: +0.8 m/s), ahead of Ronnie Baker (9.97), Trayvon Bromell (10.03) and Kyree King (10.17).

● London 2012 gold medalist Kirani James (GRN) won the men’s 400 m over Isaac Makwala (BOT), 44.46-45.15.

● After five years, American Devon Allen finally got a new lifetime best in the 110 m hurdles, winning in 12.99 (+0.7) – the 22nd man to run under 13 seconds and 13th American – and beating Olympic medalists Ronald Levy (JAM: 13.11) and Hansle Parchment (13.l2). Wow!

K.C. Lightfoot of the U.S. scored a pole vault win over World Champion and countryman Sam Kendricks, 5.87 m (19-3) to 5.82 m (19-1). Olympic silver winner Chris Nilsen (USA) was fifth, also at 5.82 m.

● The women’s 200 m was another win for Namibian teen Christine Mboma, who won in 22.04 (+0.3), beating Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (22.30).

● Another big series for Olympic champ Valarie Allman of the U.S., reaching 68.87 m (225-11) in round three and then 69.63 m (228-5) – the no. 5 throw in American history – to win in round six! Two-time Olympic champ Sandra Perkovic (CRO) was second at 66.48 m (218-1).

There’s one more Continental Tour Gold-level meet on the schedule, the Kip Keino Classic on Saturday (18th) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The final standings of the World Athletics Challenge for Combined Events were confirmed, with Germany’s Kai Kazmirek taking his second title in this series, with 24,500 points.

American Kendell Williams moved up from third in 2019 to the top in 2021, scoring 19,574 points to best Maria Vicente (ESP: 18,695). By winning, Williams gets a direct entry into the 2022 World Championships in Eugene.

Russia’s Olympic women’s high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene, a three-time World Champion, is already worried about being able to attend the 2022 Worlds in the U.S. She told the TASS News Agency:

“There is worry for sure. But we want to start training for this event long before and particularly address the visa issues. I intend to draw [Russian Athletics Federation] attention as well as the Sports Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to this because it is not just a commercial tournament that will be held in Eugene. I definitely don’t want to miss a world championship and we hope for real help and not just media statements.”

Lasitskene and Anzhelika Sidorova, the 2019 World women’s vault Champion, could not obtain U.S. visas to compete in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in August.

World Athletics announced that a “World Tour” program of gold-silver-bronze level meets would be set up for Cross Country, Combined Events and Race Walking programs beginning almost immediately:

“The development of these tours is part of a concerted effort by World Athletics to create a logical long-term global calendar of international events. It will also ensure more top-level competition opportunities and exposure for athletes in all areas of the sport.”

These Tour programs will replace the existing challenge and permit series; prize money will be available on a per-meet and series-wide basis.

Sad news from Russia that two-time Olympic hammer winner Yuriy Syedikh passed away on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.

Syedikh set four world marks in the hammer – from 1980, 1984 and 1986 (2) – and still owns the world record of 86.74 m (284-7) from 1986. In fact, he owns eight of the top 10 throws of all time and would have been the favorite for a third Olympic gold but for the Soviet boycott of 1984.

He also won the Olympic silver in 1988 and gold in the 1991 World Championships. He was accused of doping, but always denied it.

Devoted fans of track & field are deeply saddened by news of terminal cancer for British author, journalist and statistician Mel Watman, now in a nursing home in Ilford, England. Watman, now 83, has been one of the sport’s leading journalists for decades, writing for Britain’s Athletics Weekly from 1954-88 and co-editing the highly-respected Athletics International newsletter with Peter Matthews since 1993.

He has written numerous books, such as The Encyclopedia of Athletics (five editions), History of British Athletics, the official histories of Britain’s Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) and Women’s AAA, and My Life in Athletics, a memoir, in 2017.

Watman loved covering meets in the U.S. and true to his love of numbers, enjoyed side trips to the gaming tables of Las Vegas, where he always had fun, if not always coming out a winner. All best wishes to Mel and his family in this difficult, difficult time.

● Football ● The sites for the next set of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches is now fixed for the U.S. Men’s National Team: 7 October vs. Jamaica in Austin, Texas; 10 October vs. Panama in Panama City and 13 October vs. Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio.

The U.S. went 1-0-2 in the first match set.

CONCACAF announced that it had been invited to participate in the development of the world football calendar for 2025 and beyond. Of interest was this preview of the approach:

“Our initial analysis is that we recognize the merits of creating entirely new international men’s, women’s, and youth football calendars which are underpinned by fewer international windows, reduced travel for players, friendlies being replaced by meaningful matches, and a more balanced structure for the overall benefit of football development globally.”

That’s a recipe for very substantial change.

The South American confederation – CONMEBOL – issued a statement criticizing the under-study concept of holding the FIFA World Cup every two years, including (via Google Translate):

“Although at some point CONMEBOL supported the project in question, technical analyzes showed that it is highly unviable.”

In addition: “A World Cup every two years could distort the most important football competition on the planet, lowering its quality and undermining its exclusive character and its current demanding standards. …

“A World Cup every two years would represent an overload that is practically impossible to manage in the international competition calendar.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed that Brazilian Ricardo Terra Teixeira was found to have violated Article 27 of the FIFA Ethics Code (bribery), fined CHF 1 million, and banned for life from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level, is confirmed.”

Teixeira was appealing FIFA’s July 2019 decision against him for bribes taken during his term as head of the Brazilian Football Confederation and as a FIFA Executive Committee member; as much as $41 million in bribes related to the sale of World Cup television rights was involved.

● Weightlifting ● The International Weightlifting Federation confirmed two important dates and places, with the naming of Tashkent (UZB) as the location for the 2021 World Championships and elections for its officers and Executive Board.

On the edge of being suspended from the Olympic program of Paris after revelations of doping cover-ups, bribery and bad governance of all kinds, the 2021 Worlds will be held from 7-17 December, followed by the Electoral Congress on 20-21 December.

The federation’s future will be in the balance.

● Wrestling ● London 2012 Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs did not make the U.S. Olympic Team for Tokyo, but he’s back on the U.S. World Championships team after a convincing win over Alex Dieringer, 10-5 and 4-3 in the finals of the USA Wrestling men’s Freestyle World Team Trials in Lincoln, Nebraska last Sunday.

Burroughs made the move up to 79 kg, as his historic 74 kg spot was already taken by Tokyo bronze winner Kyle Dake. It’s an eighth World Champs team for Burroughs, 33, to go along with Olympic berths in 2012 and 2016.

Fellow World Championships medal winners James Green (70 kg), J’den Cox (92 kg) and Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kg) also won at the Team Trials and will compete in the Worlds in Oslo (NOR) in early October.

In the women’s Freestyle finals, three Worlds veterans made the U.S. team: Jenna Burkert at 55 kg (fourth Worlds appearance), Forrest Molinari at 65 kg (third Worlds) and Tokyo Olympian Kayla Miracle (second Worlds) at 62 kg.

Olympic veterans Ben Provisor (82 kg) and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg) won their Worlds slots in the Greco-Roman Team Trials; it will be the fourth Worlds for Hancock. Patrick Smith made his third U.S. Worlds Greco team by winning at 82 kg.

● At the BuZZer ● The irrepressible Lolo Jones was named to the U.S. women’s National Team for the fifth time in her career, following the USA Bobsled Push Championships. That puts her in the race for Beijing, where three U.S. sleds are expected to compete. She tweeted:

“My First Olympics was The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

“13 years later and my last Olympic push is for Beijing Winter Olympics. Here we go…”

and

“[I]t’s back [to] training. Traveling with 6 girls all fighting for the same Olympic spots… add a sprinkle of covid uncertainties and my next 5 months will be more drama than [any] reality tv show I’ve ever been on”

For Jones, now 39 (!), that’s saying something!

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