THE TICKER: Swiss Tribunal dismisses Semenya appeal; Warholm, Crouser, Kiplimo, Taylor star in Ostrava; Tokyo 2020 “at any cost”?

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The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:

Athletics ● The Swiss Federal Tribunal announced Tuesday the dismissal of the appeals by Athletics South Africa and twice Olympic 800 champion Caster Semenya of the World Athletics rules for women with Differences in Sex Development (DSD).

Semenya and her federation were appealing against a 2019 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that upheld the World Athletics regulations for testosterone levels in women competing in events from 400 m to the mile only. The Swiss Federal Tribunal is the last stop for appeals and these regulations are now in effect, without doubt. The Swiss Tribunal noted:

“[I]ts examination of the content is limited by law to the question of whether the CAS decision violates fundamental and widely recognized principles of public order (‘ordre public’). That is not the case. …

“[T]he CAS has issued a binding decision based on the unanimous opinion of the experts who were consulted that testosterone is the main factor for the different performance levels of the sexes in athletics; according to the CAS, women with the ‘46 XY DSD’ gene variant have a testosterone level comparable to men, which gives them an insurmountable competitive advantage and enables them to beat female athletes without the ‘46 XY DSD’ variant. Based on these findings, the CAS decision cannot be challenged.

“Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based. … In addition to this significant public interest, the CAS rightly considered the other relevant interests, namely the private interests of the female athletes running in the ‘women’ category.”

The Swiss Tribunal also commented on the issues raised concerning “forced” use of drugs:

“[The CAS] decision is also compatible with public order from the point of view of Caster
Semenya’s alleged violation of her personality and human dignity. The medical clarifications and any necessary drug-related lowering of the testosterone level represent a considerable interference with physical integrity. However, the core area of this right is not affected. It should also be noted that the examinations are carried out by qualified doctors and under no circumstances against the will of any female athletes. Ultimately, the CAS decision is also compatible with the guarantee of human dignity. Implicated female athletes are free to refuse treatment to lower testosterone levels. The decision also does not aim to question in any way the female sex of implicated female athletes.”

For her part, Semenya has said she plans to try to compete in Tokyo in the 200 m, an event not impacted by the World Athletics DSD regulations. She tweeted:

“Chills my people. A man can change the rules but the very same man can not rule my life. What I’m saying is that I might have failed against them the truth is that I have won this battle long ago. Go back to my achievements then you will understand. Doors might be closed not locked.”

The 59th Golden Spike meet in Ostrava (CZE) turned out to be a good one, with superb performances from Karsten Warholm (NOR), Jacob Kiplimo (UGA), Ryan Crouser (USA) and a world-leading triple jump from American Christian Taylor.

Much of the focus was on Warholm, who was continuing his assault on American Kevin Young’s 1992 world mark of 46.78 in the 400 m. Running in lane eight in fairly good conditions, he rocketed out of the blocks as usual and was running strongly until he chopped his steps badly in front of the ninth hurdles and hesitated slightly over the 10th and won in 47.62, his 10th win in a row. Said Warholm:

“It is always to nice to get the victory and to win. I was a bit surprised tonight, I really thought it was a bit faster and I was also checking the board. Maybe I was getting a bit tired in the end. But still, it is very much, this is a sport and you have to take whatever you get. I actually asked the organisers to move this event [on the time schedule] and I am glad they did it. You never know.”

Crouser is also looking for a world mark in the shot and while he didn’t get close in Ostrava, he did put together an impressive win at 22.43 m (73-7 1/4), with one other throw over 73 feet. “My ambitions were to go far tonight and to throw well. This is my 4th day in the country so I am a little bit jet-lagged, a bit flat and tired today. But 22.40 – I was really happy with that and I also executed it well.

“The conditions and the circle was good and when I kind of get used to the time change, maybe a couple more meets and I will throw far. This season has been a challenge after the training in my garage.”

No one quite expected the men’s 5,000 to be such a stirring race, but it was a stunner. Last year’s Worlds silver winner Selemon Barega (ETH) was the big name in the race, but he was matched stride-for-stride by Uganda’s 19-year-old Jacob Kiplimo, the 2019 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist.

The two were all alone after the last of the pacesetters dropped at 3,000 m and it appeared that Barega has plenty of gas in the tank, but it was Kiplimo who flew ahead with 200 m to go and won easily in a lifetime best of 12:48.63, moving him to no. 12 on the all-time list.

His prior best had been 13:13.64 from 2017!

Barega finished in 12:49.08, a season’s best and his second-fastest race ever.

The one world-leading performance came on the final jump of the final field event, the men’s triple jump. World leader Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR) led almost the entire way with his second-round jump of 17.42 m (57-2), Olympic and World Champion Taylor of the U.S. stormed into the lead on his sixth and final jump at 17.46 m (57-3 1/2) and won the event and took over the outdoor world lead for 2020.

There were numerous other strong performances, in front of a modest crowd thanks to the coronavirus restrictions. Great Britain’s Jake Wightman impressed with a lifetime best 1:44.18 in the men’s 800 m and Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) won the 1,500 in 3:33.92 with a strong run down the home straight. Swede Daniel Stahl won the discus at 66.42 m (217-11), but said “I really liked the atmosphere here in Ostrava. Most of today was just about power; my technique was bad, and mentally it was bad also. It is pretty bad result for me: 66 meters.”

The women’s distances saw imposing wins for Laura Muir (GBR) at 800 m in 1:58.84, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon in 3:59.05 at 1,500 m (season’s best) and 14:37.85 for Sifan Hassan (NED), just four days after setting the world mark for the Hour, ahead of a lifetime best 14:40.51 from Kenyan Sheila Chelangat. Home favorite (and Olympic champ) Barbora Spotakova surprised herself with a win in the javelin at 65.19 m (213-10):

“This win is very important to me because it is not a secret that I usually do not do well in Ostrava. Finally, I broke the spell. I did not expect it, really, I thought that the javelin would fly somewhere to the level of 61 m. This performance really surprised me.”

The next Diamond League meet comes in Rome (ITA) on 17 September; there are seven more meets over the next eight days on the Continental Tour schedule, including the famed ISTAF in Berlin on 13 September.

Also on Tuesday was a meet in Dessau (GER), where German World Champion Malaika Mihambo became the first 7 m women’s long jumper of the season with a win at 7.03 m (23-0 3/4). German javelin star Johannes Vetter won again, but with a more “normal” 86.17 m (282-8) after scaring the world record with a monster 97.76 m (320-9) bomb in Chorzow (POL) a couple of days before.

Last Saturday, Venezuela’s World Champion Yulimar Rojas claimed an outdoor world lead in the women’s triple jump at 14.71 m (48-3 1/4).

Cycling ● The Tour de France resumed with a flat, sprinter’s stage on Tuesday that saw the usual mass finish, but this time with Irish star Sam Bennett eking out a win over Caleb Ewan (AUS) and Peter Sagan (SVK).

The top of the race standings was not affected as the top contenders all finished in a group; Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic continues as the leader. They will likely do so again on Wednesday as another sprinter’s stage is scheduled as the race reaches halfway.

At the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, Pascal Ackermann (GER) won Stage 2 just as he did Stage 1, with a tight, sprint victory over Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria. Things should get a little wilder on Wednesday for Stage 3, with five minor climbs and an uphill finish in Saturnia. A total of 155 riders are within a minute of the lead, with six stages remaining.

Football ● The coronavirus continues to implode the schedule, with CONCACAF announcing that World Cup qualification matches for Qatar 2022 will not begin until March 2021, instead of in October and November of 2020:

“Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision. Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult.”

Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Will the Games be held? Yes? No? Does anyone know?

Australian John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission, told Agence France Presse:

“It will take place with or without Covid. The Games will start on July 23 next year. …

“Their job now is to look at all the different counter-measures that will be required for the Games to take place. Some countries will have it (Covid) under control, some won’t. We’ll have athletes therefore coming from places where it’s under control and some where it is not.

“There’s 206 teams … so there’s a massive task being undertaken on the Japanese side.”

Those comments were the subject of a Tuesday news conference by Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, who said:

“All the people involved with the Games are working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year under the circumstances they’ve been handed.

“I think we have to hold the Games at any cost. I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus.”

(Hopefully Not) The Last Word ● The international fury is continuing over the fate of Iran’s Navid Afkari, 27, a wrestler who was sentenced to death – twice – by a court in Shiraz for participating in a peaceful protest in 2018.

The Global Athlete group posted a message indicating the sentence could be carried out as soon as Wednesday (9th), including:

“Iran is using Afkari’s popularity to set an example against protesting the Iranian government. This attempt to penalize an athlete for using their voice must be stopped.

“Sport leaders must enforce the highest sanction possible on the Iran sporting federations to deter the Iranian government’s infringement of basic human rights.”

It will be fascinating to see whether Afkari’s case comes up during tomorrow’s IOC Executive Board-by-video conference meeting, or is mentioned by IOC chief Thomas Bach during his news conference. Let’s hope so.

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