TSX REPORT: Michael Johnson announces a “track league” for 2025; 16 champs back for World Athletics Indoors; doping tests using sweat?

Olympic icon Michael Johnson announced plans for a new track & field "league" in 2025 (Photo: kb1367 via Wikipedia)

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1. Michael Johnson, Winners Alliance to create track league in ‘25
2. 16 champs return for World Indoors in Glasgow this weekend
3. A vote for tournament-style long jumping (and more)
4. Sailing’s Olympic future needs more excitement
5. USADA in partnership for anti-doping sweat testing!

● Track & field icon Michael Johnson announced in a Sportico.com story that he is teaming with the Winners Alliance arm of the Professional Tennis Players Association to form a new track & field “league” to debut in 2025.

● The 19th World Athletics Indoor Championships is in Glasgow, Scotland starting on Friday, with 651 athletes from 133 federations. The U.S. has an overwhelming team, but 16 gold medalists from the 2022 Indoor Worlds are back to defend.

● The head of the National Scholastic Athletics Federation wrote to say he endorses the “tournament-style” format for the horizontal jumps and throws, with this format already in use – and well accepted – for its indoor and outdoor national championship meets.

● World Sailing published its Olympic Vision report, looking ahead to 2032. It calls for making the sport more exciting, its athletes more recognizable and the costs to access the sport and especially the Olympic Classes boats less expensive to use and transport.

● The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced a partnership with Epicore Biosystems to create a doping sample collection process using an athlete’s sweat and a wearable sensor!

Panorama: Paris 2024 (2: no family visits for French athletes to Olympic Village; more track & field tickets coming next Monday) = Beijing 2022 Winter Games (U.S. skaters want a Paris medal ceremony) = Athletics (2: Belarus coach who tried to send Tsimanouskaya home from Tokyo sanctioned; Euro Athletics chief says indoor track centered in Europe) = Cycling (Slovak star Sagan undergoes ablation) = Football (Brazil wins CONCACAF W Gold Cup Group B) = Weightlifting (four more retired Russian lifters sanctioned) ●

Michael Johnson, Winners Alliance to create track league in ‘25

“I love this sport and owe everything I have to this sport.

“It’s been a shame for me to watch it over the last couple decades since I retired not be able to continue to provide the same amazing moments to people, outside of just the Olympics.”

That’s quadruple Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, one of the iconic stars of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and world-record setter in the 200 m, 400 m and 4×400 m relay, speaking to Sportico.com about a new track & field “league” he wants to debut in 2025.

The project is being developed with Winners Alliance, founded in 2022 and self-described as “a global, athlete-centric commercial solution dedicated to creating novel group licensing, sponsorship, partnership, content, investment and event opportunities for athletes collectively so they can win on and off the playing field.” The Sportico story identified it as the “for-profit arm of the Professional Tennis Players Association.”

The Winners Alliance chief executive is Ahmad Nassar, the Executive Director of the Professional Tennis Players Association, with Eric Winston as President – the former head of the NFL Players Association from 2014-20 – and Vivek Khanna as the Chief Operating Officer, previously at the OneTeam Partners players-rights organization.

There were no details about the format, funding or timing of the new track & field venture, but the story noted that discussions are under way with World Athletics, also now devoted to trying to expand the sport during the third term of President Sebastian Coe (GBR). The story explained:

“Johnson doesn’t view his upstart league as a competitor but believes it can elevate the status of the Diamond League, often treated by the world’s best athletes as a preparation tool for Olympic and world championships.”

Said Winston of the partnership with Johnson and track & field:

“We just felt like it’s the right time, right person and right place. And with our engine we can really give this the boost it needs to get it going.”

Johnson wrote on X (ex-Twitter) on Tuesday:

“I had a choice of partners for this venture. I chose @WinnersAlliance for their experience and commitment to unlocking value in undervalued sports and empowering athletes. Let’s go!”

He has been vocal about the need to reform track & field to make it more popular and more remunerative for its athletes. A 2022 Twitter thread highlighted on this site included these observations:

“I asked what sport represents a successful example of what track & field could be or should be. In the thread below I have listed my response to some of the replies, and end with my opinion what the sport needs to achieve it’s potential. …

“Tennis/Golf. Individual sports, most comparable to track. 4 ‘Majors’ every year serve as the pinnacle. T&F calendar is confusing & crowded. Olympics, World Champs, 14 Diamond League events. All presented as major, but Olympics is ‘The Major’, and not controlled by the sport. …

“Team sports. Make T&F a team sport. Sports fans identify with teams. NFL, NBA, EPL, etc. To successfully transition to a team sport or add a team element requires a well orchestrated approach that won’t create more confusion with athletes sometimes team and sometimes not.”

16 champs return for World Indoors in Glasgow this weekend

A big field of 651 athletes from 133 countries are getting ready for the 19th World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow (GBR) that will commence on Friday. World Athletics posted the entries over the weekend, with 20 World Champions entered and 15 of the gold medalists from the 2022 championships in Belgrade (SRB) back to defend in their events:

Men (10 of 12 individual events):
400 m: Jereem Richards (TTO)
800 m: Mariano Garcia (ESP)
1,500 m: Samuel Tefera (ETH)
3,000 m: Selemon Barega (ETH)
60 m Hurdles: Grant Holloway (USA)
High Jump: Sang-hyeok Woo (KOR)
Pole Vault: Mondo Duplantis (SWE)
Long Jump: Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE)
Triple Jump: Lazaro Martinez (CUB)
Shot Put: Darlan Romani (BRA)

Women (5 of 12):
3,000 m: Lemlem Hailu (ETH)
60 m hurdles: Cyrena Samba-Mayela (FRA)
High Jump: Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR)
Pole Vault: Sandi Morris (USA)
Pentathlon: Noor Vidts (BEL)

In addition, Ethiopian star Gudaf Tsegay, who won the 1,500 m in Belgrade, is entered in the 3,000 m – where she is the world leader – in Glasgow. That’s 16 returning winners from 2022 in all.

There’s good prize money, too, for places 1-6 in all finals: $40,000-20,000-10,000-8,000-4,000, plus a $50,000 bonus for a world record, of special interest to Duplantis, who jumped a then-record 6.20 m (20-4) in 2022! Three 2024 world indoor record setters – Holloway, Femke Bol (NED) in the women’s 400 m and Devynne Charlton (BAH) in the 60 m hurdles are also paying attention!

In terms of teams, the U.S. is sending an overwhelming squad, almost as large as the next three biggest teams combined:

● 71 United States (37 men + 34 women)
● 25 Great Britain (7 + 18)
● 24 Belgium (14 + 10)
● 24 Poland (13 + 11)
● 23 Czech Republic (15 + 8)
● 23 Jamaica (8 + 15)
● 22 Netherlands (12 + 10)
● 21 Italy (11 + 10)
● 21 Spain (8 + 13)
● 20 Brazil (9 + 11)

The U.S. won 19 medals to nine for Ethiopia in 2022 and no one else had more than three total. Based strictly on entry marks for this meet, the U.S. stands to score 21 medals, with 13 for men (6-5-2) and eight for women (2-0-6). Of course, it won’t turn out that way.

As usual, NBC has the rights to show the meet on U.S. television, with the live coverage on the Peacock streaming channel and delayed coverage on CNBC (all times Eastern):

01 Mar. (Fri. a.m.): 4:45-9:10 a.m. on Peacock
01 Mar. (Fri. p.m.): 2:00-5:00 p.m. on Peacock; Saturday 9:00 a.m.-noon on CNBC
Finals: Men/60 m, shot; Women/high jump, shot, pentathlon.

02 Mar. (Sat. a.m.): 4:50-9:20 a.m. on Peacock
02 Mar. (Sat. p.m.): 2:00-5:00 p.m. on Peacock; Sunday 8:00 a.m.-11 a.m. on CNBC
Finals: Men/400 m, 3,000 m, 60 m hurdles, long jump, triple jump; Women/60 m, 400 m, 3,000 m, vault.

03 Mar. (Sun. a.m.): 4:55-8:40 a.m. on Peacock
03 Mar. (Sun. p.m.): 2:00-5:00 p.m. on Peacock and CNBC
Finals: Men/800 m, 1,500 m, 4×400 m, vault, heptathlon; Women/800 m, 1,500 m, 60 m hurdles, 4×400 m, long jump, triple jump.

Russian and Belarusian athletes are not allowed to compete in view of the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A vote for tournament-style long jumping (and more)

Following Tuesday’s post with a suggestion by Sean Ingle of The Guardian (GBR) for a tournament-style format for the long jump (and other events), came this message from Josh Rowe of Eugene, Oregon endorsing the idea:

“It was interesting to read about Sean Ingle’s long jump tournament-style concept. I am the CEO of the National Scholastic Athletics Federation (NSAF) which owns and operates the high school national indoor and outdoor track & field championships in the U.S.

“We’ve run our HS championship events for over 30 years. A few years ago, I came up with this same format for the horizontal jumps and the throws. We’ve now been using this format since 2022 at our Nike Indoor Nationals and Nike Outdoor Nationals events.

“We started in 2022 with the long jump and javelin. In the last few events, we’ve been using the format with the shot put where it works very well due to the personalities in the event. We now call it the ‘Shot Put Showcase’ at our events and it will again be contested at the 2024 Nike Indoor Nationals at The Armory in NYC next week.

“The format works very well. We put a bracket on the jumbotron in the stadium so the fans can follow along and the best thing about it is the winner is determined in a head-to-head match-up that everyone can watch in the moment. Both the crowd and the athletes seem to enjoy it.

“I hope the format finds a larger following in the sport as it is much more engaging than the traditional field-event format.”

Anyone else already using this concept?

Sailing’s Olympic future needs more excitement

Truer words were never written than the introduction to the 39-page World Sailing Olympic Vision document, made public on Tuesday:

“Sailing’s place in the Olympic Games is valuable to the health of the whole sport for two reasons:

“– It is an unequalled ‘shop window’ for sailing, offering a gateway to millions of potential sailors and fans

“– The Olympic Dividend provides a significant part of World Sailing’s revenue.”

Sailing’s place in the Olympic Games has changed, with more gender equality, but with events down from 11 at Beijing 2008 to 10 for Paris 2024, and from 400 sailors in 2008 to 330 this year due to the 10,500 total athlete cap.

The document shows World Sailing’s Olympic priorities to Brisbane 2032 focused on four areas:

Marketability: to grow engagement and excitement
Accessibility: creating an annual schedule and pathway to the Games
Sustainability: in equipment, transportation and sourcing
Diversity: more athletes from more places and technology to reach and train more officials

An important part of the Accessibility area concerns boat classes, which have proved to be highly contentious in the past; it was noted “decisions on Olympic formats and equipment are only made to strengthen Sailing’s position in the Olympic Games.”

Under the Marketability segment, the emphasis was on promoting sailors as stars, in part by creating “an inspirational World Cup Series” that raises the profile of both the sports and the sailors. That’s not going to be easy and the plan did not cite specific ideas to do this.

Accessibility issues focused on lowering the cost of entry to the sport – a significant challenge – and a target to “Develop the sport so that it appeals to the best athletes to choose sailing over other sports.” Development efforts also need to be extended to fans: “Develop media and spectator friendly formats for the Olympic Games to help showcase the sport of Sailing.”

Equipment is also a Sustainability issue, with a call for phasing in “Supplied equipment becoming mandatory for all Olympic class events” and “Cutting the amount of air travel needed to compete at the highest level,” in order to make the sport easier to engage with outside of the North American and European countries which now dominate.

The report noted that only 93 of a potential 144 National Olympic Committees have participated in Olympic sailing from 2004-24.

World Sailing, like so many other federations, is heavily dependent on a share of International Olympic Committee television revenue, and is in the fourth tier, receiving $15.14 million for Rio 2016 and for Tokyo 2020. As of the end of 2022, World Sailing had assets of £8.08 million (£1 = $1.27 U.S. today), but only £2.81 million in revenue for 2022 compared to £13.54 million in 2021, when it received most of its Olympic television share.

USADA in partnership for anti-doping sweat testing!

Now this could be revolutionary. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Epicore Biosystems, a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech company offering microfluidic sensing platforms, announced a partnership to create a doping-test protocol using sweat:

“To date, athletes have been required to submit blood and/or urine samples for anti-doping efforts, which can be time-consuming and feel invasive for athletes. The Epicore and USADA partnership aims to dramatically improve the status quo by providing a non-invasive, wearable approach to conventional screening using biomarkers and drug detection in sweat.

“The technology could be especially valuable for in-competition testing to minimize the impact of doping control during a time when athletes face significant demands on their time and bodies.”

In fact, if the concept blossoms, it could radically change the doping control system, potentially – eventually – eliminating urine collection, which can be very time-consuming as well as simply inconvenient and unpleasant. With the introduction of dried bloodspot testing as well, doping control based on sweat monitoring and bloodspot collection could take just minutes and not require athletes to ingest fluids to produce a urine sample.

And the infrastructure required would be minimized, eliminating the need for toilets and stalls for privacy and producing substantial cost savings, especially for multi-sport events where doping installations must be available at every venue.

Although publicized on Tuesday, the project is not new:

“The collaboration began in 2023 with a proof-of-concept study, which revealed the ability to easily and reliably collect a sweat sample from multiple locations on the body that is suitable for drug analyses from an exercising athlete.

“Epicore and USADA are continuing exploratory research work to better understand the viability and application of sweat as a drug screening matrix that is less burdensome for athletes while also providing them with valuable hydration health insights for performance, recovery and resilience.”

Epicore’s primary business is sweat monitoring via a skin-worn patch to provide personal performance and health feedback. The extension to doping control is a logical next step in sport. No timetable on development was provided.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The FrancsJeux.com site reported that the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) announced a strict Olympic Village access policy that will not allow athlete families to visit. Village access during the Games will be limited to team support staff – coaches, physiotherapists, physicians and so on – but not to family members.

Instead, French team members will be able to visit with family at the nearby, 138-room B&B Hotel Paris Saint-Denis Pleyel, with a special hospitality space available and overnight rooms if needed. These regulations will apply even to mothers with infants, as the latter will not be admitted to the Village.

Paris 2024 announced a new sale of tickets for athletics events starting on 4 March (next Monday: 150 days to go), with new availabilities, apparently in all sessions and all price categories.

● Olympic Winter Games 2022: Beijing ● USA Today’s Christine Brennan posted Monday on X (ex-Twitter):

“Olympic medal ceremony update: all nine members of the 2022 U.S. figure skating team want to have their gold-medal ceremony at the 2024 Paris Olympics, USOPC says. Pending IOC approval, it would occur the second week of the Games Aug. 4-11 and include a celebration at USA House.

“The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly said that it will do whatever the athletes want for the long-delayed medal ceremony.”

In the meantime, the new Russian appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have to be dealt with first, but should be resolved well ahead of July.

● Athletics ● Remember the Krystsina Tsimanouskaya affair from Tokyo 2021? The Belarus sprinter complained on social media about her coaches during the Games and was sent home, only to ask Tokyo airport security for asylum, eventually ending up in Poland, where she now lives with her family.

On Tuesday, the Athletics Integrity Unit sanctioned the coach in the middle of that incident:

“Former Belarus Olympic head coach, Yury Moisevich, has been banned for five years by a Disciplinary Tribunal, after being found in breach of the World Athletics’ Integrity Code of Conduct, stemming from Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s controversial withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games in August 2021.”

Moisevich was held to have violated the Code provisions on athlete dignity and honesty, but was cleared of a third charge. The statement said that Moisevich had retired last May. The announcement further noted:

“Tsimanouskaya recorded part of her conversations with Moisevich, the content of which served as evidence during the hearing, and which the Disciplinary Panel said confirmed Moisevich ‘perpetrated, or, at the very least, assisted in the perpetration of a false narrative concerning the Athlete’s mental and emotional state to justify her immediate removal from the Olympic Games pursuant to an order from the Ministry of Sport.’”

European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov (BUL) has no doubt about where the center of indoor track and field is:

“Europe remains the focal point for indoor/short track athletics and let me give you some statistics that justify this.

“Out of the 60 World Athletics Indoor Tour meetings that took place this year, 52 of them were in Europe: four out of the seven Gold meetings, all 16 of the Silver meetings, 12 of the 15 Bronze meetings and 20 of the 22 Challenger meetings.”

Pretty impressive, although the vibrant collegiate indoor season in the U.S. would rank right with the European schedule in both quantity and quality.

● Cycling ● Three-time World Road Champion Peter Sagan (SVK), who transitioned from road cycling to mountain bike at the end of last season, underwent an ablation in Italy to relieve episodes of tachycardia, with heart rates over 200 beats per minute during a race in Spain last week.

The procedure is common and Sagan is pointing to resume his quest to qualify for the Paris 2024 Mountain Bike races at the MTB French Cup in Marseille that begins on 15 March. He rode in the Mountain Bike Cross-Country event at the Rio 2016 Games, finishing 35th.

Sagan, a seven-time winner of the Points classification of the Tour de France, said he plans to retire from competitive cycling after this season.

● Football ● Play in Group B of the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup concluded in San Diego on Tuesday, with Colombia defeating Puerto Rico, 2-0, in the opener to take a temporary lead in the group, but with Brazil eventually topping the table after swamping Panama, 5-0.

The Selecao jumped to the lead quickly, with goals by striker Geyse in the fourth minute on an arcing shot from outside the box and a Bia Menezes left-side header in the 10th. It was 3-0 in the 24th off a header by defender Rafaelle Souza from the middle of the box, and 3-0 at the half, with Brazil owning 67% of possession.

The second half was more of the same, with Brazil on the attack. Debinha scored off a deflected shot from in front of the goal in the 61st, Geyse got a second on a deflection off a defender in the 74th,

The big win gave Brazil a 3-0 group record and nine points, with Colombia second. Canada (2-0) and Costa Rica (1-1) will play Wednesday in Houston to decide Group C, with the quarterfinals to be held on 2-3 March.

● Weightlifting ● Four more retired Russian weightlifters were suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation, based on data recovered by the World Anti-Doping Agency from the Moscow Laboratory of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in 2019, for doping violations committed in 2012.

Evgeny Kolomiets, the 2011 World Junior 94 kg silver winner, was suspended for two years (following a prior, 10-year ban) and 2009 European Junior 105 kg gold medalist Eduard Mezhgikhov, 2011 European Junior 77 kg silver medalist Alexander Safaryan and 2008 European Championships 85 kg silver medalist Vasily Polovnikov, all for four years.

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