The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Could Lyles win four Paris golds? Tokyo 2020 bid-rigging controller sentenced; 7,085 abusive social comments at Women’s World Cup

Noah Lyles winning the men's 200 m at the 2022 World Championships (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics)

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1. Lyles looking for fourth gold in 4×400 in Paris?
2. Pozdnyakov calls IOC’s Paris conditions “illegitimate”
3. Tokyo 2020 “inside man” for bid-rigging gets suspended sentence
4. Analysis: 4.5% of Women’s World Cup social comments flagged
5. Rio 2016 weightlifting gold winner banned for 8 years

U.S. sprint star Noah Lyles was asked about a possible try at a fourth gold at the Paris 2024 Games in the 4×400 m relay and replied he’s ”not going to say no to that.” But it’s a longshot.

● The head of the Russian Olympic Committee called the International Olympic Committee’s restrictions on Russian participation in Paris in 2024 “unacceptable” and “illegitimate.”

● The internal coordination of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s bid-rigging scandal for test events and then venue management during the Games received, like everyone else in the case, a suspended sentence.

● The report of the FIFA Social Media Protection Service for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup noted that about 230,000 comments out of 5.1 million monitored were flagged for review, with 7,085 comments identified as abusive. The biggest target? The U.S. women’s team.

● Just as the International Testing Agency is beginning its re-analysis of the Rio 2016 doping samples, a 2022 doping suspension that resulted in the disqualification of the Rio 2016 weightlifting gold medalist from Kazakhstan at 77 kg for a prohibited method – urine substitution – was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

World Championship: Handball (France and Norway advance to semis) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (surfing confirmed for Tahiti) = On Screen (reasonable audiences for swimming and figure skating on U.S. TV) = Archery (new streaming service announced for 2024, right behind a new betting deal) = Athletics (World Athletics offering online meet-up with Indian heartthrob Chopra) = Basketball (U.S. to play two pre-Olympic exhibitions) = Freestyle Skiing (Canada’s Schmidts make Ski Cross history in Arosa) = Swimming (Whiffen and Ponti wins three individual golds each at Euro Short Course) = Tennis (Simon to move to Chair as new CEO coming to WTA) = Wrestling (World champ Elor among five UWW women of the year nominees) ●

Lyles looking for fourth gold in 4×400 in Paris?

World Athletics men’s track Athlete of the Year Noah Lyles (USA) – winning of three World Championships golds in the 100, 200 and 4×100 m in 2023 – thinks there could be one more in Paris next summer!

In an interview with the French all-sports newspaper L’Equipe, he said:

“I’ve never had somebody tell me something that has thrown my out-of-the-box thinking to inside-the-box, but that was like: okay, I’m not going to say no to that.

“Because after what I did at Budapest and seeing what my body can handle, if I train for it, okay, let’s take a shot. It’s the last race, there’s nothing to lose. If I’m in shape for it and I’ve trained for it all year, sure let’s take a crack at it.

“If they allow me, if they need me and they are willing – let’s go, let’s take it.”

Lyles has very little recent experience with a full lap of the track. His lifetime best is 47.04 from his high school days in 2016, and he ran an anchor leg this season on a 4×400 m at the Florida Relays for his AdiPure team that finished in 3:02.99; his split was 47.60.

There is also the question of how Lyles would be asked to be on the Olympic 4×400 m, since those entrants usually come from the final of the men’s 400 m. But U.S. coaches are not shy about borrowing stars from the 400 m hurdles, as Rai Benjamin anchored this year’s World Championships gold medalists in 44.01!

Pozdnyakov calls IOC’s Paris conditions “illegitimate”

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, four-time Olympic fencing gold medalist Stanislav Pozdnyakov, maintained his continuing criticism of the International Olympic Committee’s sanctions against Russian athletes, including last Friday’s announcement of the conditions under which certain “neutral” Russian athletes can participate. He said Tuesday:

“I stated back in late March, when the IOC voiced its initial recommendations for international sports federations, that they were unacceptable. They are absolutely illegitimate and lack any legal foundation.

“As of today, many heads of sports federations have tried to adjust the requirements, finding limited success here. However, as we can see the IOC stands firm regarding its conditions, which the overwhelming majority of Russian athletes view as unacceptable in order to participate in the [2024 Olympic] Games, while only a few ‘neutralized’ athletes will be able to compete.

“The Russian Olympic Committee is temporarily suspended and that is why we will not be taking part in this event. However, we intend to discuss this issue at the [15 December ROC] meeting.”

Asked about the decision of any Russian athlete who would agree to compete in Paris under the IOC’s regulations, he added:

Each person chooses his own path in this life. In some cases, this path does not coincide with the expectations of the majority of the public. Each person will be responsible for his choice for the rest of his life.”

Tokyo 2020 “inside man” for bid-rigging gets suspended sentence

Yasuo Mori, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s Deputy Executive Director of the Games Operations Bureau, received a suspended sentence for being a central figure in the bid-rigging scandal.

Mori, 56, admitted to the scheme in July and received a sentence of two years in prison, suspended for four years. The ruling, by Tokyo District Court Presiding Judge Kenji Yasunaga, was clear that Mori “took the lead in arranging bid-rigging among operators, leveraging his influence as an executive,” working with six leading advertising and event production firms that included marketing giant Dentsu and ad firms Hakuhodo and Tokyu Agency. Six other individuals were prosecuted; everyone involved in the case confessed their roles and have received suspended sentences.

Yasunaga also noted that “It cannot be denied that his sense of responsibility to lead the Olympics to success” was a driver of his conduct, to arrange the selection of firms that were considered to be reliable for the delivery of test events for the Games and then for contracts for venue management during the Games, which were delayed from 2020 to 2021.

The contracts combined were worth some ¥43.7 billion, or about $300.04 million U.S. today; the bid-rigging effort was arranged mostly between February and July 2018.

The bid-rigging case is separate from the sponsorship sales scandals, in which Tokyo 2020 Executive Committee member Haruyuki Takahashi – a former senior director at Dentsu – arranged for companies to receive Tokyo 2020 designations and licenses in return for bribes. Takahashi has admitted receiving funds, but maintains that these were legitimate consulting fees. His trial is expected to begin later this week.

The dual scandals seriously impacted the post-Games public view of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and played a significant role in the implosion of the Sapporo bid for the 2030 Winter Games, now expected to go to France.

Analysis: 4.5% of Women’s World Cup social comments flagged

The FIFA Social Media Protection Service report on the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand showed issues with about 4.5% of more than 5.1 million social-media posts monitored during the tournament.

The project covered posts on X (ex-Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube for the month of the tournament, monitoring references to 697 players and coaches with 1,805 active accounts and others for a total of 2,111 accounts in all, with 37% on Instagram, 24% on Facebook and 22% on X. The study noted:

“FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 saw discriminatory, abusive or threatening content targeted at over 150 players, but two teams stood out as key targets – the USA and Argentina.

“The profile of the USA squad (coming into the tournament as winners of the previous two tournaments), made them a target for online abuse. This was heightened by the perception of players not singing the National Anthem being called out as unpatriotic and anti-American.”

In fact, abusive comments about the U.S. team – concentrated on 2-3 players especially – totaled nearly 4,000 in all, more than twice as many as Argentina (about 1,600). Some 67% of the identified threatening accounts came from North and Central America, and 21% from Europe.

There were 102,511 posts that were reviewed and another 116,820 comments were hidden on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Messages flagged as abusive were classified as generally abusive (23.3%), homophobic (20.4%), sexual (15.0%), sexist (13.7%), racist (9.9%) and 14 other, smaller categories. More than 150 players were targeted.

There were 7,085 posts which were verified as abusive and reported to the platforms, dominated by X (87.3%), with Instagram (6.1%) and TikTok (4.5%) following. From these, the identity of 628 account owners was verified and another 2,007 had a high probability of identification, and evidence was sent to FIFA-member associations and to law enforcement.

The highest level of abuse came on 6 August, when the U.S. was eliminated in its playoff match with Sweden.

In comparison with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar:

“Whilst FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was a bigger event in terms of viewership and overall volume of messages mentioning player handles, a relative comparison demonstrates that players at FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 were subject to a higher percentage of discriminatory, abusive or threatening content.

“Although a lower raw number, the smaller total engagement around FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 means that comparatively, players were 28.5% more likely to receive verified abuse or threat:

“● 0.14% of posts / comments captured for analysis during FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 by the SMPS monitoring system were confirmed to be abusive (7k out of 5.1m).

“● 0.10% of posts / comments captured for analysis during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 by the SMPS monitoring system were confirmed to be abusive (19k out of 20m).”

On Tuesday, the German football federation (DFB) said it is coordinating with government prosecutors to identify online abusers and refer them for investigation and possible criminal charges.

This is a reaction to racist comments aimed as Germany’s black players on the winning FIFA men’s U-17 World team in early December. The DFB stated that 14 comments involved “incitement to hatred” and four individuals are being considered for prosecution.

Rio 2016 weightlifting gold winner banned for 8 years

The International Testing Agency has begun its re-analysis of samples from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but noted Tuesday the disqualification of the men’s 77 kg gold medalist in weightlifting.

Kazakhstan’s Nijat Rahimov’s urine substitution violations prior to the Rio Games in 2016 was discovered during the investigation of International Weightlifting Federation doping cover-up activities. He won the Rio gold with a combined total of 379 kg, but was disqualified in March 2022 and the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s Anti-Doping Division imposed an eight-year penalty against him.

Now the Appeals Division of the Court of Arbitration has confirmed the holding and the eight-year sanction, as this was Rahimov’s second doping offense. His results from 2016-21 were nullified and China’s Xiaojun Lu should be recognized as the gold-medal winner.

The Russian news agency TASS reported that the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a decision of the Russian Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee and imposed a four-year ban on lifter Rodion Bochkov, the 2019 European Championships bronze medalist at 109 kg.

Now 30, Bochkov is banned for four years from 28 November 2023, less the year he was provisionally suspended from May 2020 to May 2021.

Interestingly, the CAS decision reversed a holding of the Russian Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, which said Bochkov had not committed a violation. This is the same Russian appeals board which imposed only a one-day sanction on Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva after her doping positive on 25 December 2021. That case is now being decided by a CAS panel after an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency, International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency itself.


● Handball ● France and Norway advanced to the semifinals of the 26th IHF Women’s World Championship in Denmark and Norway with decisive victories on Tuesday.

The French (6-0), the 2017 World Champions and runners-up in 2021, took an 18-16 halftime lead over the Czech Republic (3-3), but expanded their edge in the second half and won by 33-22. Estelle Nze Minko led the French with five goals, while Czech star Marketa Jerabkova took the tournament lead with six in a losing cause (now 52 total).

France will play the winner of Wednesday’s semi between Sweden (5-0) and Germany (4-1).

In the lower bracket, defending champion Norway (5-1) finally pulled away from previously unbeaten Netherlands (5-1) to win, 30-23, before the home crowd in Trondheim. Stine Skogrand was the hero for the home team, scoring nine goals, while Dione Housheer and Antje Malestein had four each to lead the Dutch.

The final quarterfinal will feature host Denmark (4-1) taking on Montenegro (3-2) in Herning. The semis and finals will be played in Herning on the 15th and 17th.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● French Polynesia President Moetai Brotherson confirmed that Olympic surfing next summer will be held in Tahiti. He explained that after a meeting held Sunday with environmental groups, “The solution we managed to get adopted tonight will allow the Games to be held here.”

A new judging and scoring tower will be installed, but only to essentially replace the existing – and worn – wooden tower, using carefully-engineered barges that will minimize any damage to beach coral.

● On Screen ● Competing against the NFL on television is always daunting, but both swimming and figure skating shows on NBC did reasonably well with American viewers last weekend.

On Saturday (9th), a highlights package from the USA Swimming U.S. Open drew an average audience of 690,000 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.

On Sunday, the figure skating audience returned as always for highlights of the ISU Grand Prix Final from Beijing (CHN) at 4:00 p.m., with 648,000 viewers on NBC, just about the same as for all of the other skating broadcasts this season.

The second football friendly between the U.S. women and China did not draw as much interest on Tuesday (5th), with 172,000 viewers on TruTV at 8 p.m. Eastern.

● Archery ● First came the 4 December announcement of an agreement with FeedConstruct for the collection and marketing of betting data on archery.

Then on Thursday, World Archery released details of an expanded online streaming program on “archery+” that will centralize coverage of all of World Archery’s major tournaments in one place. This is a subscription service, priced at €49.99 annually, with a discounted rate of €29.99 for the 2024 outdoor season.

Yes, the two concepts are eventually designed to work together, with archery moving swiftly towards a new level of fan engagement that will involve real-time betting. The development of these programs will be watched carefully by other federations.

● Athletics ● World Athletics has promised to do more to promote its stars. On Tuesday, it unveiled a one-week promotion of India’s Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic and World Champion in the men’s javelin.

A free sign-up form will enter respondents into a random drawing, from which 15 will be selected for “an exclusive online video meet and greet and virtual autograph session with Neeraj Chopra taking place on 20 December 2023.” Entries will be received until 6 p.m. (Central European Time) on 18 December 2023.

Why Chopra? Because he’s the most “connected” track & field athlete in the world, with 7,935,289 Instagram followers as of Tuesday.

Of course, signing up also brings you into the World Athletics database, as noted on the sign-up page: “By submitting your details, you are agreeing that World Athletics will send you information and special offers relating to athletics and athletics events.”

● Basketball ● The U.S. men’s Olympic Team will warm up with games against South Sudan on 20 July and FIBA World Cup Champion Germany on 22 July next year, with both games to be held at the O2 Arena in London.

● Freestyle Skiing ● History at the FIS World Cup Ski Cross races in Arosa (SUI), as brother-and-sister Jared and Hannah Schmidt of Canada both won on Tuesday!

Hannah won the women’s final with ease as the other three competitors got tangled up in an early crash. France’s Marielle Berger Sabbatel got back into form best to grab second, ahead of Canada’s 2014 Olympic gold winner Marielle Thompson.

It’s Hannah’s first career World Cup gold and only her second career World Cup medal at age 29. Berger Sabbatel is the only racer with medals in each of the first three races of the season (0-2-1).

Jared, 26, won his second World Cup race in a row – also last week at Val Thorens (FRA) – and his fourth career World Cup medal by beating countryman Reece Howden – the 2022-23 seasonal champ – to the line. Sweden’s Erik Mobaerg, the 2023 Worlds bronze medalist, got the bronze.

● Swimming ● The European Short Course Championships (25 m) finished Sunday in Otopeni (ROU), with the highlight the men’s 800 m Freestyle world record by Ireland’s Daniel Whiffen.

Whiffen won three events – the men’s 400-800-1,500m Frees – but he wasn’t the only big winner.

Swiss Noe Ponti, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 m Butterfly, won the 50-100-200 m Fly triple, the only other swimmer to take three individual golds. France’s Mewen Tomac won the 50-100 m Backstroke double and ex-Russian Anastasiia Kirpichnikova – now competing for France – won the women’s 800-1,500 m Frees, as she did for Russia in 2021.

Dutch star Kira Toussaint won the 50 and 100 m Backstroke titles and Britain’s Abbie Wood won both the 200 and 400 m Medleys.

Seven athletes won three total golds, including relays. In addition to Whiffen and Ponti, Ben Proud (GBR: 50 m Free + 2 relays), Niccolo Martinenghi (ITA: 50 m Breaststroke + 2 relays), Lorenzo Mora (ITA: 200 m Backstroke + 2 relays), Michelle Coleman (SWE: 50 m Free + 2 relays) and Louise Hansson (SWE: 100 m fly + 2 relays) all won three events.

Four athletes won five total medals: Hansson (3-1-1), Mora (3-0-2), Freya Anderson (GBR: 2-0-3) and France’s Beryl Gastaldello (1-3-1)

Britain (9-8-6) and France (7-10-6) each won 23 medals to top the table, with Italy (22: 7-12-3) next. The Netherlands (11: 6-0-5) was the only other country to win 10 or more.

● Tennis ● Steve Simon, the face of the Women’s Tennis Association during the “where is Peng Shuai” incident with China, will become Executive Chairman and a new chief executive will be hired to lead the organization’s day-to-day operations.

President Micky Lawler, who has served since 2015, will leave at the end of the year.

The announcement underscored the importance of the new WTA Ventures arm, created in conjunction with equity investor CVC Capital Partners as the commercial division of the women’s tour.

Simon, who became Chair and CEO in 2015, told The Associated Press:

“My focus will go to, obviously, governance. Managing the respective boards and councils. Working directly with the CEOs of the daily business of the tour. I’ll be able to spend more time on the geopolitical issues that remain very prevalent to the sport and do affect the business.

“I will spend more time working on the strategic direction of the organization and the challenges that face the organization.”

He noted the continuing growth of the WTA business profile:

“I believe we were a $64 million business in ’16, and we’ll be a $128 million business this year. And we’re due to double that by 2027 with our current business plan projections.”

● Wrestling ● United World Wrestling announced the five nominees for women’s Wrestler of the Year:

● Aisuluu Tynybekova (KGZ) ~ World 62 kg Champion
● Yui Susaki (JPN) ~ World 50 kg Champion
● Akari Fujinami (JPN) ~ World 53 kg World Champion, Asian Games champ
● Amit Elor (USA) ~ World 72 kg Champion in senior, U20 and U23
● Buse Tosun (TUR) ~ World 68 kg Champion

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