TSX REPORT: Colon asks $30 million for SafeSport; Russian Deputy P.M. OK with Russians at Paris Games; Lyles aiming at records in 2024!

Upset Pairs World Champions Maxime Deschamps and Deanna Stellato-Dudek of Canada (Photo: ISU)

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1. Colon estimates SafeSport needs $30 million a year
2. Chernyshenko says Russians should go to Paris; Pozdnyakov blames U.S.
3. IBA decries IOC’s “circus management and clown behaviour”
4. Lyles knows what earns a 4×400 relay berth in Paris
5. U.S. survives, Mexico thrives in CONCACAF Nations League semis

A U.S. House Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Thursday explored the issues with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, focusing on changes in policies, procedures and funding. SafeSport chief executive Ju’Riese Colon said that at the current pace, a rise in funding to $30 million a year will be needed.

● The Russian Deputy Prime Minister said that if Russian athletes do not have to sign a declaration against the invasion of Ukraine, the decision whether to compete at the Paris Olympic Games should be up to them. The head of the Russian Olympic Committee blames the U.S. for the sanctions imposed by the International Olympic Committee.

● The International Boxing Association, head by Russian Umar Kremlev, once again criticized the IOC, this time focusing on Tuesday’s comments that unless a new international federation for Olympic boxing is formed – the IBA has been kicked out – the sport will not be included in the LA28 sports program. The IBA statement called the comments “circus management and clown behaviour from Thomas Bach’s camp.”

● Noah Lyles is the star of the latest World Athletics “Inside Track” podcast, talking about his goals for 2024 in the sprints and relay, and explaining that his added strength work allows him to think about a possible leg on the U./S. 4×400 m relay in Paris.

● At the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals, the U.S. tied Jamaica in the final seconds of stoppage time, then won 3-1 in extra time. Mexico shut down Panama, 3-0, and will meet the U.S. for the championship on Sunday evening.

World Championships: Figure Skating (Canada’s Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps surprise with Pairs gold; Uno leads men’s Short Program) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (NFL Red Zone’s Scott Hanson to host Peacock “Gold Zone”) = International Olympic Committee (IOC hit by African Union fake calls) = World Anti-Doping Agency (2: Cambodia now non-compliant; guidance notes on recreational drugs) = France (sports minister reports 300+ accusations of abuse in 2023) = Cycling (Balsamo wins sprint for women’s Brugge-De Panne) = Skeleton (Yin wins Lake Placid World Cup finale, Weston wins season title) = Swimming (corporate “pool party” contest for U.S. Olympic Trials!) ●

Colon estimates SafeSport needs $30 million a year

At a well-attended hearing of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, U.S. Center for SafeSport chief executive Ju’Riese Colon told legislators that an annual budget of $30 million is needed to deal with the current flood of cases:

“Based on the trajectory of cases, I would say that our budget needs to be around $30 million.”

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), who has pushed for more governmental funding of SafeSport, observed, “One of the reasons we have these long delays right now, is because you simply don’t have enough investigators to investigate it as far as you want to.”

Colon agreed, and added “If we are to get 25%, 50%, 100% more cases over, let’s say, the next 3-5 years, we will continue to have this conversation [about delays].”

The Center’s 2022 Annual Report showed total revenues of $23.76 million, of which $20 million came from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and $2.39 million from the Federal government (94.2%).

Colon was one of four panelists, also including Nicole Deal, Senior Vice President for Security and Athlete Safety of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, former NWSL soccer player Mana Shim, now Chair of the U.S. Soccer Federation Participant Safety Task Force, and Craig Cress, chief executive of USA Softball.

Shim crystalized the view of many, noting “abuse in our sport was rooted in youth soccer,” and listing the primary legislative reforms desired by athletes and U.S. National Governing Bodies:

“First, we need increased transparency by SafeSport. The lack of information sharing is standing in the way of protecting athletes from abuse. If SafeSport does not share information about the allegations it receives, its investigative process, or any findings it might make, we cannot develop an understanding of what appropriate safety measures can and should be instituted.”

● “Second, we need to limit the number of SafeSport investigations that end in administrative closure. Administrative closure is when SafeSport closes a matter without any findings, resolution on the merits, sanctions, or public record of the allegations.

“The administrative closure process leaves parties in limbo indefinitely or, worse, allows sexual predators to fall through the cracks and remain in the sport without restriction. This problem is made worse by the sheer volume of cases SafeSport ‘resolves’ in this manner. In soccer, approximately 89% of all cases involving sexual misconduct with no criminal disposition are administratively closed.”

● “Third, we need to ensure that U.S. Soccer and other NGBs can take action when SafeSport does not. When SafeSport administratively closes a matter, it maintains exclusive jurisdiction. If an NGB like U.S. Soccer tries to take any sort of action to protect athletes, SafeSport will report them to Congress and initiate an investigation against the NGB. We believe that NGBs should be allowed to take some form of action in cases following an administrative closure so they can ensure abuse does not occur in the future.”

“Finally, we need to rethink the appeals process. SafeSport’s appeals process gives respondents who are found to have engaged in harassment or abuse the right to an entirely new fact-finding process. Rather than rely on the record of the original investigation, victims of abuse who were brave enough to participate in an investigation are forced to go through the process all over again.

“In cases where the victim is unwilling to participate in a second proceeding, SafeSport has vacated its findings, or arbitrators have overturned SafeSport’s decisions, resulting in SafeSport lifting sanctions against abusers, even after they had been found by substantial evidence to have committed sexual misconduct.

Cress explained that the logic behind the original, 2017 SafeSport legislation was sound, but no longer applies:

“There seems to be an assumption that, by regulating the NGBs, all youth sports participants are covered and protected; however, that is an incorrect assumption.

“In just our sport of softball, there are at least 25 other organizations that are conducting softball events that are not obligated to meet SafeSport requirements or adhere to SafeSport policies, including the Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policies.

“This means that there are hundreds of thousands of youths participating in play where the adults are not SafeSport-educated and potentially not had any background check screening in just the sport of softball alone. Those athletes are as equally important and equally deserving of protection as the athletes participating in USA Softball programs – yet they are not receiving the benefit of those policies and procedures.”

In fact, Cress and Subcommittee Chair Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia) both noted that some of these unregulated leagues actually promote themselves by stating that SafeSport oversight does not apply!

Colon was closely questioned about administrative closures; she explained:

“An administrative closure for us is a way for us to maintain the ability to re-open a case. … We hold on to cases in many instances through administrative closure to ensure we’re able to [allow survivors to go forward when they are ready.”

She acknowledged that the administrative closure procedure need to be “used more judiciously in the future” and that new processes are being developed. But Colon also said she wants to retain jurisdiction and not turn the cases back to the NGBs:

“I’m against that. … One of the reasons that we keep cases when we administrative close them is the ability to re-open them. What we would not want to happen is that if we were to hold that case, then the NGB would start to investigate again.

“We’ve had instances where athletes have called us and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, SafeSport, you told me you were going to give this a hold, and then I got a call rom my NGB. We don’t want that to happen.

“We do recognize, however, that NGBs need additional information, however, in order to make better decisions, whether that is around safety planning, membership decisions or employment decisions.”

U.S. Soccer’s Shim said, “We see administrative closures, and have to affirmatively allow what we see as bad actors to re-enter our sport. And that’s an obvious problem.”

Another issue which surfaced was the maintenance of SafeSport’s Central Disciplinary Database, which includes individuals currently on suspension, but any mention of someone who has finished their sanction period is removed. In the parallel world of doping, there are extensive databases of athletes who have concluded their sanctions, but the information about their offense, and any sanctions and time served are available.

Deal explained, “It’s not evergreen. If someone has a suspension for two years, they’re on that CDD for two years and then they are removed. So what we are seeing now are the different NGBs putting that evergreen list on their sites.”

Colon added, “We also would also like to be able keep people on the CDD longer, we would require a legislative change to be able do that. I would also like to see other organizations outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement make use of this more regularly, so that when we are banning people from sport, they are not introducing them into other sports programs across the country.”

A bill in development by Rep. Deborah Ross (D-North Carolina) tentatively titled the “Safer Sports for Athletes Act of 2024″ will apparently be introduced soon and is being written to address multiple issues that were discussed in the hearing.

Chernyshenko says Russians should go to Paris; Pozdnyakov blames U.S.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, who was also the head of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games organizing committee, gave the clearest signal yet that the Russian government will not prohibit its athletes from competing in Paris:

“The conditions created by the International Olympic Committee and international federations are such that practically none of our athletes will be able to go there and will not be able to qualify.

“There are quite a few sports where such an opportunity remains, and then national federations and the Russian Olympic Committee will have to make a decision together. If the athletes have the opportunity, then they probably should go.

“The assessment of the Olympics should be made by the athletes themselves. If the IOC officially confirms that the conditions under which eligible athletes must condemn the [invasion of Ukraine] or abandon their homeland are being lifted, then I think that there will be no legal obstacles for athletes to go to the Olympics.”

Comments from the International Olympic Committee and President Thomas Bach (GER) continue to aggravate the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who places the blame on the United States.

He wrote Thursday on his Telegram page (as reported in English by the Russian news agency TASS):

“Thomas Bach says that the restoration of relations between the IOC and Russia depends completely on the ROC.

“Are there any intelligent people left in the world of sport, who understand that the key to overcoming artificially created barriers in the Olympic family, which has been in the hands of Lausanne up to now, lies across the Atlantic Ocean?

“Today, the IOC, unfortunately lost its autonomy and independence, and this is clearly reflected in the mirror of the world. Therefore, all of their slogans and statements come from the other side of the mirror.”

Pozdnyakov referenced 19th Century British novelist Lewis Carroll to his comments to levitate his already-surreal comments:

“From the very beginning, the IOC openly chose the side of the political conflict, which in itself contradicts its mission, consistently fulfills an external political order to isolate Russian sports, and now it has gone so far as to delegate the right to approve the candidacies of Olympic participants from one country to the national Olympic Committee of another country. But at the same time, according to Lausanne, Russia is engaged in the politicization of sports.

“To sum up the IOC statements made over the past two days, there is a sneaking feeling that the leadership of this organization has been engulfed in a deep looking glass, where cause-and-effect relationships are being reversed, black is seen as white, and some kind of parallel universe has become reality.”

IBA decries IOC’s “circus management and clown behaviour”

The announcement by IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL) at Tuesday’s news conference that “If there is no boxing body supported and driven by the National Federations, we will not be in a position to include boxing in the [2028] Olympic programme” set off a firestorm at the International Boxing Association, the now-former international governing body for the sport.

McConnell explained:

“So it’s now up to the National Federations to drive this change and to work to create a body that we can work in partnership with, because we cannot move forward with this current situation.

“The IOC Session in Mumbai in 2023 also made it clear that the IBA will not be involved in the organisation of the boxing tournament at LA28, should boxing be included in the sports programme.”

The IBA posted a lengthy reply on Thursday, quoting President Umar Kremlev (RUS) and repeating its list of grievances with the IOC in its now-familiar, colorful point-of-view, including:

“The International Boxing Association (IBA) strongly condemns [IOC President] Thomas Bach, [Sports Director] Kit McConnell, [Executive Board member] Nenad Lalovic, and [Ethics and Compliance Director] Paquerette Girard Zappelli, as they continue to place themselves above the entire sports world in pursuit of their own harmful and politicized ambitions. Time for this organization to reflect and to understand their continued mistakes and to draw appropriate conclusions. The IOC leadership attempts again to destroy the sports family and violate all the rules of clear democracy and transparency.”

● “With their statements, the current IOC leadership deliberately creates a split, uncertainty, and instability in the sporting community. These individuals, by their actions, force athletes to become ‘slaves’ of this ridiculous situation whilst the current IOC leadership continue to take money from our athletes, lining their very own pockets.”

“The reality and truth are that there is no alternative to the IBA as a governing body neither financially, nor in terms of organization and experience. With their statements, the ruling elite of the IOC constantly interferes in the affairs of the IBA and other international sports federations, violating the principles of its own Olympic Charter, freedom of speech and imposing its own fictitious rules.”

● “Circus management and clown behaviour from Thomas Bach’s camp is apparent; we continue to see this with those disappointing antics, with the IOC hiding their own personal gains to the detriment of others and our boxing community as a whole. IBA remains transparent and will continue to speak up for its loyal members.”

“The clear goal of the IOC leadership is to destroy the IBA, this is undeniable. This continued attempt only puts them to shame, the facts are clear; the rogue organization has damaged the reputation of our sport, with no financial support from global sponsors (circa-900k annual budget), no experience or subject matter expertise to manage the sport globally. In addition, let’s not forget the grassroots of boxing, who will manage these competitions to bring up our athletes of the future?”

The IBA filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the withdrawal of recognition by the IOC last year as the recognized governing body for Olympic boxing. The new World Boxing groups held its organizing meeting last November and has 27 member federations so far.

Observed: The IBA’s whining and crying about the IOC is nothing new; he called IOC officials “like prostitutes in sports” last year and U.S. and Irish federation officials “hyenas and jackals” for leaving the IBA.

But the IBA correctly perceives McConnell’s comments as a direct threat, because the IBA will not be involved in Olympic boxing going forward. That means that its 195 member federations, most of whom are funded by their national governments, will not be involved in the Olympic Games and are therefore subject to be de-funded by those same governments.

Kremlev is hoping for help from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is unlikely. In any event, the IBA has no recourse against a decision by the IOC that it will not hold boxing in Los Angeles in 2028, and if that happens, the reason for governments to financially support national boxing federations is going to disappear.

McConnell was asked if 2027 was the deadline for a new international federation to emerge for boxing; he said it was “earlier than that.” So this issue will apparently be determined in the next couple of years.

Lyles knows what earns a 4×400 relay berth in Paris

Yet another confirmation of Noah Lyles’ superstar status came in a World Athletics feature on Thursday, promoting his appearance on the “Inside Track” podcast, where he had a lot to say about his goals for 2024 and beyond. Highlights:

“For this year specifically, I want to solidify myself as the world’s fastest man in the 100 m and the 200 m. Breaking as many records as I can.

“I definitely have the American record in the 100 m [9.69] on my mind and even the world record [9.58]. In the 200 m, I have that idea of 19.10 just constantly in my head. I’ve already put together the data to say that I can do it. …

“Of course, I want L.A. [2028 Olympic Games] to be my magnum opus. It’s going to be in the U.S., I feel it’s happening in probably what’s going to be the greatest peak of my career.

“Of course, I want to show the world that when I leave the sport, it will be forever changed on the track, but that it will also be leaving with the greatest showman that track has ever seen. And then I want to create some new ideas. This doesn’t have to be just hardcore sport – this can be entertainment too.”

As for his thoughts of running a leg on the 4×400 m relay, for a possible fourth Olympic gold this summer, he explained that changes to his training is making this possible

“I am lifting a lot more; my body is taking on so much more load. I did the triple [in Budapest] and I was very shocked by how my body held up.

“Every time I go to track meets now it’s like, how many races can I get in? Because I am just constantly trying to push my body to a point where if it comes down to it – if I have the body and I am in the right headspace – I can drop a 44 or even a 43 split [in the 4x400m] at the end of some other great performances.”

At the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow (GBR), Lyles was second in the 60 m in 1 March, then ran a 45.68 third leg for the U.S.’s silver-medal men’s 4×400 m relay, the sixth-fastest leg in the race. But he’s going to have to go much faster to earn a spot in Paris; as an example, the top six finishers at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Tokyo in 2021 went 44.07-44.35-44.74-44.90-44.92-44.94. And that’s not counting add-ins like 400 m hurdles star Rai Benjamin, who anchored the Tokyo Olympic team to victory in 43.40!

He also commented on his exuberant fashion sense:

“I found fashion to be an outlet for creativity, which is what I am all about. I kept going with it.

“On Instagram, I’m looking at all these basketball players and football players and soccer players and they are on GQ all the time. I’m like, I can dress better than these guys! Why are we not on here!

“The subcultures of track are very small – we can make them bigger, and this is just one of those areas that we can increase.”

U.S. survives, Mexico thrives in CONCACAF Nations League semis

Plenty of drama at the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where Jamaica was on the verge of beating the United States for the first time since 2019, but lost again, 3-1, in extra time.

The game started sensationally for Jamaica, with a goal in the first minute by defender Greg Leigh on a header from the left side of the penalty area off a cross from the far endline by attacking midfielder Bobby Decordova-Reid that went all the way over the goal, to where Leigh was running toward the U.S. net.

The U.S. dominated the rest of the half, but could not score, despite 83% possession and nine shots to four for Jamaica. Striker Folarin Balogun sent a header from the center of the box over the net in the 17th and midfielder Malik Tillman’s shot from in front of the net in the 45th was too soft and was blocked and saved.

The second half was more of the same. The U.S. completely dominated possession, but could not score. Sub midfielder Gio Reyna made a promising through-ball for Tillman in the 50th, as he was cutting to the net, but the pass went wide. Jamaica only challenged on counter-attacks, as in the 63rd, when Jamaican forward Renaldo Cephas out-ran the American defenders for a one-in-one shot against U.S. keeper Matt Turner, who saved the shot.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter brought in more offense, with Ricardo Pepi and Haji Wright in the 61st and Brenden Aaronson in the 76th, but nothing penetrated the packed-in Jamaican defense in front of keeper Andre Blake.

Pepi had a chance at 90+1 off a long cross from the right side, sending a right-footed shot at Blake from the middle of the box, but it was saved. The seconds were ticking away at 90+6 when midfield star Christian Pulisic sent the U.S.’s 10th corner to the near side of the Jamaican net, where it was headed on by defender Miles Robinson and stunningly bounced off the head of Jamaican sub forward Cory Burke on a flubbed clearance and past a stunned Burke for the 1-1 tie!

Regulation time ended with the U.S. at 20-5 on shots, Jamaica committing 18 fouls to eight for the U.S. and the Americans holding 82% possession.

On to extra time, with the U.S. still on offense, but this time with quick results, as Reyna sent a perfect lead to Wright, running in the box, who acquired possession and then sent a diagonal, left-footed skipper past Blake for the 2-1 lead in the 96th.

In the second extra period, the U.S. slammed the door in the 109th, as Reyna sent a right-footed pass that found Wright again in the clear. He found the ball, spun around a defender and sent a right-footer past Blake to the far side of the net for a 3-1 lead. No goals for 95 minutes and then three in the next 10!

The U.S. finished with 78% possession and 25 shots, to six for Jamaica. The win sends the Americans – who won the first two CONCACAF Nations League titles in 2021 and 2023, to the final once again, extending a seven-game unbeaten streak over the last five years against Jamaica.

Top-seeded Panama met Mexico in the second semi, and the Mexicans broke through with two goals before halftime, on an Edson Alvarez header in the 40th and Julian Quinones in the 43rd, who scored from the center of the box, but confirmed only after a video review.

Sub midfielder Orbelin Pineda made it 3-0 in the 67th with a shot from outside the box that assured the outcome. Panama enjoyed 59% of possession and had 18 shots to six for Mexico, but only five were on target, all saved by Mexican keeper Memo Ochoa.

And so it will be the U.S. and Mexico in Sunday’s championship final, a re-match of the inaugural final from 2021, won by the U.S. in Denver, 3-2, in extra time.


● Figure Skating ● It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but the home favorites came through with an upset win at the 2024 ISU World Championships at the Bell Centre in Montreal (CAN).

Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek (40) and Maxime Deschamps (32), who finished fourth at the 2023 Worlds in their only appearance together, led the Short Program with a sensational lifetime best of 77.48, more than four points better than their prior 73.05 best. But could they repeat that in the Free Skate?

No problem! As the penultimate skaters, they were brilliant and scored a lifetime best in the Free Skate at 144.08 for a 221.56 total, nearly seven points more than they ever scored before, and won Canada’s first Worlds gold in Pairs since 2016. Said Deschamps:

“At the end of our program I felt nothing but pride. Deanna was sick, our training session was difficult today, but we kept at it and pulled through. She is a warrior. The only three words I had for her at the end of the performance was: We did it! It was great to be able to have a winning performance in front of family and friends at the Bell Centre. I am speechless. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life. It’s an incredible moment I lived tonight with Deanna.”

They had to wait for defending champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) to skate, but they would have had to score a 4.35-point personal record to win. Miura and Kihara were game, and won the Free Skate with a lifetime best of 144.35 (old best, 143.69), but had to settle for their second silver in three years with a total of 217.88.

Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin won their country’s first Pairs medal since 2017 with a strong Free Skate and moved up from fourth to the bronze, with 210.40 points.

The U.S. entries finished 11-12-13, with national champions Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea (180.41), Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe (175.44) and Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez (174.15).

In the men’s Short Program, two-time defending champion Shoma Uno (JPN) was on top, scoring a season’s best of 107.72, ahead of teammate and 2021 and 2022 runner-up Yuma Kagiyama (106.35) and Americans Ilia Malinin (105.97) and Jason Brown (93.87). Each of the top three had two quad jumps in their routines, with many more coming in the Free Skate on Saturday.

Said Uno: “I felt really well while skating and the audience was great and they pushed me to skate and perform even better. Although my combination jump was not the best one I could have done, my first jump received very high marks, which helped me to get a high score overall.”


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● NBC is taking no chances with its “Gold Zone” program for its Peacock steaming service for Paris 2024, announcing Wednesday that Scott Hanson, who hosts “NFL Red Zone” for the NFL Network, will also host a portion of the daily “Gold Zone” show this summer.

SportsMediaWatch.com reported that Hanson will open the daily coverage at 7 a.m. Eastern during the Games, then hand off to Andrew Siciliano – who hosted the “Gold Zone” for Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 – and closing each day (at 5 p.m. Eastern) with “American Ninja Warrior” hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila.

● International Olympic Committee ● The IOC posted a notice Thursday about a continuing disinformation campaign against it, including:

“Fake calls [to the IOC] purporting to be from the African Union Commission appear to have been made by the very same [Russian] group that has already attacked a number of global political leaders and other high-ranking personalities in the same way.

“During the calls, a person pretending to be the Chair of the African Union Commission wanted to have arguments in particular from the IOC against the politicisation of sport by the Russian government, in order to prepare a statement against such politicisation.”

The African Union Commission does exist; it is the administrative arm of the African Union and is headquartered in Ethiopia.

● World Anti-Doping Agency ● On Monday, WADA designated the Cambodian Anti-Doping Agency (CADA) as non-compliant, “related to the implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) in its legal system.”

This means that the Cambodian flag will not be flown or shown at the Olympic or Paralympic Games until reinstated.

WADA restated its guidance note on recreational drugs – cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis – which are known as “substances of abuse” in the anti-doping parlance, reiterating:

“As per Code Article, where the Anti-Doping Rule Violation involves a Substance of Abuse and ‘the Athlete can establish that any ingestion or Use occurred Out-of-Competition and was unrelated to sport performance, then the period of Ineligibility shall be three (3) months. In addition, the period of Ineligibility calculated may be reduced to one (1) month if the Athlete or other Person satisfactorily completes a Substance of Abuse treatment program approved by the Anti-Doping Organization with Results Management responsibility.’”

An in-competition positive for these drugs will lead to much longer suspensions

● France ● Abuse in sport goes far beyond the U.S., as French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told a Paris news conference that more than 300 French coaches, teachers and sports officials were accused of sexual abuse, or tried to cover it up, in 2023.

She said that of the victims, 81% were female and the accused or actual perpetrators were 90% men. The Associated Press reported:

“Since 2020, complaints have been filed against 1,284 coaches, teachers and sports officials. Of those, 186 faced criminal proceedings and 624 have been sanctioned with temporary or permanent bans.”

During 2023, complaints were made against 377 individuals; of these, 293 were coaches and 15 were sports officials. Of these, 176 have been banned – either temporarily or permanently – and 36 have or are facing criminal prosecution..

● Cycling ● The UCI Women World Tour Classic Brugge-DePanne in Belgium was – just as the men’s race on Wednesday – a mad dash for the finish, and just as in the men’s race, a second straight win for a star sprinter.

Belgian Jasper Philipsen won both Milan-Sanremo and Brugge-DePanne, and in the women’s 155 km ride, it was Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, who won last Sunday’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda title, who got to the line first.

The flat route set up the race for a finish dash and Balsamo crossed in 3:49:56, with the top 77 all given the same time. She won over Charlotte Kool (NED), Daria Pikulik (POL) and Italy’s Chiara Consonni, with American Chloe Dygert in sixth.

It’s the second Brugge-DePanne win for Balsamo, 26, who also won in 2022.

● Skeleton ● The opening day of the final IBSF World Cup, in Lake Placid (USA), saw emerging Chinese star Zheng Yin take his third straight World Cup gold, but Britain’s Matt Weston won the seasonal title.

Yin won the first heat and placed second in heat two, finishing at 1:46.97, to 1:47.01 for Britain’s Marcus Wyatt and 1:47.34 for Amedeo Bagnis (ITA). American Austin Florian was 10th, but was the winner of the Pan American Championships being held concurrently.

Weston, the 2023 World Champion, finished with 1,523 points to leapfrog 2022 Olympic champ Christopher Grotheer (GER: 1,494), with Yin third (1,453). The competitions continue through Sunday.

● Swimming ● USA Swimming is going all-out for a big turnout on the first night of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis on 15 June, announcing the Swim Trials Pool Party Ticket Challenge:

“Each session ticket (June 15-23) purchased by an employee scores a point for their company. Tickets purchased for June 15 receive double points as part of the effort to set the record for the largest swim meet ever on opening night. The company with the most points, relative to the size of its employee count, will win the pool party for 50 of their employees. Floats, noodles, and beach balls will be provided!”

There are divisions for companies with 25-100 employees and for those with more than 100. There will even be a leaderboard posted by USA Swimming, through 14 June. The event will be held inside the Lucas Oil Stadium, normally the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

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