TSX DAILY: Iran’s Mollaei not seeking German asylum (yet); Coleman cleared of doping issue and six teams on to FIBA World Cup second round

International Judo Federation President Marius Vizer (AUT)

≡ TSX DAILY ~ 3 September 2019 ≡

| 1. |  LEADING OFF: Judo chief Vizer in public Q&A while Mollaei is in own German apartment, not seeking asylum

The drama over Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei continued on Monday, with comments from all sides in the aftermath of the end of the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Japan:

● Mollaei spoke over the weekend with a London-based Iranian media agency and The Jerusalem Post reported:

“While declaring his love for Iran, Mollaei also expressed regret that he may not be able to compete for Iran. Mollaei also noted that he has had a visa and a residence in Germany and was not seeking asylum, saying that reports to that effect were fabricated.

“‘I’m not moving to Germany,’ said Mollaei. ‘I did not ask for asylum, and I’m not a refugee. I own an apartment in Germany.’”

● International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer (AUT: pictured above) answered questions for an hour over Twitter using the hashtag #AskVizer and gave some remarkable answers. On the subject of Iran, he promised – as he did previously – “Soon the procedure against Iranian Judo Federation will start and we will act accordingly to our rules, judo principles and Olympic Charter.”

There were also complaints about anti-Israel behavior by Algeria’s Fethi Nourine, who didn’t show up for the fight against Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the third round of the ‘73 kg class. Vizer promised that this and allegations of bad behavior vs. 2018 World Champion Guram Tushishvili (GEO) in his losing bronze-medal bout with Roy Meyer (NED) would be heard by the IJF’s Ethics Commission.

● In Iran, the head of the National Olympic Committee, Reza Salehi Amirisaid “Saeid Mollaei can go back to Iran without any problems and we welcome him with open arms.”

So far, Mollaei is staying put in Germany; more details here.

While the ultimate resolution of all of the issues raised by the drama surrounding Mollaei is in the future, Vizer’s public and forthright approach to Iran’s treatment of its 2018 World Champion was astonishing. He and his federation rushed to Mollaei’s assistance; if you haven’t done so already, please see this IJF-produced recap of what happened to the Iranian in Tokyo.

If there ever was a demonstration – taking the IJF at its word – of “athlete-centric” behavior by an international federation, this was it. And the drama is continuing …

| 2. | ATHLETICS: USADA drops complaint vs. Coleman on technical grounds; big meet in Croatia Tuesday

The United States Anti-Doping Agency withdrew its proposed anti-doping violation against U.S. 100 m champion Christian Coleman on Monday on technical grounds after conferring with the World Anti-Doping Agency on a section of its World Anti-Doping Code procedures.

In the simplest terms, Coleman (pictured) was charged with three failures to properly update his “whereabouts” within a 12-month period, on 6 June 2018, 16 January 2019 and 26 April 2019. However, according to the WADA procedures for such violations, a missing “whereabouts” filing is charged as of the first day of the calendar in which it happened, since the violation is against the plan filed for that quarter.

So, Coleman’s 6 June 2018 filing failure is charged as a failure on 1 April 2018 and therefore only two filing failures took place within any 12-month period which would create an anti-doping violation (by one day!). So, Coleman is free and clear unless the Athletics Integrity Unit or WADA itself wants to follow up with its own complaint against Coleman.

The USADA noted for the record that it tested Coleman 20 times in the 20 months in the 2018-19 period thus far; this does not count additional tests Coleman would have had at foreign competitions such as Diamond League meets during this time. More details here.

While the proposed violation was technical – no one has accused Coleman of taking performance-enhancing drugs – and the resolution was on technical grounds, the shrieking over favoritism started immediately. Renee Anne Shirley, the former head of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission wrote on Twitter:

“I’m like a broken record: The global AD system led by WADA is broken! A sham! Throw the book @ small fry. Stretch the definition of ‘athlete’ to ridiculous lengths to pad +ves but allow creative lawyering/move goalposts/don’t make damning info public re ‘stars’!

“Tired of it all!”

The next move is actually up to WADA, as to whether it will change its procedures concerning this interpretation of its own regulations.

Although not a Diamond League meet, a pretty good meet is coming Tuesday at the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb, Croatia, an IAAF World Challenge meet. Among the highlights:

● Men’s 100 m with Americans Justin Gatlin (2017 World Champion) and Michael Rodgers (2019 Pan American Games gold medalist);

● Men’s 800 m, with world leader Nijel Amos (BOT) vs. Rio Olympic silver winner Taoufik Makhloufi (ALG) and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski;

● Women’s 400 m, with all three medalists back from the 2017 Worlds: winner Phyllis Francis (USA), silver winner Salwa Eid Naser (BRN), who has a 12-meet unbeaten streak in the event and American Allyson Felix, in her first race since the U.S. Nationals in late July.

The biggest cheers will likely be for two-time World Champion Sandra Perkovic (CRO: pictured), trying to work back into shape to challenge for another world title in Doha.

In the shot put held in the city center on Monday – in rainy conditions – New Zealand’s Tom Walsh was a clear winner at 21.98 m (72-1 1/2), ahead of Americans Darrell Hill (21.50 m/70-6 1/2) and Joe Kovacs (2.22 m/69-7 1/2). Look for results here.

South Africa’s 2016 Olympic and 2017 World Champion in the 400 m, Wayde van Niekirk declared himself out of the forthcoming World Championships in Doha as he continues to recover from surgery on his right knee following an injury suffered in a celebrity touch-rugby game in 2017.

| 3. | BASKETBALL: Six teams clinch second-round berths in FIBA men’s World Cup

Through the first two games in the four groups, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Spain, Serbia and Italy are through to the second round. The key game on Monday was in Group C, with Spain’s 73-63 win over Puerto Rico (guard Sergio Liull pictured); the Puerto Ricans and Tunisia will play on the 4th for the right to go to the second round. The standings through two games in groups A-D:

● Group A: 1. Poland (2-0); 2. China (1-1); 3. Venezuela (1-1); 4. Ivory Coast (0-2)

● Group B: 1. Argentina (2-0); 2. Russia (2-0); 3. Nigeria (0-2); 4. South Korea (0-2)

● Group C: 1. Spain (2-0); 2. Puerto Rico (1-1); 3. Tunisia (1-1); 4. Iran (0-2)

● Group D: 1. Serbia (2-0); 2. Italy (2-0); 3. Angola (0-2); 4. Philippines (0-2)

The U.S. plays Turkey in Group E on Tuesday morning with both teams at 1-0.The toughest group, Group H, has first-game winners Australia playing Senegal and Lithuania playing Canada.  Look for scores here.

| 4. | BOXING: IOC sets qualifying competitions, while AIBA continues to implode

The International Olympic Committee announced the four continental qualifying competitions for the 2020 Olympic tournament last week and the final qualifying event. The schedule:

● Asia/Oceania: 3-14 February in Wuhan (CHN)
● Africa: 20-29 February in Dakar (SEN)
● Europe: 13-23 March in London (GBR)
● Americas: 26 March-3 April in Buenos Aires (ARG)
● Final Qualifier: 13-24 May 2020 in Paris (FRA)

While the qualifiers were being announced, the suspended International Boxing Association (AIBA) is readying its own 2019 World Championships for men that starts Saturday and runs through the 21st in Yekaterinburg (RUS).

The AIBA Executive Committee met in Istanbul (TUR) last Wednesday (28th). Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane (MAR) wrote in a Web post that “we hear a lot of speculations toward potential bankruptcy of AIBA and on this I would like to state that this is not an option to consider, we are working on restructuring AIBA and we have options on the table to make AIBA sustainable. The Executive Committee remain to work as a united team to overcome the problem that AIBA is facing.”

The Around the Rings Web site reported that the meeting didn’t go smoothly. Expected to resign, Moustahsane remained in office and while the election of a new president was supposed to be at a November Congress, that has been put off for some months. Executive Director Tom Virgets (USA) was terminated – he had offered to do so after AIBA was suspended, but was asked to stay on – and the AIBA office may have no staff left.

The World Championships is being run by the Russian boxing federation.

| 5. | ICE HOCKEY: NHL signals it will continue with current labor agreement to 2021-22

The National Hockey League passed on its opportunity to cut the current labor agreement with the NHL Players Association short and will let it continue through to the end of the 2021-22 season.

The league’s option passed on 1 September; the players now have the right to do the same, with a deadline of 15 September.

Allowing the current labor agreement to continue in its existing format will cover the period of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN). The NHL famously skipped allowing its players to participate in the 2018 Winter Games in Korea, but with China an important future market for the league, the attitude might be different. NHL officials said no decision has been made on Olympic participation as yet.

| 6. | SCOREBOARD: Brady Ellison wins again; Italy takes men’s volleyball U-19 title

More highlights from this past weekend included yet another title for World Champion Brady Ellison, (pictured) this time a successful defense of his USA Archery National Field Championship. Held in Ashland, Ohio, he won easily, scoring 777 points to 684 for Josef Scarboro. The women’s Recurve title was won by Tatyana Muntyan, with 654 points.

In volleyball, Italy won the men’s FIVB World U-19 Championships, defeating Russia, 3-1, in the final in Tunisia. Argentina won the bronze medal and Italian Outside Hitter Tommaso Rinaldi was named Most Valuable Player. The U.S. finished second in its group (2-2), then lost in the Round of 16 and finished in 15th place.

| 7. | COMING ATTRACTIONS: Six World Cup and World Champs finals this week

It’s the championship season for summer sports and this week’s program includes
major events:

● Archery: World Archery World Cup Final in Moscow (RUS);
● Athletics: IAAF Diamond League finals in Brussels (BEL);
● Beach Volleyball: FIVB World Tour Finals in Rome (ITA);
● Boxing: AIBA men’s World Championships in Yekaterinburg (RUS);
● Canoe-Kayak: ICF Slalom World Cup Final in Prague (CZE);
● Surfing: World Surfing Games in Miyazaki (JPN).

There is also the third leg of the U.S. women’s football team’s “Victory Tour” coming Tuesday evening vs. Korea in St. Paul, Minnesota, a men’s “friendly” vs. Mexico in New Jersey, and many more events.