The Sports Examiner

TSX DAILY: France tops U.S. in FIBA World Cup; Quintana back in La Vuelta contention; Christian Coleman rips USADA and “fake fans” + Lananna to coach Virginia

Evan Fournier led France with 21 points on the way to an 89-79 win over the U.S. (Photo: FIBA)

≡ TSX DAILY ~ 12 September 2019 ≡

| 1. |  LEADING OFF: France’s fourth-quarter 22-5 run ends U.S. hopes at FIBA World Cup

Even though undefeated, the U.S. men’s national team was hardly a lock in the elimination rounds of the FIBA World Cup in China. The exhibition loss in Australia and the overtime win against Turkey showed the U.S. was vulnerable.

But with a 74-67 lead in the fourth quarter with 7:39 to play, the American squad was in a good position. But three minutes later, the game was tied and France was in the midst of a 15-2 run that had them in front by 82-76 with 2:05 to play.

Kemba Walker’s layin made it 82-78 with 1:33 left and the U.S. got the ball back, but Donovan Mitchell’s layup try was blocked by Rudy Gobert with 0:53 left and then the U.S. had foul. French guard Nando de Colo went 8-8 from the line and the game ended at 89-79 for France.

Mitchell had 29 to lead the U.S. and Evan Fournier (pictured above) led France with 22 points, Gobert had 21 and de Colo finished with 18. The loss ended U.S. streaks of 24 straight wins in World Cup play dating back to 2006 and 58 in international tournaments with NBA players.

So France moves on to the semifinals to face Argentina, which beat Serbia, on the 13th in Beijing. Australia defeated the Czech Republic, 82-70, thanks to 24 points from Patty Mills, and plays Spain.

The U.S. won’t win a World Cup medal for the first time since the 2002 tournament, and is now in the bracket for places 5-8. The American squad will play Serbia on Thursday to try to qualify for the 5th-place final. More here.

Lots more analysis to come, but the French were better down the stretch. Safe to say that no one on the U.S. team could see them being outscored 22-5 to end any game, let alone an elimination match. But that’s what happened.

| 2. | CYCLING: Quintana back in contention after Roglic’s mistake at La Vuelta

Wednesday’s hilly 17th stage from Aranda de Duero to Guadalajara at the Vuelta a Espana looked to be a race just for the sprinters, but almost turned into a disaster for race leader Primoz Roglic of Slovenia.

The 219.6 km race was blown open early with a 40-rider breakaway that was later helped by strong crosswinds that made it difficult to catch up. Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team were caught by surprise and had to work hard to make enough ground to keep the lead.

Out in front, the sprint finish came down to prior stage winners Philippe Gilbert (BEL) and Ireland’s Sam Bennett, with Gilbert winning his second stage, with a chase pack of 13 riders behind him.

One of those was Colombia’s Nairo Quintana, who started the day 7:43 behind Roglic. But although he trailed Gilbert by 10 seconds, Roglic was way back with the other contenders, who finished 5:29 back!

So with the gain of more than five minutes, Quintana is suddenly second overall, 2:24 behind Roglic and ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (+2:48) and Tadej Pogacar (SLO: +3:42).

Said Roglic afterwards, “I did a mistake for sure – I shouldn’t be in the place that I was. I should be in front. But the team saved me and did a really big effort and in the end we are still in a good position.”

Now come two more climbing stages on Thursday and Saturday, and a hilly stage on Friday before the ride into Madrid on Sunday. Roglic is on guard now, but the Thursday stage has four misery-inducing climbs across the 177.5 km route and Saturday’s stage is almost all climbing, including another uphill finish.

Roglic would be the first Slovenian winner of La Vuelta and would cap a tremendous season in which he has vaulted himself into the elite class of riders. But Quintana – the 2016 winner – still hopes for another outcome.

| 3. | ATHLETICS: Christian Coleman fires back at “fake fans” and USADA

U.S. sprint star Christian Coleman wants it to be clear that he is not a drug cheat, and that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency should know its own rules.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Coleman made his feeling clear:

“I put my heart and soul into track and field and worked hard to get where I am today. It’s simply disrespectful when fake fans speculate and talk about drugs in relation to the great athletes we have in this sport. It does nothing but hold the sport back from the popularity I know it can reach in the future. 

“I shouldn’t have to defend myself but for the first and last time I literally do not take ANY supplements or protein powders. Nothing even legal to help with recovery. Nothing. I work hard at practice, drink water and Powerade, rest, and work even harder the next day. Therefore I have never failed a drug test and never will. I’m the biggest advocate for clean sport because I know the sacrifice and what it takes to make it to this level. There have been a lot of inaccurate things said in the media over the past few weeks – it’s a shame we live in a world where clicks = money, yet people still believe everything they read.”

He wasn’t done. He recorded a 22-minute video to more fully explain his feelings about the allegations by USADA that he was subject to sanctions for missing three “whereabouts” reporting filings within a 12-month period, which were later withdrawn. Said Coleman:

“This shouldn’t even be a thing…. I think it’s a shame on USADA, the fact that this was public knowledge, the fact that they didn’t know their own rules, and the fact that they expect athletes to know the rules, but they can’t follow their own.  And it really hurts athlete’s reputations.”

He went on to note that he and his team knew that his reporting failures – according to the rules – did not fall within a 12-month period and that he was going to win at a hearing. He explained that reporting failures:

● June 2018: He suffered an injury after the 2018 Rome Diamond League meet, then flew back to Portland, Oregon for treatment instead of going home to Knoxville, Tennessee. Worried about the injury, he wasn’t thinking about updating his whereabouts; “that’s on me” he said. A tester came to see him in Knoxville, but he wasn’t there; he offered to take the test in Portland, but that is not how it works.

● January 2019: He was now training in Lexington, Kentucky and when a weightroom session was moved up to 8 a.m. instead of the usual 9 a.m., he left home early and missed the Doping Control Officer who came to see him at home. He didn’t know that he’s missed a test until he was notified by e-mail some weeks later that he’s now missed two tests. “That’s my fault,” he said.

● April 2019: Although he planned to be in Lexington, he was invited to go with the Kentucky team to the Drake Relays in Iowa. He went, but he didn’t update his whereabouts. He got a call from a Doping Control Officer, asking where he was. However, she also told him that this incident should not count as a missed test since it was an unannounced visit that was outside of Coleman’s declared window of availability. But to show good faith, Coleman found a drug-testing agency – not USADA – in Des Moines and got a test that day anyway!

And he was clear: “It has nothing to do with doping. It has nothing to do with trying to dodge tests.” He just made some mistakes, but he added, “I’m tested, like, 30-40 times a year” and he understands now that “it comes with the job” of being a professional track & field athlete.

He noted the stress of dealing with the situation, of losing as much as $150,000 from the two Diamond League meets he had to skip, and said that he received an apology by telephone from the USADA Chief Executive, Travis Tygart. It’s quite a video.

In what has to be a surprise to a lot of people, Vin Lananna (pictured) was named on Monday as the Director of Track & Field and Cross Country and Associate Athletic Director for Administration at the University of Virginia.

Lananna, 66, last coached at Oregon from 2005-12, where his teams won six NCAA titles. He had previously been at Stanford (five NCAA titles) and Dartmouth. He had been an Associate Athletic Director at Oregon since his retirement from the track and had headed TrackTown USA, the organization which staged the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, bid for and won the hosting rights for the 2021 IAAF World Championships and will stage next year’s Olympic Trials.

After being elected as President of USA Track & Field in 2016, he has been in an almost-continuous battle with the organization’s Board over conflicts of interest. He was put on “temporary administrative leave” by the USATF Board in February of 2018 and filed a grievance, asking to be reinstated in February of this year. That fight is continuing.

A special race arranged at the Nike campus in Beaverton was held on Tuesday evening. Dubbed the “Portland 5000,” the idea was to put on a single race at 9 p.m. The track was certified and the curb from the old Hayward Field was installed to meet the requirements for record marks.

The expectation was to have a race at about 13:13, but the trio of Woody Kincaid, Rio Olympic 1,500 m champ Matthew Centrowitz and U.S. 5,000 m champ Lopez Lomong. After pacesetters led the six racers through 4,200 m, Lomong took over and was cheered on by the small crowd present.

Lomong led at the bell at 12:00 and the race was on for sub-13. Kincaid finally caught up on the final turn and then sprinted to the finish, covering his last lap in 57.47 and timing 12:58.10 with Lomong at 13:0013 (60.19 last lap) and Centrowitz right behind at 13:00.39 (59.56).

The 12:58.10 stunner for Kincaid – whose previous best was 13:12.22 indoors in 2017 – moves him to no. 8 on the 2019 world list and no. 5 all-time U.S.! He finished third at the USATF Nationals in 13:26.84, but didn’t meet the World Championships standard to go to Doha. Now he has the Olympic standard for 2020!

Lomong and Centrowitz were also under the Olympic standard – and both plan to run the distance in 2020 – and their times make them no. 9 and no. 10 all-time in U.S. history. Wow!

| 4. | BOXING: AIBA World Championships on in Russia, with Cuba’s Julio La Cruz looking for fifth title

Even with all of the problems for the International Boxing Association (AIBA), now suspended by the International Olympic Committee, a big crowd of 365 fighters from 78 countries has gathered at Ekaterinburg (RUS).

No Olympic qualifying places are available from this tournament, but it could see Cuba’s Julio La Cruz  (pictured) working toward a historic fifth straight world title at 81 kg and teammate Lazaro Alvarez trying for a fourth career crown, this time at 57 kg. The 10 weight classes in 2017 have been shaved to eight for 2019, but six champions from Hamburg are back for a defense.

Cuba is favored, with the top seeds in seven of eight weight classes. The Cubans won five golds and seven medals overall to lead the medal table at the 2017 World Championships in Hamburg (GER), when 10 weight classes were conducted. They also won the most medals (7) in 2015. More here.

| 5. | SURFING: Peru’s Milanovich wins second world title at World Surfing Games

An impressive cadre of 240 riders from 55 nations are competing in the World Surfing Games in Miyazaki (JPN), with a number of Olympic qualifying spots on the line.

The women’s title went to a familiar face: Peru’s 36-year-old Sofia Milanovich, who won way back in 2004, at age 21. She out-scored Brazil’s Silvana Lima for the gold. Australia won the Aloha Cup relay title. More here.

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