TSX REPORT: Ledecky, Douglass win, U.S. record for Fallon, Guiliano shocks at Trials; U.S. House doping hearing Tuesday; T&F Trials on Friday!

A U.S. House committee is going to talk doping and Paris 2024 on Tuesday! (Photo: Wikipedia)

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1. Wins for Ledecky, Douglass, but Fallon gets U.S. record at Trials
2. U.S. House hearing on doping & Paris called for Tuesday
3. Russian wrestling federation fine with Paris participation
4. U.S. Track & Field Trials start Friday in Eugene
5. City of L.A. pursuing convention center expansion for 2028

● A vibrant night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials saw Katie Ledecky romp to a win in the women’s 1,500 m Freestyle in a world-leading time, and Matt Fallon set an American Record in the men’s 200 m Breaststroke final, also in a world-leading time for 2024. But the drama was in the women’s 100 m Free, with Kate Douglass winning, but Simone Manuel also making to Paris for the relays, and in the men’s 100 Free, where Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano won over Cal’s Jack Alexy, with Tokyo Olympic champ Caeleb Dressel third and on the Paris plane on the relays.

● The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has called a hearing on doping at Paris 2024 for Tuesday, concerned about WADA’s performance as the worldwide regulator. The U.S. is one of the larger contributors to WADA’s annual budget.

● The Russian wrestling federation announced that it will not stand in the way of any of the 10 athletes cleared by the International Olympic Committee to participate as a “neutral” at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. One wrestler has already opted out, due to injury. Decisions are due on Thursday.

● The U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials start on Friday in Eugene, Oregon (again), with the top three in most events qualified to go to Paris. The American team has led the Olympic medal count in the sport in every Games from 1992 on and U.S. athletes already hold 26 spots in the top-three in the world outdoor list for 2024. NBC will have heavy nightly coverage. Also, 200 m star Erriyon Knighton was declared eligible after an arbitrator lifted his provisional suspension for doping.

● The City of Los Angeles has been trying to figure out how to expand the Los Angeles Convention Center again for years, to make it more competitive with other West Coast destination cities. A City Council committee has approved a plan to spend up to $54.4 million on design plans to add more space at a possible cost of $4.78 billion … and to be done by March 2028, in time for the LA28 Games!

U.S. Olympic Trials: Diving (Schnell and Parratto dominate women’s 10 m Synchro) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (Village being readied with 14,250 beds in 3,000 apartments) = Athletics (more AIU suspensions for doping: two Kenyans, one from Ethiopia) = Basketball (U.S.’s Brink injured, must be replaced on women’s 3×3) = Bobsled & Skeleton (Park City to get 2029 IBSF World Champs!) = Football (2: Germany stays perfect at Euro 2024; UEFA fines Albanian and Serbian federations) = Volleyball (Brazil 12-0 in women’s Nations League, on to quarterfinals) ●

Errata: Some readers saw a version of Wednesday’s night’s Olympic Swimming Trials bulletin that stated Kate Douglass swam in the women’s 200 m Breaststroke semis just 30 minutes after her 100 m freestyle win. She probably could, but it was 90 minutes. Sorry about that. ●

Wins for Ledecky, Douglass, but Fallon gets U.S. record at Trials

It was a wild night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, with the exception of the great Katie Ledecky, who posted the fastest time of the year in the women’s 1,500 m and will defend her Tokyo gold in Paris.

She destroyed a good field – as always – and clocked 15:37.35. The no. 16 performance in history, and she now owns the top 18 and 20 of the best 21. Behind her, Katie Grimes, the 2022 Worlds 1,500 m silver winner and already on the team in the women’s Open Water 10 km, was a solid second in 15:57.77.

Beyond that, things got crazy. The first event was the women’s 100 m Freestyle final, with Rio 2016 co-champ Simone Manuel looking to make her third Olympic team. And she was right there at the turn with 100 m Butterfly world-record-setter Gretchen Walsh, but on the way home, it was all about Kate Douglass. The winner of 15 NCAA titles at Virginia, Douglass had the fastest final 50 more by than a half-second and won in 52.56, moving to no. 5 in the world for 2024.

Torri Huske, who also made the team in the 100 Fly, finished powerfully for second (52.93), ahead of Walsh (53.13) and Manuel (53.25), who will both go to Paris for relays.

The final event was the men’s 100 m Free, with everyone wondering if Tokyo Olympic champ Caeleb Dressel could make it all the way back after taking a time-out on his career in 2022. But both Cal’s Jack Alexy and Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano had been stellar in the prelims, and they turned first in 22.51, with Rio 2016 Olympian Ryan Held third and Dressel fourth. Dressel gained, but not enough and Guiliano touched first in 47.38, with Alexy close (47.47) and Dressel in third (47.53). Dressel heads to Paris on the relays for sure, but he has more swimming to do this week.

If those weren’t enough, 2023 Worlds men’s 200 m Breaststroke bronze medalist Matt Fallon was suddenly the favorite after a superb semifinal effort. But he was much better in the final, moving up from 50 at the first turn to first at the final turn and powering away to finish in a world-leading 2:06.54, taking the American Record from Josh Prenot, who swam 2:07.17 back in 2016. Fallon is now the no. 5 performer of all-time.

Another 2023 medalist, 200 m Butterfly bronze winner Thomas Heilman – still just 17 – waited until the final lap to surge into the lead and won in 1:54.50, no. 5 on the 2024 world list. Luca Urlando, third at the Tokyo Trials in this event, got second in 1:55.08.

In the men’s 200 m Backstroke semifinals, Cal’s Keaton Jones came from nowhere to posted the fastest qualifier at 1:55.49 (no. 5 in 2024), ahead of Rio 2016 gold medalist Ryan Murphy (1:55.69), who won the second semi. They face off on Thursday.

Douglass was in the pool again about 90 minutes after winning the 100 Free, and led all qualifiers in 2:21.23, with 2022 World Champion Lilly King taking semi two in 2:22.45. Regan Smith, a day after her world-record win in the women’s 100 Back, won her semi in the 200 m Butterfly in 2:04.91, close to her seasonal best of 2:04.80, no. 2 in the world this year.

From Sports Media Watch:

“The first three nights of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials averaged 3.13 million viewers on NBC (including additional streaming viewership not tracked by Nielsen), up 17% from 2021. As one would expect, that figure is still well below the pre-COVID level of 2016 — when the first two nights (the event began on Sunday that year) averaged 5.2 and 4.5 million respectively. The first night of the diving trials averaged 2.74 million, up 42%.”

U.S. House hearing on doping & Paris called for Tuesday

Now the U.S. House of Representatives is getting into the act on doping questions about the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, with the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations scheduling a session on “Examining Anti-Doping Measures in Advance of the 2024 Olympics.”

It’s slated for a rare prime-time slot at 7 p.m. Eastern time at the Rayburn House Office Building, with confirmed witnesses including swimming stars Michael Phelps (2004-08-12-16 Olympian) and Allison Schmitt (2008-12-16-20), and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart, who can be expected to lambast the World Anti-Doping Agency as he has done for years.

Also invited, but not confirmed is WADA President Witold Banka (POL), who did not accept an invitation to a hearing before the Sports Committee of the German Bundestag in late May, citing other commitments.

In the statement announcing the hearing, Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) and Oversight & Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia) said:

“Olympic athletes dedicate years of their lives to perfect their craft in order to represent the United States on the world stage. They – as well as athletes from every other country – deserve to compete on a level playing field that’s free of banned performance enhancing drugs.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency, the governing body responsible for enforcing fair standards, has a questionable track record of fulfilling that mission. This hearing will give Members a chance to examine that track record, identify opportunities for improvement, and ensure that the best athletes are the ones taking home gold medals.”

The U.S. is one of the larger contributors to WADA’s annual budget – $2.932 million in 2021 out of $43.4 million – however, half of its funding comes from the International Olympic Committee. The hearing is open to the public and will be streamed online.

A separate inquiry in May from the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party asked the U.S. Justice Department to look into the 2021 decision by WADA not to challenge the findings of the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency on 23 doping positives for trimetazidine among Chinese swimmers, several of whom went on to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Games and some who are expected to compete in Paris.

Banka noted in his message to the German Bundestag that the allegations of “mass doping of Chinese swimmers and a deliberate cover-up by WADA – are entirely false. … the analytical results in these cases were simply not compatible with doping.”

Russian wrestling federation fine with Paris participation

A total of 10 Russian wrestlers were cleared last Saturday by the International Olympic Committee to compete as “neutrals” at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, out of 16 quota places.

The results, meaning that six places earned by Russian athletes would be returned for re-distribution to wrestlers from other countries, enraged the Russian Wrestling Federation, which said it would meet with the athletes to determine if anyone should go to Paris.

Following that meeting on Wednesday, federation chief Mikhail Mamiashvili told the Russian news agency TASS:

“The athletes who received invitations expressed their desire to participate in the Olympic Games. At the moment, they have agreed to comply with the charter of the International Olympic Committee and the charter of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“Members of the executive committee today unanimously supported our athletes in this, however, to say that our participation it’s finally confirmed in the Olympics, it’s still early.”

Confirmations back to the IOC are apparently due back on Thursday (20th), with 2021 European women’s 59 kg Freestyle silver medalist Veronika Chumikova saying Wednesday she cannot compete in Paris in view of an injury. She was apparently approved for the 57 kg class as the wrestlers who won the quota places; the 59 kg class is not an Olympic event.

Three Russian cyclists were approved to compete in Paris, with Russian cycling federation head Vyacheslav Ekimov telling TASS:

“We have conveyed all the information to the athletes. They still have time until tomorrow to make a decision on participation in the Olympics. On June 20, everything will become clear.”

The IOC expects a reply by Thursday so places can be re-allocated if invited athletes decide not to compete in Paris. One of the selected “neutrals” is Aleksandr Vlasov, a men’s road rider who has finished in the top six this season at Paris-Nice (4), The Volta Ciclista de Catalunya (4), the Tour de Romandie (2) and the Criterium du Dauphine (6).

U.S. Track & Field Trials start Friday in Eugene

What is often called the best track meet held every four years – the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials – starts on Friday in Eugene, Oregon, with places on the line for what is expected to be a powerhouse U.S. team.

From a low of 16 medals at Sydney in 2000, American track & field athletes rebounded to win 25 medals in Athens in 2004, then 25 in Beijing in 2008, 28 in London in 2012, 32 in Rio in 2016 and 26 in Tokyo in 2021.

How does the U.S. stand now? Consider how many Americans are in the world outdoor top three going into the Trials:

Men (10):
100 m: 2. Noah Lyles
200 m: 1. Kenny Bednarek; 2. Courtney Lindsey
110 m hurdles: 1. Grant Holloway; 3. Dylan Beard
400 m hurdles: 2. Rai Benjamin
High Jump: 2. JuVaughn Harrison
Pole Vault: 2. Sam Kendricks
Shot: 1. Joe Kovacs; 3. Payton Otterdahl

Women (16):
100 m: 1. Jacious Sears; 3. Sha’Carri Richardson
200 m: 1. McKenzie Long; 2. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone; 3. Gabby Thomas
400 m: 1. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
400 m hurdles: 2. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone; 3. Jasmine Jones
Pole Vault: 1. Katie Moon
Long Jump: 2. Tara Davis-Woodhall
Shot: 2. Chase Jackson; 3. Jaida Ross
Discus: 2. Valarie Allman
Hammer: 1. Brooke Andersen; 3. DeAnna Price
Javelin: 3. Maggie Malone Hardin

And, of course, some stars – world-record holder Ryan Crouser in the men’s shot, for example – have not competed outdoors, preferring to continue training. It will be fascinating to see what this total will be after the Trials are concluded.

(For those wondering, world women’s 100 m leader Sears, injured at the SEC meet in May and not seen since, is declared to compete in Eugene.)

NBC’s television schedule calls for extensive coverage daily during the eight days of competition (all times Eastern):

21 June (Fri.): 6:30-9 p.m. on USA; 9-11 p.m. on NBC
22 June (Sat.): 9-11 p.m. on NBC
23 June (Sun.): 8:30-11 p.m. on NBC
24 June (Mon.): 8-11 p.m. on NBC
27 June (Thu.): 8-9 p.m. on NBC; 9-11 p.m. on USA
28 June (Fri.): 8-10 p.m. on USA; 10-11 p.m. on NBC
29 June (Sat.): 8-10 p.m. on NBC
30 June (Sun.): 7:30-8:30 p.m. on NBC

Prize money will be paid to the top eight finishers: $11,000-8,800-6,600-4,400-3,400-2,200-1,100-1,100 or $38,600 per event. That’s across 40 events for a total of $1.544 million.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that 200 m star Erriyon Knighton – the 2023 Worlds silver medalist – received a no-fault violation from an arbitrator “after testing positive for a metabolite of trenbolone during an out-of-competition drug test on March 26, 2024.” He had been provisionally suspended on 12 April.

According to the announcement, a hearing was held on 14 and 16 June and:

“After the hearing, the arbitrator determined that Knighton’s positive test was more likely than not caused by consuming meat contaminated with trenbolone, which is a known livestock growth promoter that is used legally in beef cattle produced in and exported to the United States. Knighton tested positive despite any fault or negligence, so he will not face a period of ineligibility.”

Knighton is immediately eligible to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

City of L.A. pursuing convention center expansion for 2028

The Los Angeles Convention Center opened in 1971 and discussions immediately began about expansion. The facility comprised 334,000 sq. ft. and was centered on a giant, single exhibition hall which was used as the Main Press Center for the 1984 Olympic Games.

The expansion came in 1993 with the addition of the massive South Hall and related facilities, bringing the facility to 720,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, plus dozens of meeting rooms and a theater.

But the expansion talk never stopped and plans have been approved and shelved starting in 2018 to expand again with a connecting hall across Pico Boulevard between the two main exhibit halls.

On Tuesday (18th), the Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee of the Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to spend up to $54.4 million in design work to enable the construction of an expansion in time for use by the LA28 organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This would include “Up to 190,000 square feet of additional exhibit hall space contiguous to and connecting the existing South and West Halls,” plus added meeting room spaces and multi-use spaces.

This still requires City Council approval; the staff report on the project noted that “LA28, the organizing committee for the 2028 Games, may require the right to occupy and use the LACC starting as early as March 27, 2028″ and that construction would need to be completed by that date. The report warned:

“These recommendations provide the only viable path forward for the Expansion Project given the time available to complete the project, but there are schedule risks. …

“Certain 2028 Games events are slated for the LACC, Crypto.com Arena, and LA Live. If the LACC is not fully functional by March 27, 2028, the City would be at risk of losing these events to venues outside of the area, and potentially outside Los Angeles, and in turn sacrificing the related revenues and benefits that would be generated by the City and local businesses.”

The staff report noted that the total bill for construction and financing over a 30-year period could be $4.78 billion.

The original LA28 venue plan envisioned the Convention Center – as currently configured – to host basketball preliminaries, boxing, fencing, table tennis and taekwondo. Boxing is currently not on the 2028 program and could be dropped by the International Olympic Committee as early as 2025.

However, wrestling – originally placed at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, but now needed as a training site for the Olympic Village – would be a good fit for the Convention Center, as would the added sport of squash.

Further, the Convention Center expansion areas (if built) would do nicely to house the Main Press Center for the 2028 Games – a la 1984 – with excellent access to media housing at USC and Exposition Park. The current LA28 bid plan has the Main Press Center spread out among several buildings on the USC campus, a less-than-desirable concept.

The driver for the expansion has little to do with the 2028 Olympic Games, but to be more competitive with other West Coast convention sites, such as San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Having the expanded LACC available for the 2028 Games would be a massive commercial for the facility.

The City of Long Beach approved updated Venue Use Guarantee agreement with the LA28 organizers as the 11 June 2024 meeting of the City Council, also recognizing the publicly-unannounced move of the canoe sprint and rowing competitions from Lake Perris in Riverside County to the Long Beach Marine Stadium, where the rowing events were held at the 1932 Olympic Games.

The Council voted 6-0 (one recusal) to update the agreements for the 2024 Olympic bid to 2028 and 7-0 to include the Marine Stadium as part of the Venue Use Guarantee program for 2028.

The facilities covered include the Long Beach Convention Center, Marina Green and Alamitos Beach, the Belmont Shore beach area and the Marine Stadium.

The original LA28 venue plan placed handball at the Long Beach Arena, sailing from the adjacent Long Beach waterfront area and BMX cycling, water polo, open-water swimming and triathlon at the Belmont Shore area, using temporary facilities.


● Diving ● Much less dramatic then the men’s 3 m Synchro battle on Tuesday was the women’s 10 m Synchro event, won easily by Tokyo 2020 silver medalists Delaney Schnell and Jessica Parratto.

Parratto, 29, had retired after competing at Rio 2016 in the women’s 10 m and with Amy Cozad in the 10 m Synchro and then winning Olympic silver in 2021 with Schnell. But after Parratto retired and was then coaxed back into competition, they won a Worlds bronze in 2023 in Fukuoka (JPN) in the 10 m Synchro and are on their way to Paris.

They led after first, five-dive session by 303.90 to 245.88 for Gabrielle Filzen and Bailee Sturgill and expanded it in the second set to a final score of 607.14 to 494.13.

Schnell and Parratto posted the top score on all 10 dives of the event, with Schnell headed to her second Games and Parratto to her third.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The Paris 2024 organizers shared details of the Athlete Village, now being readied for the Games in July, with 14,250 beds for the 10,500 athletes plus officials, arranged in 3,000 apartments arranged host 4-8 people in residences of one to four bedrooms each.

The furniture order was for 345,000 pieces, including 8,200 fans and 5,535 sofas. The main dining hall will seat 3,200 and offer 40,000 meals daily and the 31,000 sq. ft. fitness center will be equipped with 350 machines of varying types. Training sites within the Village will support basketball, fencing, handball, modern pentathlon, weightlifting, wrestling and breaking.

The transport hub will have 55 bus bays and is expected to service 150 arrivals and departures per hour.

And for the 26 July opening, the “Village Club” – 8,200 sq. ft. – will offer giant screens and meal services for those athletes who will not attend the opening on the Seine, especially the swimmers, whose competitions begin the next day.

● Athletics ● More doping suspensions from the Athletics Integrity Unit, starting with Kenyan 2:27:12 marathoner Sophy Jepchirchir, 30, banned for three years from 7 June 2024 for using Testosterone.

Ibrahim Mukunga (Kenya: 2:24:41 for the marathon), now 31, was banned for six years from 4 October 2022 for using the steroid Norandrosterone and hormone therapy drug Tamoxifen.

The AIU provisionally suspended Nazret Weldu of Eritrea, a 2:20:49 marathoner who was fourth at the 2022 World Championships marathon in Eugene, for “whereabouts failures.”

● Basketball ● Bad news for rookie Cameron Brink of the L.A. Sparks and a member of the U.S. women’s 3×3 team for Paris, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during Tuesday’s loss at the Connecticut Sun.

Brink was a member of the American team which won the 2023 FIBA women’s World Cup, with Cierra Burdick, Linnae Harper and Haley Van Lith. Burdick and Van Lith are on the Paris team, along with Rhyne Howard, but a replacement for Brink will be needed.

● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The IBSF Congress meeting in Lake Placid, New York, awarded World Champions for 2027 to 2029, with Lillehammer (NOR), St. Moritz (SUI) and Park City, Utah to host.

The Utah Olympic Park facility which hosted the Salt Lake City 2022 Olympic Winter Games has never hosted an IBSF Worlds. Lake Placid has been a recent site in 2003-09-12 and has hosted the Worlds a total of nine times.

Salt Lake City is expected to be voted in as the host of the 2034 Olympic Winter Games in July.

● Football ● Second-round matches continued at UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany, with the hosts getting a second tournament goal from midfielder Jamal Musiala in the 22nd minute and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan in the 67th to shut down Hungary, 2-0, in Stuttgart, to confirm their place in the elimination round.

Also in Group A, Scotland scored first but the Swiss tied it midway through the first half and the game ended in a 1-1 tie in Cologne. In Group B, a wild game between Croatia and Albania saw the Albanians up by 1-0 late, but then midfielder Andrej Kramaric tied it in the 74th and Croatia went up, 2-1, on an own goal by Albanian midfielder Klaus Gjasula in the 76th.

But Gjasula made up for it by scoring deep into stoppage time – 90+5! – to finish off a 2-2 tie in Hamburg.

Pool play continues through the 26th.

UEFA’s disciplinary team has been busy, and handed out multiple sanctions on Wednesday (€1 = $1.07 U.S.):

● Four sanctions against the Albanian Football Federation following its 2-1 loss to Italy on 15 June in Dortmund, for a total of €37,375 for lighting of fireworks, throwing of objects, fans running on the field and “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event,” apparently “nationalist maps” which showed foreign territories as part of the country.

● Two sanctions against the Serbian Football Federation totaling €14,500 for throwing of objects (beer cups) and “provocative messages,” also for a map which showed the independent state of Kosovo as still a part of Serbia. These were from Serbia’s 1-0 loss to England in Gelsenkirchen on 16 June.

No sanction was imposed after reports of confrontations between English and Serbian fans in a bar near the stadium, after the match.

● Volleyball ● The FIVB Women’s Nations League round-robin is complete, with Brazil taking a 12-0 record into the final playoff round in Thailand.

The U.S. finished seventh at 7-5 and secured the last spot for the playoffs, with Thailand (3-9) automatically qualified as host. The quarterfinals are on 20-21 June, with the semis on Saturday and the final on Sunday. The brackets:

● Brazil (12-0) vs. Thailand (3-9)
● China (9-3) vs. Japan (8-4)

● U.S. (7-5) vs. Italy (10-2)
● Poland (10-2) vs. Turkey (8-4)

Turkey won its first Nations League title by defeating China in the 2023 final in Arlington, Texas.

The men’s Nations League is still in round-robin play through this weekend, with Slovenia leading at 8-1, followed by Poland and Italy at 7-2. The U.S. is 3-6 so far and in 12th position; the top eight advance to the playoff round in Lodz (POL).

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