The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Justice Dept. to pay $138.7M to Nassar victims; another high-pay track meet (for women); USADA screams for WADA overhaul!

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1. Justice Dept. agrees on $138.7M for bungled Nassar inquiries
2. IOC Future Host Commission inspecting French Alps 2030 bid
3. Another new track meet: the all-women 776 Invitational
4. Canada’s Brown asks for all Olympic finalists to get money
5. USADA triples down, asks for WADA overhaul

The U.S. Justice Department announced a $138.7 million settlement with 139 claimants regarding the botched inquiries by two field offices of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the Larry Nassar abuse matter.

● The International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission for the Winter Games is in France, inspecting venues for the French Alps bid for the 2030 Winter Games, which is expected to be confirmed at the IOC Session this summer in Paris.

● During a sports conference in New York, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced that his venture-capital firm would sponsor an all-women’s “776 Invitational” track & field meet in September that will pay $60,000-25,000-10,000 for the top three places. Great to have more high-paying meets, but this is not the answer.

● Canadian sprint star Aaron Brown wants World Athletics not just to pay the Olympic winners in Paris, but all of the finalists, as is done at the World Athletics Championships. He says the federation need to change “the strategy of how the sport is marketed and presented to its audience.”

● The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a stinging post, asking for a special prosecutor to look into the 23 Chinese swimming positives in early 2021 that were declared excused by the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency, and for an overhaul of the World Anti-Doping Agency itself.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: lagging interest in ultra-lux Olympic-period rentals; another strike threat against the Torch Relay) = NCAA (no restrictions on transfers between schools) = On Screen (modest interest in wrestling trials on USA) = Athletics (2: Ciattei and McArthur win USATF Road Mile titles; record finishers and charity fundraising at London Marathon) = Figure Skating (U.S. Nations in Wichita in 2025) = Wrestling (UWW disciplines officials who worked error-filled Chamizo-Bayramov in Euro qualifiers) ●

Justice Dept. agrees on $138.7M for bungled Nassar inquiries

“The Justice Department announced today that it has settled 139 administrative claims arising from allegations of sexual abuse committed by former physician and USA Gymnastics official Lawrence Gerard Nassar. …

“The settlement agreements, which have been approved by the Department, resolve 139 claims for a total of $138.7 million to be distributed to claimants.”

That’s from a Tuesday news release from the U.S. Justice Department, closing out a sad chapter at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, in which two field offices knew about Nassar’s abuses, but failed to act properly.

The announcement also included:

“Over the course of nearly two decades and ending in 2016 when he was arrested by the State of Michigan, Nassar sexually abused hundreds of victims under the guise of performing medical treatments.

“These settlements will resolve administrative claims against the United States alleging that the FBI failed to conduct an adequate investigation of Nassar’s conduct. In July 2021, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report critical of certain aspects of the FBI’s response to, and investigation of, allegations against Nassar.”

That’s an understatement. In his 2021 appearance before the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in his report:

“Larry Nassar’s abuses very well could and should have been stopped sooner, if appropriate action had been taken by the FBI in response to the courageous actions of these athletes. Not only did that not occur, but after the FBI agents’ inadequate and incompetent response came to light, FBI records were created that falsely summarized the testimony of an athlete who had spent hours detailing the abuses she endured, and inaccurately described the FBI’s handling of the matter. Further, when called to account for their actions, two of the agents lied to our OIG investigators.”

Horowitz noted that the Indianapolis Field Office learned of the Nassar issue in July 2015 and the Los Angeles Field Office was informed in May 2016. But:

● “The OIG found that, despite the extraordinarily serious nature of the allegations and the possibility that Nassar’s conduct could be continuing, senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies. The Indianapolis Field Office did not undertake any investigative activity until September 2—5 weeks after the meeting with USA Gymnastics—when they telephonically interviewed one of the three athletes. Further, FBI Indianapolis never interviewed the other two gymnasts who they were told were available to meet with FBI investigators.”

● “The OIG also found that, while the FBI Los Angeles Field Office appreciated the utmost seriousness of the Nassar allegations and took numerous investigative steps upon learning of them in May 2016, the office also did not expeditiously notify local law enforcement or the FBI Lansing Resident Agency of the information that it had learned or take other action to mitigate the ongoing danger that Nassar posed. Indeed, precisely because of its investigative activity, the Los Angeles Field Office was aware from interviewing multiple witnesses that Nassar’s abuse was potentially widespread and that there were specific allegations of sexual assault against him for his actions while at the Karolyi Training Camp (also known as the Karolyi Ranch) in Huntsville, Texas. Yet, the Los Angeles Field Office did not contact the Sheriff’s Office in Walker County, Texas, to provide it with the information that it had developed until after the MSUPD had taken action against Nassar in September 2016. Nor did it have any contact with the FBI Lansing Resident Agency until after the Lansing Resident Agency first learned about the Nassar allegations from the MSUPD and public news reporting. Given the continuing threat posed by Nassar, the uncertainty over whether the Los Angeles Field Office had venue over the allegations, and the doubt that there was even federal jurisdiction to charge the sexual tourism crime that the Los Angeles Field Office was seeking to pursue, we found that prudence and sound judgment dictated that the Los Angeles Field Office should have notified local authorities upon developing the serious evidence of sexual assault against Nassar that its investigative actions were uncovering.”

The Justice Department agreement is separate and apart from the $339.5 million pool of insurance funds for the survivors approved in 2021, in actions principally against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

IOC Future Host Commission inspecting French Alps 2030 bid

The International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission for the Winter Games is in the French Alps this week, looking into the proposal to stage the 2030 Olympic Winter Games there, in advance of an expected formal award at the IOC Session in Paris in July.

The Future Host Commission, led by Karl Stoss (AUT) began its tour program on Monday in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region (AURA) and saw the Le Grand-Bornard site for cross-country skiing and biathlon and will move on to the Provence Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) venues later, ending in Nice on Thursday and Friday.

The French Alps concept concentrates on using existing facilities mostly already in use for World Cup events in four “zones”:

Haute-Savoie: Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing

Savoire: Alpine Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, Bobsled, Luge, Skeleton

Briancon: Freestyle Skiing, Snowboard

Nice: Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Short Track

At the opening session, Commission Chair Stoss said that the selection of the French Alps should not be considered as a foregone conclusion:

“The finish line has not yet been crossed.

“We have to ask questions to the presidents, to the Olympic committee, to the community, this is a very important step. We still have a little work to do with the study of the sites, the Olympic villages, the transport networks and interviews with the mayors and the athletes concerned.”

Significant issues remain with the plan for speed skating, which could be held in a temporary facility as in Milan for 2026 – a convention center – or at an existing facility in The Netherlands or Italy.

The current tour is not the end of the discussions, as presentations will be made by French Alps and Salt Lake City to the winter-sport International Federations and IOC members in May or early June, followed by the Future Host Commission’s final report on both bids and recommendations for election at the IOC Session in Paris.

Another new track meet: the all-women 776 Invitational

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced another women’s sport promotion at the Business of Women’s Sports Conference in New York on Tuesday, during a conversation with Tokyo Olympic women’s 200 m bronze medalist Gabby Thomas, the 776 Invitational. reported that the event, which will feature only women’s events and take place in September, will be sponsored by Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture-capital organization and award prize money of $60,000-$25,000-$10,000 for the top three places.

The venue, timing and events were not disclosed.

This is the latest in a series of track & field ventures which have popped up over the last few months. Atlanta Olympic icon Michael Johnson is teaming with Winners Alliance, an arm of the Professional Tennis Players Association, to create a series of meets in 2025; Johnson has pointed to the “majors” concept in golf and tennis as possible ways to promote the sport across an entire year.

Software entrepreneur and former Cornell distance runner Barry Kahn has proposed a multi-day, head-to-head show featuring 10 men and 10 women that would concentrate on a single event – the 100 meters to start – and create a tournament-style progression to a big-money final. A $1 million prize purse is envisioned, with the first “Duæl 100″ in September in Jamaica.

Another project which has been teased on social media, but not formally announced, is another one-on-one concept that would include track events, but is not necessarily limited to one sport.

Observed: The increase in interest in track & field is great and welcome, but none of these ideas solve the problem. Triple World Champion Noah Lyles identified this in a 2023 interview after his brilliant Budapest triple:

● “Everybody only gets paid for the big moments, and that’s really what they see as what our sport is doing. But the problem is because we only get paid for those big moments, we only show up for those big moments.”

● “If you look at basketball, football, tennis, soccer, golf, they have their regular season and of course, they can all go to the Olympics, but that’s an afterthought because their sport supplies them with the ability to stay here, play, compete and still keep a normal job, a steady income.”

Lyles was speaking about the Olympic Games and the World Championships; while World Athletics will break ground with $50,000 winner’s prizes for Paris 2024, the World Athletics Championships pays prizes of $70,000-35,000-22,000-16,000-11,000-7,000-6,000-5,000 for the top eight places.

Johnson has talked about the need for a league-style program, with teams and rivalries. There are plenty of good ideas on this, and it is doable from an athlete’s perspective. At last week’s USOPC Media Summit in New York, Tokyo men’s 200 m silver winner Kenny Bednarek said that in a league format, he could run every week if he had to, but certainly every other week, and would welcome a U.S. “league” held in the spring, ending before the U.S. national championships and leaving the summer open for championship events and the Diamond League.

Continuity is the issue and one-off meets are fun, but do not create a sustainable “employment” situation for track athletes, something which has been talked about since the 1980s, but has never happened. Yet. Maybe one of these events will energize their backers enough to create a league that can grow over time, as Major League Soccer and the Women’s NBA have done.

That’s the answer.

Canada’s Brown asks for all Olympic finalists to get money

Amid the catcalls from other federations over the decision of World Athletics to pay the Paris Olympic gold medalists $50,000 and extend that to all medal winners at Los Angeles 2028 comes Canadian sprint star Aaron Brown, the two-time Olympic relay medalist, who wants all Olympic finalists to be paid. He told the CBC:

“I’d like to see all finalists in the Olympics make money to make it adjacent to the world championships. I’d like to see more compensation for the athletes who perform well.”

Now 31, he was appreciative that his federation was channeling more money to its athletes:

“It signals [World Athletics] is putting an effort toward 2028 to finally revitalize the support structure for the athletes. I wasn’t sure it would [happen] while I was still active as an athlete.”

But he was also critical of the situation that track & field athletes find themselves in, not only as regards the Olympic Games, but during the entire season:

“I watch other sports [that] operate more professionally increase the revenue for their athletes year over year because the overall business of the sport is growing.

“World Athletics needs to do more to drastically increase this by changing the strategy of how the sport is marketed and presented to its audience.”

He also suggested the heretical idea – to some – of having appearance fees be announced so that athletes could understand who is actually getting what:

“Perhaps putting more into the prize money pot as opposed to the appearances would make athletes want to compete more often.

“More transparency would allow us to know where [money] is being spent, what athletes are willing to show up and compete and establish a true market akin to other sports.”

USADA triples down, asks for WADA overhaul

On Tuesday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a “Call for Independent Prosecutor and Overhaul of WADA” in a lengthy unsigned, defiant post, specifically focused on the revelations concerning the 23 doping positives for Chinese swimmers in early 2021:

“Unfortunately, none of the outstanding questions about the failure of the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency or the World Anti-Doping Agency to uniformly enforce the anti-doping rules were satisfactorily answered for clean athletes and the public in WADA’s press conference yesterday.

“The selective and self-serving application of the rules we heard about yesterday destroys public trust in the authenticity and value of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement. Learning that different rules can be applied to different countries sours the commitment of those who are vital to its ongoing viability, including the world’s best athletes, fans, sponsors, and the next generation of athletes.”

Further, the post continued to focus on these test results, which were – according to the ARD documentary “The China Files” which aired on Sunday – were investigated and reported “under the supervision of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security” instead of the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency. The USADA post continued:

“The statute of limitations has not run out in these cases and the pathway for application of the rules and due process may still exist. The effort to achieve whatever justice possible at this time must happen before the 2024 Paris Games, as it is unfair for all athletes competing in these Games to possibly compete against those who tested positive and whose results were kept secret until now.

“WADA’s willingness to blindfold and handcuff itself as we learned yesterday, and to maintain that it would do the same thing all over again, is yet another stab in the back to clean athletes. How can a global regulator possibly be satisfied when it allows 23 positive tests to be swept under the carpet, and no athlete or organization is held accountable?”

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and especially its chief executive, Travis Tygart, have been critics of WADA for a long time. But the USADA post went into considerable  additional detail on its problems with the WADA response to the presence of the prohibited drug Trimetazidine (TMZ), including:

“WADA did not do any factual investigation into the circumstances of the hotel.”

● “China did not determine the source of the TMZ, and WADA apparently did not raise the obvious questions: How did a controlled drug, TMZ, arrive in the kitchen? Did any kitchen staff have a prescription or use TMZ? Did an employee crush TMZ pills while in the kitchen? Was CCTV reviewed to determine who had access to the kitchen? Certainly, the Chinese Security Service could have interviewed the hotel staff to attempt to learn who might have been using TMZ.”

● “WADA also appears unconcerned by the fact that TMZ was discovered at a hotel in China by the Chinese State Security over three and a half months after the athletes who tested positive were in the hotel. Does WADA believe that the hotel was not cleaned despite these three months spanning the height of the Covid epidemic when restaurants and public places were almost certainly required to perform extensive daily and nightly cleaning?”

The post raised 28 specific issues with the handling of this case, and noted that “WADA’s own rules require that a violation be found in contamination cases, that in-competition results be disqualified, that a provisional suspension be imposed at the outset, and that the violation be publicly announced.”

What happens now? There is no doubt that Tygart will continue to agitate on this issue, something for which he has a gift. Of special interest, however, will be the response of the International Testing Agency, which has the lead for the testing before and during Paris 2024, and the ITA provided at least one tip to WADA about doping in Chinese swimming.

So far, the ITA has issued no public comment about this situation. The question is whether it is already in motion about this case, and the swimmers involved. Coincidentally, the Chinese national swimming championships are ongoing and continue through Saturday, with – so far – one world-leading performance, in the women’s 100 m Breaststroke, by Qianting Tang.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● “The supply is there, but we don’t have as much demand as we thought. Unfortunately, right now it’s not up to par with what I was hoping for.”

That’s from Omar Meniri (FRA), in charge of Paris rentals at the Engel and Völkers firm, explaining that demand has been soft for super-lux rentals of apartments for the Olympic period. Pricing at two or three times the going rate has disinterested prospective customers.

But it’s also true that for many wealthy Parisians who are usually on vacation in August when the Games will take place, if they don’t rent their place, they won’t care.

Another strike threat, this time from a French police union, which said it might disrupt the Olympic Torch Relay if the Olympic-period bonuses – up to €1,900 – are not confirmed. A first protest could come on Thursday, with the Olympic Torch coming to Marseille on 8 May.

● NCAA ● The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved new rules on Monday regarding transfers:

Division I student-athletes who meet certain academic eligibility requirements will be immediately eligible at their next school, regardless of whether they transferred previously.

“Specifically, to be immediately eligible after a transfer, undergraduate student-athletes must have left their previous school while academically eligible and in good standing (not subject to disciplinary suspension or dismissal) and meet progress-toward-degree requirements at their new school before competing.

“For graduate transfer student-athletes to be eligible, they must earn a degree from their previous school, leave while academically eligible and be enrolled as a full-time postgraduate student while satisfying minimum academic standards.”

In other words, everyone is a free agent all the time. More flexibility was also added to the rules for name-image-likeness:

“Schools can identify NIL opportunities and facilitate deals between student-athletes and third parties. Student-athletes are not obligated to accept assistance from the school and must maintain authority over the terms in their NIL agreements. Beginning Aug. 1, member schools will be permitted to increase NIL-related support only for student-athletes who disclose their NIL arrangements.”

● On Screen ● Modest interest in the U.S. Olympic Trials in wrestling, with 142,000 watching on USA Network on Friday and 162,000 on Saturday.

The NCAA women’s gymnastics final did very well on ABC on Sunday, drawing an impressive average of 856,000 viewers, at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

● Athletics ● Favored Vincent Ciattei won his second Grand Blue Mile in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday that was also the USATF National Road Mile Championship for 2024. Ciattei, who won this race in 2022 and was fourth last year, charged through the tape in 3:57, clearly ahead of John Reniewicki (3:59) and Alec Basten (also 3:59).

The women’s Grand Blue Mile (and U.S. title) was won by first-time road miler Rachel McArthur, the 2022 NCAA Indoor fourth-placer for Colorado, who won in 4:33, just ahead of Anna Camp Bennett, the 2021 NCAA 1,500 m champ for BYU, who was given the same time.

At the indoor vault, held at the Jordan Creek Town Center, American record man KC Lightfoot won at men’s competition at 5.90 m (19-4 1/4), with Bridget Williams of the U.S. taking the women’s event at 4.68 m (15-4 1/4).

Spectacular success for the London Marathon, which set records for its most finishers ever and a record haul for charity.

Although the count is not final, more than 53,000 finished the race on Sunday out of 54,281 starters and more than £67 million was raised for charity (£1 = $1.24 U.S.), bettering the old high of £66.4 million from 2019.

● Figure Skating ● U.S. Figure Skating that its 2025 national championships will be held – for the first time – in Wichita, Kansas, from 20-26 January at the 15,750-seat INTRUST Bank Arena.

Skate America will again be held in Allen, Texas, from 18-20 October 2024.

● Wrestling ● Two-time Freestyle World Champion Frank Chamizo of Italy lost to Turan Bayramov of Azerbaijan in the semifinals of the European Olympic 74 kg Qualifier in Baku (AZE) on a controversial call that removed a winning, two-point move at the end of the match and gave Bayramov the win, 8-8, on criteria.

The Italians alleged multiple refereeing errors and Chamizo sensationally said that a bribe was offered for him to lose the match. On Tuesday, United World Wrestling said Chamizo had good grounds to be upset:

“During the Chamizo-Bayramov bout, Roman PAVLOV [UKR] was the referee on the mat, Ali M. SAIWAN [IRQ] was the judge and Aleksei BAZULIN [RUS] was the mat chairman. The referee delegation comprised Kamel BOUAZIZ [TUN], Ibrahim CICIOGLU [TUR] and Casey GOESSL [USA].

“The Disciplinary Chamber has decided to suspend both Pavlov and Cicioglu from all their duties until December 31, 2024. Saiwan is suspended from all his duties until September 30, 2024. Mat chairman for the bout Bazulin is suspended from all his duties until June 30, 2024, and the remaining two members of the referee delegation Bouaziz and Goessl have been handed suspensions from all their duties until June 30, 2024.”

The UWW formed two panels to look at the match officiating:

“Both panels agreed that some actions during the bout were not scored correctly, including not spotting the passivity of the wrestler(s). It also agreed that the refereeing consultations were not efficient, a timing error was made and the challenge consultation suffered major shortcomings in its functioning.

“In addition, the panels reported a gross lack of discernment in the assignment of the refereeing body, and in the distribution of the roles during the challenge for this specific match.”

The result of the match did not change, nothing has been said about Chamizo’s allegation of a bribe, and as far as Chamizo’s opportunity for Olympic qualification, “The Disciplinary Chamber, however, asked UWW to place Chamizo as a top seed in the brackets of the next qualifying event, the World OG Qualifier from April 9 in Istanbul.”

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