TSX DAILY: WADA report shows steady progress, but Center for SafeSport is overwhelmed; fifth World title for Adeline Gray & FIFA warns Iran

Five-time World Champion Adeline Gray of the U.S. (Photo: UWW)

≡ TSX DAILY ~ 20 September 2019 ≡

| 1. |  LANE ONE: World Anti-Doping Agency report shows progress, but SafeSport needs more help right now

Earlier this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s annual report for 2018 showed an agency continuing to expand, working steadily to push its anti-doping message, but also to find those cheating and hold them accountable.

In contrast, a story from the Associated Press described the three-year-old U.S. Center for SafeSport as underfunded and dealing with a severely increased flow of abuse complaints and far from enough staff to handle the workload.

These stories are related, as these watchdog agencies are working against chemical and personal abuse in the Olympic athlete community. But as WADA is now 20 and increasingly stable, the Center for SafeSport is struggling as it becomes better known and more and more complaints are received.

● WADA’s Annual Report notes the increased number of doping tests undertaken in 2018, about half of which are now out-of-competition tests. But beyond this is a significant expansion of its investigative team, which opened 118 cases in 2018 and has 11 full-time staff now involved.

Further, WADA compiled compliance reports on all 103 of the International Federations that are members of the Global Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and reported that almost a third had remedied their outstanding issues. That’s not enough, but it is progress.

There are also very encouraging collaborations going on between countries which need better management of their anti-doping activities and more advanced anti-doping agencies. Ethiopia and Egypt are being assisted by Great Britain; Kenya is being helped by the anti-doping agency of Norway.

The budget continues to expand as well, with 50% being paid by the International Olympic Committee. From a budget of $29.9 million in 2015, some $35.4 million was budgeted for 2018 and the expectations are for $46.6 million by 2022.

Has WADA won the doping fight? No, but it is having a major impact. The International Weightlifting Federation – nearly eliminated from the Olympic Games for 2024 – revealed at its Congress this week that it is spending 40% of its annual budget on anti-doping activities.

● On the other side is the U.S. Center for SafeSport, only formed in 2017, and now awash in new allegations of abuse coming from athletes. From a start-up average of 31 cases a month coming into the Center during its first year, the 2018 average jumped to 131 cases a month and now at an average of 239.

The Associated Press reported that the Center has closed 2,237 cases and has 1,290 still open. With a staff of 37, it is estimated that it would need to double that to keep up with the workload in 2020.

But someone has to pay for this and right now, the Center receives nearly all of its funding from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ($7.4 million) and the U.S. National Governing Bodies (about $2.1 million). The total budget for 2019 is about $10.5 million, but there is hardly money lying around from either group to give seriously more.

The U.S. government, which does contribute more than $9 million a year to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), contributes very little to the Center for SafeSport. The proposed USOPC reform bill submitted by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) requires the USOPC to fund the Center to the tune of $20 million a year, but there is not even a companion bill in the U.S. House as of yet.

In the meantime, the Center needs more help and it is not clear where it might come from. WADA and the USADA have gone through this and came out intact and functioning. The Center for SafeSport must now find a way to do the same. More here.

| 2. | WRESTLING: Adeline Gray makes U.S. wrestling history with fifth world title

Up until Thursday, four American wrestlers had won four World Championships gold medals: John Smith (62 kg: 1987-91), Jordan Burroughs (74 kg: 2010-11-15-17), Tricia Saunders (46 kg: 1996-98-99; 50 kg: 1992) and Adeline Gray (67 kg: 2012; 75-76 kg: 2014-15-18).

Now, Gray is all alone.

She won her fifth world title in Nur-Sultan (KAZ) on Thursday evening, defeating Japan’s two-time Worlds bronze medalist, Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki, 4-2, in a bout she controlled much of the way. Devastated by her seventh-place finish in Rio in 2016, she took a year off and came back to win the Worlds gold in 2018 and 2019 and is now the clear favorite for Tokyo in 2020.

The U.S. will get another women’s Freestyle medal on Friday as Tamyra Mensah is into the final at 68 kg against Sweden’s Anna Fransson. More here.

A powerful U.S, men’s Freestyle team will begin its competitions on Friday; three Americans who are already World Champions received the top seeds in their weight classes: Kyle Dake (79 kg), J’Den Cox (92 kg) and Rio Olympic champ Kyle Snyder (97 kg).

In addition, Burroughs will try to tie Gray for the most world titles by an individual American wrestler, as he goes for his fifth title at 74 kg. Our preview is here.

| 3. | WEIGHTLIFTING: China sweeps day two of the IWF Worlds

A very good day for Chinese lifters at the World Weightlifting Championships in Thailand, with both titles and three total medals.

In the men’s 61 kg division, 2018 runner-up Fabin Li had the best scores in Snatch, Clean & Jerk and a world-record total of 318 kg (~ 701 lbs.) to defeat defending champ and prior world-record holder Eko Yuli Irawan (INA: 306 kg). Irawan, however, won his sixth career Worlds medal (1-3-2).

In the women’s 49 kg class, China went 1-2 with 2018 bronze medalist Huihua Jiang moving up to gold, lifting a combined world record of 212 kg (~467 lbs.). She took the record of last year’s silver medalist, Zhihui Hou, who finished second again (211 kg). American Morghan King finished eighth at 183 kg (~403 lbs.).

| 4. | GYMNASTICS: More gold for Dina Averina, more silver for Ashram in Rhythmic Worlds

The FIG Rhythmic World Championships completed two more individual events … with the same results on the top of the podium: Russia’s Dina Averina first and Israel’s Linoy Ashram second.

Averina and Ashram went 1-2 in Clubs at 23.800 to 23.200 and then in Ribbon, with scores of 21.800 to 20.750. So far, both have four medals in four events; Averina has three golds and a bronze; Ashram has three silvers and a bronze. The All-Around is on Friday.

| 5. | FOOTBALL: FIFA President Infantino tells Iran to allow women in as spectators

In the aftermath of the stunning death on 10 September of Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire after being told she could be sentenced to jail after dressing in men’s clothes to sneak into a football match in Tehran, FIFA President Gianni Infantino posted a short, to-the-point message on the FIFA Web site on Thursday:

“I am hopeful that the Iranian Federation and the Iranian authorities were receptive to our repeated calls to address this unacceptable situation.

“I contacted them several times in the recent past and so has the FIFA administration. We have a delegation of FIFA members in Iran at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing good news from them.

“Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran.

“We understand there are steps and processes that need to be taken before this is done in a proper and safe way but now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”

The next step, of course, is suspension, but FIFA is taking it one step at a time.

| 6. | ATHLETICS: Want to bet on the World Championships?

With the spread of legal sports gambling in multiple states, USBets.com reported that there are places taking some action on the IAAF World Championships starting on the 28th.

FOX Bet in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Parx Online, also in Pennsylvania, have lines up on some events, including:

● Men/100 m: FOX Bet has American sprinters Christian Coleman at -188 to win, and Justin Gatlin as +300, with Canada’s Andre De Grasse at +400. How about Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, the 2011 World Champion? He’s a whopping +1,200!

● Men/200 m: Talk about a prohibitive favorite … Parx has Noah Lyles (pictured) as -1,000 to win (!) and -3,335 to win a medal.

● Men/800 m: Botswana’s Nijel Amos is the favorite at +140 and American Donavan Brazier is nicely priced at +250.

● Men/400 m hurdles: FOX bet has defending champ Karsten Warholm (NOR) as the favorite at -225, while American Rai Benjamin is an attractive alternative at +163.

In terms of the medal table, the U.S. is -670 to win the most medals, while Great Britain and Kenya are +700. Won’t be taking those odds.

Although the fate of the Worlds team from The Bahamas is apparently still in limbo, there’s little doubt that 400 m stars Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo will be there, even if they have to pay their own way.

Figuring on that, while the Bahamas federation and the government fight about money, the Thomas Robinson National Stadium in Nassau will be opened on the afternoons of 3-4 October for the sessions during which the 400 m finals will be run. The “watch party” is a fund-raiser for relief efforts from Hurricane Dorian. Admission will be free, but everyone is asked to bring a relief item or a $1 donation.

This is part of a larger fund-raising drive during the weekend for hurricane relief after the extensive damage from Dorian.

The women’s 100 m has one less contender after the Athletics Integrity Unit announced the provisional suspension of South African sprinter Carina Horn for a prohibited substance (Ibutamoren and LGD-4033 [Ligandrol]).

Horn had run 11.01 this season in late August and a potential finalist in Doha; she could be suspended for up to for years. She ran a lifetime best of 10.98 – in Doha – last season.

| 7.| THE LAST WORD: ESPN extends Special Olympics agreement to 2027

The Special Olympics and ESPN extended their broadcast and global presenting sponsorship rights to 2027.

The network televised the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and made a major impact for Special Olympics and the relationship has deepened from there. It’s an important promotional program for Special Olympics and one which is much cherished by ESPN and its parent, The Walt Disney Company.