HEARD AT HALFTIME: WADA slaps U.S. ONDCP report; Russia’s Ganus says no to suicide (!), Ryan Crouser reaches 75-2!

Russian Anti-Doping Agency chief Yuriy Ganus
Russian Anti-Doping Agency chief Yuriy Ganus

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

Vox Populi ● Further to last Friday’s story (17th), in which International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach (GER) called the 1980 Olympic boycott of the U.S. and other nations “completely unsuccessful,” Mark Conrad, an Associate Professor of Law and Ethics at Fordham University writes:

“I would take issue with Mr. Bach’s assessment of the boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Mr. Bach’s seems to equate the lack of success of the boycott with the fact that the Soviets remained in Afghanistan for years after the Games. I don’t think anyone seriously thought that the boycott would result in a Soviet withdrawal. Rather, it expressed the displeasure by the U.S. and a number of the western nations about the unjustifiable violation of the sovereign of another nation, which would have been condemned by the UN Security Council (but for the Soviet veto).

“The boycott resulted in far [less] interest and coverage in the Games in the United States and it may have limited any propaganda value the Olympic would have had on the Soviets. It is true that the U.S. and other athletes were unfortunately and unfairly victimized by the boycott and that the Soviet bloc played tit for tat in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. While we can honestly debate whether the boycott was the correct action to take, for Mr. Bach to say that it was unsuccessful is a questionable conclusion.”

Doping ● There is a lot going on in the doping world, starting with a short report from the World Anti-Doping Agency that noted direct contacts with staff members from the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on the allegations and demands made in a report from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy:

“The request from the ONDCP, under threat of funding withdrawal, would simply result in entire regions not being represented around the WADA table, such as Africa or Latin America (with the exception of Brazil) and for a reduction of the seats allocated to sport. Not only are these proposals clearly undemocratic but they are simply against the founding principles of WADA which are an equal partnership between the world public authorities and the sport movement.

“It was very unfortunate that the report was written without due regard for the facts or context and with the clear intention to discredit WADA and mislead Congress. It is beyond WADA’s comprehension that such a report was produced when representatives from the U.S. Government have never raised any concerns about WADA’s governance model around the table of the WADA Foundation Board table over the past 20 years, and actually endorsed (at the November 2018 meeting of the Board) the WADA governance reforms that are now being implemented.

“On 26 June, WADA provided the ONDCP with a detailed rebuttal along with a request for the ONDCP to pass it to Congress in the name of fairness and accuracy. ONDCP did not inform congress but WADA was able to do so. WADA is encouraged, however, by the fact that a large number of governments, sports organizations and NADOs – some publicly, others in private – have rejected the ONDCP report, sought to distance themselves from it and offered strong support for WADA and the global anti-doping system.” (Emphasis added)

And the report added its now-familiar zinger at the end:

“WADA has reiterated to the ONDCP the fact that it was still willing to help and support the U.S. Government to address its domestic issues and in particular college and professional sports that remain outside the World-Anti Doping Code system, and do not offer proper protection to its athletes, rather than focusing their efforts in hindering the world fight against doping to the detriment of their own athletes.”

The report also noted the issues with parts of the proposed Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019, currently in the U.S. Senate for consideration. WADA is concerned with provisions for extra-territorial jurisdiction by the U.S. that could lead to a conflict between countries for purposes other than anti-doping.

On Russia, WADA noted that it continues to work through the data and samples it finally received from the infamous Moscow Laboratory. In April, evidence in 298 cases was sent to the relevant International Federation and continuing re-analysis of samples has turned up 61 more cases now being scrutinized, with more to come.

In Russia, a series of alarming tweets were posted last Saturday by Yuriy Ganus, the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, on a report investigating alleged financial irregularities (per Google Translate):

1/”We have finished analyzing the report of Finekspertiza, which was ordered by [Russian Olympic Committee]. Nothing but disappointment and anger. By the way our relations developed, I knew that we were not one team. Today, after all, I am even more proud of our Dream Team RUSADA and I understand how far from the founders [we are].”

2/”Realizing that our study has discredited a custom report, everything moves on a different plane. And as a student of the Institute of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, I worked incl. over labs for gallows and others, I want to say that I will not voluntarily leave my life and will continue to fight.”

3/”Understanding professionally possible scenarios in a situation when a report ordered by [Russian Olympic Committee] aimed at my removal from office has become untenable, I officially declare that I love life, I will not commit suicide and consider all posthumous notes received against my will.”

This followed by two days an interview Ganus gave to Sport24.ru concerning a demand by Tina Kandelaki, a television producer, to resign (per Google Translate):

“Tina Kandelaki is an authority on anti-doping or what? Or what? Or some kind of moral standard? I want to say that I respect Tina professionally: she is a media figure, a really beautiful, bright and expressive woman. But this does not mean that statements need to be made, all the more groundless. It is certainly a phenomenon, but that does not mean that one can make unfounded statements.

“If people knew what was behind it. Everything is fabricated – it’s the nineties. There is a deliberate attack on me, this is the second attack. The first was in February of this year. But I want to say that everyone should be aware of the consequences. And then WADA warned that then they would stop testing Russian athletes.”

Against this backdrop, WADA has imposed a four-year sanction on Russia for its doping offenses and the case will be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in November. Stay tuned!

Athletics ● Although the coronavirus pandemic has slowed competition, it is not stopped it. And there was a major explosion at the American Track League meet in Marietta, Georgia on Saturday.

Reigning Olympic champ Ryan Crouser (USA) had an unbelievable series that started at 22.15 m (72-8), 21.65 m (71-0 1/2), 22.24 m (72-11 3/4), 21.83 m (71-7 1/2) and then reached 22.73 m (74-7) before a final toss of 22.91 m, or 75-2!

That’s the same as Joe Kovacs reached to win the world title last year in Doha and is the equal-fourth-best throw in history:

23.12 m Randy Barnes (USA: 1990 ~ 75-10 1/4)
23.10 m Barnes (1990 ~ 75-9 1/2)
23.06 m Ulf Timmerman (GDR: 1988 ~ 75-8)
22.91 m Alessandro Andrei (ITA: 1987 ~ 75-2)
22.91 m Joe Kovacs (USA: 2019 ~ 75.2)
22.91 m Ryan Crouser (USA: 2020 ~ 75-2)

As Barnes was suspended for doping later in 1990, there are grave doubts about the validity of the two marks above, but for now they are on the list.

At the same meet, American Katie Nageotte cleared 4.83 m (15-10) for the world outdoor lead in the women’s vault.

Gymnastics ● The U.S. Olympic Trials in Artistic Gymnastics has been finalized – hopefully – for 24-27 June of 2021, again at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. That’s essentially the same dates as for this year and creates a two-week long extravaganza of Olympic qualifying events:

● 13-20 June: Swimming, in Omaha
● 18-27 June: Track & Field, in Eugene
● 24-27 June: Gymnastics, in St. Louis

The USA Diving Olympic Trials, originally scheduled for 14-21 June 2020, has been postponed, but with no new date announced.

The monthly report on expenses involved in the USA Gymnastics bankruptcy case was filed last week, with total legal fees sailing past the $11 million mark.

Thus far, the eight firms involved in the case – on both sides – have billed $11,070,044 and have been paid $6,270,875. The receivables go back to 31 December of 2018.

Judge Robin Moberly of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana has ordered both sides to come to mediation with “meaningful” settlement offers between 27 July and 14 August 2020. An amended plan of reorganization for USA Gymnastics, which would include an updated settlement option, is due by 27 August 2020.

At the BuZZerKaren Rosen, formerly of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, filed two excellent stories on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee site on two stars whose Olympic hopes in 1980 were derailed by he U.S. boycott of the Games.

Of Mary T. Meagher, who went on to win three butterfly swimming golds in Los Angeles in 1984, Rosen reported about two incidents she had with then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, both times related to events her husband, Mike Plant, was involved in:

“Meagher is one of the few 1980 Olympians with the opportunity to see President Carter, who sits in the VIP box at the baseball stadium. Meagher recalled a playoff game when a member of President Carter’s security team asked her if she minded giving up her seat. Meagher dutifully moved to the row behind.

“‘Security came back and said, ‘I’m sorry, but we need to sit here. Could you find someplace else to sit?’ Meagher said. ‘Well, the rest of the box was full, and as I was walking away, one of my neighbors said to me, ‘He screwed you again, didn’t he, Mare?’

“She just laughed it off. Meagher had also encountered the former president at the 1998 Goodwill Games, which Plant organized in New York for Turner Sports. They were in a suite and President Carter overheard someone ask Meagher, ‘So, what made you set those [1981] world records that are still standing?

“‘And I said, ‘Well the boycott of 1980,’ Meagher said. ‘I was just telling the truth because that gave me the background of training, but Mike is kicking me under the table and (Turner Sports executive) Harvey Schiller’s looking at me like, ‘Really?’

“Meagher said President Carter ‘didn’t pursue that line of questioning at all. But I feel like he needs to know that, just like we tell our kids, there are consequences to your actions.’”

Rosen also wrote of 1976 and 1984 Olympic 400 m hurdles champ Edwin Moses:

“While he believes the decision to boycott was wrong, Moses said if Team USA had competed, ‘I think we would have gotten blown away with all the doping, just like we did in 1976.’

“Moses, who is the former chair of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, suspects the Soviets would have presented an uneven playing field amid the Cold War atmosphere.

“‘I think we would have had everything from food poisoning to wrong schedules to white noise,’ Moses said, ‘and all the drug use that they were doing back then was completely unabated.’”

But he would have liked to have tried. After he lowered his own world record to 47.13 in July, East Germany’s Volker Beck won the event in Moscow at 48.70. Ridiculous.