TSX INTEL REPORT: Athlete shrieking over the Diamond League obscures the real issue; world title for teen Hannah Roberts; U.S. women win first two games for new coach

≡ TSX INTELLIGENCE REPORT ~ 11 November 2019 ≡

LANE ONE ● Athlete shrieking over dropped Diamond League events misses the point completely

When the International Association of Track & Field Federations (IAAF) announced a set of changes for its top-tier Diamond League meets for 2020, it did so with the intention of making the sport more attractive on television.

It shortened the broadcast time for each meet to 90 minutes from two hours, limited the number of times that the 200 m and steeplechase would be shown and essentially eliminated the triple jump and discus. The hammer throw had long ago been relegated to a separate “challenge” series.

As expected, this did not go over well at all with the triple jumpers and discus throwers. The reaction from the steeplers was more muted, but four-time World Triple Jump Champion Christian Taylor of the U.S. posted a notice on his social media accounts, calling for a new organization to be called The Athletics Association, “an association for all professional Track and Field Athletes around the world” with the goal to have “a say in how our sport is run.”

A group representing the discus community called Global Throwing sent a four-page, well-prepared letter to IAAF chief Sebastian Coe that included:

“We cannot believe that any athlete or coach in any event within the sport, agrees with the decisions taken yesterday. We believe that you and your staff are isolated in your own world trying to sell and please your paymasters rather than your own assets, namely your athletes and coaches.”

Both Taylor and the throwers are passionate and are furious to be relegated to a secondary series of meets, to be called the “Continental Tour,” to be further detailed later this month. But they have missed the issue.

Coe and the rest of the folks involved in the IAAF and the Diamond League are not out to get the jumpers or throwers or anyone else. They are trying to figure out some way to grow the sport and make it more attractive to new fans worldwide.

That’s the issue, not which events are in the Diamond League meets or not.

Coe identified this back in 2015, when he was running to be the head of the IAAF (soon to be called World Athletics). He wants to work on it now, after getting some of the major doping and corruption issues under better control during his first term.

Among Taylor, the throwers and others who are unhappy with the Diamond League changes, there are some very bright, inventive people. Solutions that make track & field more popular, more interesting and more desired by television audiences are needed and that’s where the action needs to be. Really? Yes; read on here.

● DOPING ● Banka elected President; Russian compliance meeting coming 17 November

The World Anti-Doping Agency concluded its World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland, with the as-expected election of Poland’s Witold Banka as the organization’s next President.

Banka, 35 (pictured), is the Polish Minister for Tourism and Sport, and is a former 400 m runner with a best of 46.11. His Vice President will be China’s Yang Yang, a double-Olympic gold medalist in Short Track Speed Skating. Both will assume office on 1 January 2020.

The attendees passed a “Katowice Declaration” which encourages all stakeholders “to present a unified front with a view to eradicate doping in sport; to increase resources dedicated to protecting clean sport; and to bring all perpetrators to account, without limitation.”

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart encouraged the attendees to raise the level of activity against doping, pointing out that “Tokyo 2020 will be the fifth Games where state doping and not the athletes are the issue,” and added:

“We can do more and we must do more. We cannot allow one country to steal medals. We must have a strong and independent WADA and not a weak service provider some have enjoyed in the last few years.”

Regarding Russia, the next step will be a meeting on 17 November of WADA’s Compliance Review Committee with the WADA staff and investigative team examining the “inconsistencies” between the Moscow Lab data retrieved in January and that provided by a whistleblower previously. If the committee recommends a specific course of action, the WADA Executive Committee will meet “as soon thereafter as practicable” to consider the suggestion. This could, of course, include a holding of Russia as non-compliant and trigger possible sanctions.

In the meantime, Russian officials squared off in the press concerning the data manipulation charges and the future of Russian participation in the Olympic Games.

Last Thursday, Russian Sports minister Sergey Kolobkov told the TASS news agency that “Experts say that there were no deletions and it is about technical issues regarding the system. All these issues will be clarified at the next meeting between experts from Russia and WADA,” which is expected on 17 November.

An Associated Press story, also filed last Thursday, quoted the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, Yuri Ganus (pictured), as saying of Kolobkov, “He lives in the world of illusion.”

Kolobkov replied, “Yuri … needs to do his own job and not interpret documents which don’t contain the information he is expressing publicly. The so-called manipulations which Yuri … is talking about aren’t there, and that word isn’t mentioned anywhere.”

● U.S. OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE ● By-law reforms confirmed

The governing documents of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee were changed to reflect many of the promised changes last Thursday, with the amendments effective as of 1 January of 2020.

The USOPC Board of Directors approved the modifications, which include, but are not limited to:

● The first listed goal of the organization now reads “We promote and protect athletes’ rights, safety and wellness.”

● The Board composition was changed to include three members elected directly by the Athletes Advisory Council, three from the National Governing Body Council, two members from the USOPC Alumni organization and five independent directors elected by the Board itself (total: 13 members), plus the U.S. members of the International Olympic Committee (currently: 2). Board membership is limited to two, four-year terms, except for the Chair (maximum of three terms).

● The athlete representation on committees was maintained at 20%, usually one member selected by the Athletes Advisory Council out of five positions on the group.

● Oversight of the National Governing Bodies was strengthened, with compliance audits that require a long list of actions including a demonstration of “financial operational capability to administer its sport.”

● The “Athlete Ombudsman” function was expanded and will include availability of a designated fund for use by athletes “lacking adequate resources” to file a complaint against the USOPC or a National Governing Body.

These steps are the first of many promised, and by which the USOPC hopes to avoid major changes by the U.S. Congress to the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act which governs it. While the reforms continue, it’s worthwhile to consider whether the Congress will even consider the Ted Stevens Act in view of the continuing impeachment inquiry, not to mention government funding and the 2020 election cycle.

CYCLING ● Hannah Roberts confirms favorite’s role for Tokyo with second world title

For the third year in a row, the UCI World Urban Championships were held in Chengdu (CHN), but once again the star was American teen Hannah Roberts (pictured).

She won the World Freestyle Park title for the second time in three years – she won bronze last year – and qualified for the event’s debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She led both the qualifying (89.95) and the final (90.00). Chile’s Macarena Perez Grasset was second (86.80) and grabbed the other qualifying spot.

The men’s title went to Australian Brandon Loupos, who moved up from third in 2018, with countryman (and 2027 champ) Logan Martin second, 93.20-92.90, with Americans Nick Bruce third and (defending champ) Justin Dowell fourth. More here.

FIGURE SKATING ● China’s Jin and Sui & Han win at home in Shiseido Cup of China

It’s hard to believe, but the ISU Grand Prix is already 2/3rds over, with the fourth of six events in Chongqing (CHN), and good results for the home team.

World Pairs champs Wenjing Sui and Cong Han were decisive winners, scoring 228.37 to easily outdistance teammates Cheng Peng and Yang Jin (199.97). China also went 1-2 in the men’s division, with two-time Worlds bronze medalist Boyang Jin winning and Han Yan second, 261.53-249.45.

The story of the event, however, might have been the confirmation of the newest Russian teen star, Anna Shcherbakova (15), as a contender. After a win at Skate America, she won again, ahead of Japan’s Satoko Miyahara and 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS), 226.04-211.18-209.10.

Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won a close Ice Dance competition with Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 209.90-208.55. More here.

● FOOTBALL ● Two wins in first two games for U.S women under new coach Andonovski

The Vlatko Andonovski Era started well for the U.S. women with two wins to end the year, beating Sweden, 3-2, last Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, and Costa Rica, 6-0 at Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday.

Against Sweden, the American side got off to a dream start, with Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Lloyd again (pictured) scoring in the first half-hour for a 3-0 lead and the game looked like a rout. But the Swedes came back after the hour mark, with Anna Anvegard scoring in the 75th and 79th minutes to close to 3-2. But the U.S. closed it out for the victory. More here.

Against Costa Rica, Lloyd scored in the fourth minute for a 1-0 lead, followed by Morgan Brian for a 2-0 lead at half. Sub Lynn Williams scored twice in the second half, Press also got a goal and there was a late own-goal for Costa Rica for the 6-0 final. More here.

These were the last games of the year and the U.S. women finished at 20-1-3 for 2019, unbeaten in their last 23 games after a January loss to France. The next challenge will be the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament, starting in late January. But new coach Andonovski has two wins and the team has earned some much-needed rest.

● SWIMMING ● Morozov & Campbell win FINA World Cup; Ledecky wins four at Tyr Pro Swim

Lots of swimming action on the weekend, with the end of the FINA World Cup and the start of USA Swimming’s Tyr Pro Swim Series:

● In Doha (QAT), the seventh and final leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup for 2019 saw Vladimir Morozov (RUS) finish with three wins and the seasonal title in the men’s division and Australia’s Cate Campbell win a tight competition with Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu.

Campbell’s win was all about quality vs. quantity. Hosszu won many more events during the season, but the scoring also included significant points for the top three performances in each meet, according to the FINA Points Table. Campbell was a champ on that score and her single-best performances were consistently better than Hosszu’s during the season. The Australian ended with 347 points to 312 for Hosszu, despite Hosszu winning four events in Doha and Campbell winning two and finishing second in a third. More here.

● In Greensboro, the first stage of the Tyr Pro Swim Series was held with a familiar face in the headlines: Katie Ledecky.

The great freestyler won the 200 m, 400 m and 800 m events in strong times of 1:55.68, 4:01.68 and 8:14.95 and was the only three-time winner in the meet.

This is a period of heavy training for most of the swimmers, building core fitness for the Olympic year. But many of the big stars were in the meet, with double wins for Simone Manuel (50-100 m Frees), Madisyn Cox (200 m Breast & 200 m Medley), Zane Grothe (400 m-1,500 m Frees) and teenager Luca Urlando (200 m Free, 200 m Fly and second in the 100 m Fly).

Ryan Lochte was busy, swimming in five finals; he was second in his specialty, the 200 m Medley, to world Junior Champion Carson Foster. More here.

SCOREBOARD ● Momota wins amazing 10th tournament of 2019 at Fuzhou China Open

Among the other highlights of the weekend:

Badminton: Japan’s Kento Momota won his 10th BWF World Tour event of the season at the Fuzhou China Cup, defeating no. 2-ranked Tien Chen Chou (TPE) in three sets in the final. It’s the most wins ever in a single World Tour season since the current format of the BWF SuperSeries and then the BWF World Tour started in 2007. In women’s Singles, China’s Yufei Chen won her fifth title of the year, overcoming top-ranked Nozomi Okuhara (JPN). Both Momota and Chen defended their China Open titles from 2018.

Fencing: Good results for the U.S. in the FIE World Cup opener for men, the Lowe von Bonn Foil event in Germany. Gerek Meinhardt finished second to France’s Julien Mertine in the individual event and then the U.S. trio of Race Imboden, Alexander Massialas and Nick Itkin won the team event over Korea.

More here on the weekend highlights in Archery ~ Badminton ~ Curling ~ Fencing ~ Short Track.