The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Millrose Games draws 1.087 million on TV; Macron protects Seine booksellers; anti-doping pioneer Catlin passes at 85

Eight American Records in six lifts for 61 kg teen star Hampton Morris! (Photo: USA Weightlifting on Instagram)

The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★

To get The Sports Examiner by e-mail: sign up here!

★ Can you help? Now 26 donors have covered 52.3% of our technical and support costs goal. But we need your help too. Please consider a donation to help keep TSX going. Thank you.


1. Millrose Games draws million-plus on TV; Lyles wants more
2. Paris 2024: Macron intervenes to save booksellers along Seine
3. Paris 2024: Balconies along the Seine the newest worry
4. Francophone Games 2027 to Armenia (yes, Armenia)
5. Anti-doping pioneer Dr. Don Catlin passes at 85

● The Millrose Games drew more than one million television viewers on NBC on Sunday, an 11% increase over 2023, but not as strong as the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix a week earlier. But Noah Lyles wants more.

● French President Emmanuel Macron decided that the famed booksellers boxes along the Seine River will not be moved for the Olympic opening on 26 July. The security folks will have to work around them.

● The newest worry in Paris is overcrowding on balconies that overlook the Seine, as two people were hurt in a balcony break last year.

● The 2027 Jeux de la Francophonie was awarded to Armenia, which has just 10,000 French speakers among 3.2 million people. But when you need a host, anyone who wants to do it is welcome, right?

● Anti-doping pioneer Dr. Don Catlin, who headed the UCLA laboratory created for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, passed away at 85, leaving a legacy of achievement on which today’s anti-doping protocols are based.

World Championships: Aquatics (2: Curzan and Armstrong sweep 100 m Back titles) = Biathlon (Vittozzi stops French sweep at women’s Worlds) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (French ministry confirms IOC will decide on Russia and Belarus) = Los Angeles 2028 (Russian Olympic Committee SecGen says U.S. wants Russia at L.A.) = World Anti-Doping Agency (2: 241 sanctions so far in Russian LIMS cases; WADA pursuing Nigeria and Venezuela at CAS) = Russia (Sadulaev allowed at European wrestling champs) = Athletics (long doping suspensions for Chepchirchir and Rachna) = Shooting (Hancock and Rhode win World Cup Mixed Team Skeet) = Weightlifting (Morris scores European Champs “win” for U.S.) = Wrestling (UWW re-admits Indian federation, with conditions) ●

Millrose Games draws million-plus on TV; Lyles wants more

In a difficult scheduling environment on Super Sunday, the Millrose Games on NBC drew 12% more viewers than in 2023, with an average audience of 1.087 million from 1-3 p.m. Eastern time.

That’s up from 972,000 in 2023, on a Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern, a bit better time slot, and continued an improved audience situation for both major indoor meets on NBC so far:

2023: 866,000 for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (4 Feb.)
2024: 1.197 million on 4 February (+38.2%)

2023: 972,000 for the Millrose Games (11 Feb.)
2024: 1.087 million on 11 February (+11.8%)

2023: 954,000 for the USATF Indoor Nationals (18 Feb.)
2024: Coming up on Saturday (17 Feb.: 4 p.m. Eastern)

The Millrose Games itself was spectacular, with a world record in the women’s 60 m hurdles, a world best in the men’s Two Mile and three American Records. One interested viewer who wanted more was triple World Champion Noah Lyles, who tweeted:

“Really wish there was a post show to watch [so] we can talk about everything that happened at @MillroseGames like they had at @NBIndoorGP”

NBC’s Millrose broadcast ranked fourth in its time slot, behind a CBS pre-Super Bowl show (3.11 million), the Iowa-Nebraska women’s basketball game on Fox (1.772 million) and the first two hours of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf on the Golf Channel (1.243 million). The first hour of the Boston-Miami NBA game at 2 p.m. Eastern on ABC was also ahead of Millrose at 2.131 million.

The Millrose telecast again showed weakness among younger fans in the 18-34 range at 88,000, which was out-drawn by all of the events against it. However, this was up from 69,000 in the 18-34s for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix the week before.

NBC had Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding on prior to the Millrose, from Mammoth Mountain in California, drawing an average of 618,000 from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern. Interest in the 18-34 demographic was again quite weak, at 44,000.

The NFL Super Bowl on CBS, Univision and Nickelodeon from 6:30 p.m. Eastern set an all-time U.S. viewing record at 123.45 million, with 120.25 million on CBS alone.

Paris 2024: Macron intervenes to save booksellers along Seine

The picturesque second-hand book stalls along the Seine River will not be moved for the 26 July Olympic opening, with French President Emmanuel Macron ending the issue with a Tuesday statement that “has asked the interior minister and the Paris prefect’s office that all of the booksellers are preserved and that none of them are forced to move.”

Paris police had ordered most of the bookstalls along the Seine to be removed for security and access control purposes: initially 604 of the 932 “boxes” and then revised down to 428 boxes as a compromise.

In reply, the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris filed a court action on 19 January against the planned removals, with a test removal already completed to show that the boxes could be taken away. The Paris police said their plan was to restore them in place within a few days (and still during the Games).

Macron’s statement characterized the “bouquinistes” – who have been along the river for as many as 150 years – as a “living heritage of the capital.”

The Olympic opening was originally expected to have as many as 600,000 spectators, with 100,000 ticket buyers on the riverside, lower quays and up to 500,000 on the upper quays. The upper-quay capacity has been cut to 200,000 for a 300,000 total, all of whom will have tickets, with those for the upper quays distributed free by the authorities. That crowd will now have to be managed with the bookstalls staying in place.

Paris 2024: Balconies along the Seine the newest worry

The alarm has been sounded on overcrowding on apartment balconies with a view of the Olympic opening on the Seine River. Per Agence France Presse:

“The National Real Estate Federation (FNAIM) has alerted local authorities to the risk of collapses and accidents unless balconies that are often designed for two or three people are checked beforehand for their structural soundness.”

The state of the elegant apartment complexes which make Paris so beautiful could be an issue on 26 July, when the Olympic Games open, as two people were significantly injured in May 2023 when their fifth-floor balcony failed.

Olivier Princivalle, the FNAIM head in the Paris area, told AFP, “We need to be absolutely sure that the balconies can take the weight and that handrails are well sealed in to avoid any sort of incident.” Apartment balconies in private residences are not under the jurisdiction of any government authority, but the building owners are responsible for the safe upkeep of the structures, some of which are centuries old.

A technical brief from the French Board of Architects has been requested. There is little doubt that terraces and windows will be jammed on the day of the opening.

Francophone Games 2027 to Armenia (yes, Armenia)

Most people have never heard of the Jeux de la Francophonie, an event started in 1989 as a competition for athletes from French-speaking countries, somewhat in parallel to the English-themed Commonwealth Games that began in 1930.

It was held on a regular schedule through 2017, but funding issues caused Moncton and Dieppe in New Brunswick (CAN) to return the 2021 event in 2019, and it was subsequently awarded to Kinshasa (COD). But the 2021 date was moved to avoid a clash with the Tokyo Olympic Games and then moved again to 2023, where it was held from 28 July-6 August, amid some controversies, notably over organization and costs.

What, then, for 2027? The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) had been casting around for a host and, finally, on 8 February, voted by videoconference to award the 10th edition to Yerevan, Armenia. About 4,000 athletes will compete in seven sports and a wide cultural program.


It only joined the OIF in 2012 and has a little more than 10,000 French speakers among a population of 3.165 million. English is far more widely spoken in this former Soviet Republic, which became independent in 1991.

So how does it end up hosting the Jeux de la Francophonie?

Because it wants and the Armenian government will pay for it. The OIF was in no position to be picky, as Armenia was the only bidder.

Observed: While the Jeux de la Francophonie is not a high-profile event on the level of the Asian Games or Pan American Games, this episode underscores the difficulty in finding hosts for events of this type.

Putting the Francophone Games in Armenia is not terribly different from awarding the Commonwealth Games to Mexico. As of now, there is no host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games after Victoria pulled out in mid-2023, and the event may be delayed to 2027 or broken into pieces until a future host wants to bring it back together. None are on the horizon, although discussions about 2034 are being held in New Zealand.

Credit to the OIF for being flexible, but it now has to try to find a host for 2031 … who could step in to host 2027 if tensions between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan take a turn for the worse.

Anti-doping pioneer Dr. Don Catlin passes at 85

One of the pioneers in the U.S. anti-doping movement, Dr. Don Catlin, passed away at age 85 on 16 January 2024 in Los Angeles after suffering from dementia and ultimately a stroke.

Catlin was a key player in the development of the U.S. anti-doping movement, after serving in the U.S. Army at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and then coming to UCLA as an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology.

When Los Angeles was selected to host the 1984 Olympic Games, the anti-doping movement was in its infancy and Catlin was called on to assist in the creation of the Ziffren Olympic Analytical Laboratory at UCLA, the first such lab in the United States. Paid for by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, Catlin was in charge of the analytical testing of all of the Olympic doping samples during the 1984 Games.

The quality of the lab’s work was so high that Catlin was instantly in demand to assist other organizations in their anti-doping work, including the National Football League, the NCAA and various leagues in professional baseball.

The lab eventually separated from UCLA, with Catlin continuing as a Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and the Chief Science Officer of the private-sector Banned Substances Control Group, Inc.

In 2003, Catlin was asked to decipher an unknown substance from a used syringe provided to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency by a “high profile” track coach. It turned out to be a manufactured steroid called tetrahydrogestrinone (THG: “The Clear”) and the discovery eventually led to the BALCO scandal, named for the Bay Area lab that distributed the steroid to athletes that included Olympic sprint star Marion Jones and many others.

Said Travis Tygart, the head of the USADA, “He was the pioneer of anti-doping, and I think having someone with his stature and academic background with a lab at one of the finest universities of the world, UCLA, brought credibility to the scientific side” of the anti-doping effort.

While gregarious and inquisitive, Catlin had a no-nonsense approach to his anti-doping work, believing most importantly that lives could be saved if athletes would refrain from using these dangerous drugs.

Catlin was a long-time member of the IOC Medical Commission and retired from UCLA in 2007. He said in a National Public Radio interview of sports and doping, “You’ll never get all the drugs out of it. The rewards are too huge. [M]y hope is, and I think it’s not unrealistic, that you should be able to watch a track and field final and be satisfied that nobody is doping.”


● Aquatics ● The U.S. swept the men’s and women’s 100 m Backstroke titles on the third day of swimming at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (QAT).

Nineteen-year-old Claire Curzan got a big start in the women’s 100 m Back final and was never headed, winning in a lifetime best of 58.29 and moving to no. 10 on the all-time list and no. 4 among Americans. She moved up from the bronze in this race in 2022 to defeat Australian teen Iona Anderson (59.12) and Canada’s Ingrid Wilm (59.18). It’s Curzan’s seventh career Worlds medal (3-1-3) and she’ll be busy the rest of the week.

The men’s 100 Back final had 2022 and 2023 Worlds bronze winner Hunter Armstrong of the U.S. and he added to his medal collection with a gold to go with his 50 m Back win in 2023, and three relay golds. He had to pass Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez on the final lap to win by 52.68 to 52.70, with Greek Apostolos Christou third in 53.36. Fellow American Jack Aikins finished eighth in 54.60.

In the men’s 200 m Free final, Korea’s Sun-woo Hwang completed his move up the podium from silver in 2022 to third in 2023 and now to gold in 1:44.75, just ahead of two-time European champ Danas Rapsys (LTU: 1:45.05) and American Luke Hobson (1:45.26), who won his first Worlds individual medal. It was the first U.S. medal in this event at the Worlds since 2017.

With U.S. distance superstar – and five-time winner – Katie Ledecky skipping the meet, Italy’s Simona Quadarella returned to the top of the podium in the women’s 1,500 m Free. She had won in 2019 in Gwangju when Ledecky was ill and won the 2017 bronze and 2023 silver in this event, and now a second gold in 15:46.99. That was almost 10 seconds up on Bingjie Li (CHN: 15:56.62), with Isabel Gose (GER: 15:57.55) third.

In the women’s 100 m Breaststroke final, China’s 19-year-old Qianting Tan followed up her 2021 World short-course gold with the Worlds 50 m gold in 1:05.27, ahead of fast-closing Tes Schouten (NED: 1:05.82) and Hong Kong star Siobhan Haughey (1:05.92). Haughey swam this race just minutes after her 200 m Free semi, taking her first Worlds medal outside of the freestyle stroke.

The U.S. double by Curzan and Armstrong isn’t new, as it’s been done four times before in the 100 m Back, by Bob Jackson and Linda Jezek in 1978, by Lenny Krayzelburg and Lea Maurer in 1998, by Aaron Peirsol and Natalie Coughlin in 2007 and Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin in 2013.

The men’s 800 m Free, 50 m Breast and 200 m Butterfly come on Wednesday, along with the women’s 200 m Free and the Mixed 4×100 m Medley relay.

In the men’s water polo quarters, Spain edged Montenegro, 15-12, and will meet Italy, an 11-10 winner over Greece. Croatia won another tight match with Serbia, 15-13, and France got by Hungary, 11-10, to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

● Biathlon ● The IBU World Championships continued in Nove Mesto (CZE), with Italian star Lisa Vittozzi breaking up the French parade in the women’s events with her first career Worlds individual-event gold in the 15 km Individual race.

She shot clean in all four stops and won in a runaway in 40:02.9 to 40:23.4 (0 penalties) for Germany’s Janina Hettich-Walz, with France’s Julia Simon – who had won the Sprint and Pursuit – third in 40:32.5 (1). American Deedra Irwin was a very creditable 11th in 42:57.3 (1).

Vittozzi, 29, now owns 10 Worlds medals from 2015 on (2-4-4) and got her second gold, after a relay win in 2023. The men’s 20 km Individual race comes on Wednesday.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed during a Tuesday briefing that the International Olympic Committee will be responsible for deciding if and which Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete as neutrals at the Paris 2024 Games:

“The IOC allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the 2024 Games under a neutral flag. France respects the autonomy of the sports community and takes note of the committee’s decision. …

“It is up to the national federations and the IOC to identify athletes who comply with the criteria of neutrality and, accordingly, can participate in the Games. France will ensure that these criteria are strictly observed before and during the Olympics.”

● Olympic Games 2028: Los Angeles ● The Secretary General of the Russian Olympic Committee, Rodion Plitukhin, told reporters at a Moscow sports forum on Tuesday that the organization is looking ahead to the 2028 Los Angeles Games:

“Both podiums and home Olympic Games, the biggest sporting events, are still ahead of us.

“The state of affairs in the Olympic movement allows us to set a goal for the Russian Olympic team to participate with the flag and anthem at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Our sworn friends [the U.S.] can’t afford to just win their home Games without competing with the strongest, they won’t forgive themselves.”

Observed: Plitukhin might want to consult the history books; the U.S. team at the 1984 Los Angeles Games had no trouble winning with joy in the absence of the USSR and the other countries that boycotted.

● World Anti-Doping Agency ● The continuing prosecution of cases of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program from 2011-15 has yielded 241 sanctions so far. In a statement to the Russian news agency TASS, WADA noted:

“WADA’s ‘Operation LIMS’ investigation has been a significant success with 241 sanctions having been imposed to date by 18 Anti-Doping Organizations. An additional 41 cases have been charged with another 119 remaining under investigation. A number of further cases were investigated and were closed due to a lack of available evidence.”

WADA finally was able to retrieve the “LIMS” data from the Moscow Laboratory at the center of the doping scandal in Russia in early 2019 and has been distributing the evidence to the interested international federations, as well as pursuing cases on its own motion.

WADA has referred two non-compliance cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, for Nigeria and Venezuela, with both having multiple “critical requirements” of their anti-doping programs. Both have disputed the WADA finding and the matter will now head to arbitration.

The penalties for being non-compliant can include the prohibition of their flag being used at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

● Russia ● Russian Olympic 97 kg Freestyle wrestling gold medalist Abdulrashid Sadulaev will compete as a “neutral” at the European Championships in Bucharest (ROU), after not having received a visa to enter Romania as of the end of last week.

However, six other Russians had not received visas yet and were still in limbo.

● Athletics ● Two heavy doping sentences, for Kenyan marathoner Sarah Chepchirchir and Indian women’s hammer thrower Kumari Rachna.

Chepchirchir, 39, the 2017 Tokyo Marathon women’s winner (2:19:47) received an eight-year ban for use of Testosterone discovered from a test at the Chonburi Marathon in Thailand on 5 November 2023. She did not respond to the doping charge and as this was her second doping violation – she had just completed a 2019-23 suspension – was banned for eight years through 21 December 2031.

Rachna was banned for the use of multiple steroids in out-of-competition tests in September 2023 and an in-competition test in November 2023. She had been banned for four years from 2015-19 and failed to respond to any inquiries about her 2023 doping positives, leading the Athletics Integrity Unit to impose a 12-year ban to 23 November 2035!

● Shooting ● The final event of the ISSF World Cup in Shotgun was the Mixed Team in Skeet, with the all-star American pair of three-time Olympic champs Vincent Hancock and Kim Rhode equaling the world record of 149/150 to lead the qualifying.

In the final, they cruised to the gold by 45-40 over Yaroslav Startsev and Elizaveta Boiarshinova of Georgia. Said Hancock:

“We tied the world record in qualification. My goal here today was just come out and implement what I learned over the last couple of days.

“All of this competition is practice, everything is a stepping stone leading to the Olympics, and trying to get back to the place where we all dream to go.

So I’m thankful and grateful for two medals here. But now it’s home, practice and making the Olympic team hopefully next month. That’s the next competition. That’s where my focus is.”

● Weightlifting ● The USA Weightlifting squad is competing as guest competitors at the 2024 European Championships in Sofia (BUL), skipping the Pan American Championships in Caracas (VEN) due to safety concerns, and teen sensation Hampton Morris is making the most of it.

U.S. performances will count toward Olympic qualifying and 19-year-old Morris had a career day on Tuesday in the men’s 61 kg class, “winning” the class at 297 kg, although he will not get a medal as a guest.

The event was officially won by home favorite Gabriel Marinov (BUL) at 281 kg. Morris lifted 126 kg in the Snatch – equal to second in the official competition – and did 171 kg in the Clean & Jerk, the best of the day, as was his 297 kg total.

Along the way, he set eight American Records in his six lifts, including senior-level marks in his weight class for Snatch, Clean & Jerk and total. He now ranks seventh in the Olympic qualifying ranking with one more competition to go in April.

● Wrestling ● United World Wrestling lifted sanctions against the Wrestling Federation of India, imposed last year in view of actions taken against wrestlers protesting abuse by the former federation president.

The UWW Disciplinary Chamber ended the suspension with the condition that Athletes’ Commission elections be held with no discrimination against those who protested, and not later than 1 July.

The WFI, for its part, now intends to resume its role as the national federation for the sport in India.

You can receive our exclusive TSX Report by e-mail by clicking here. You can also refer a friend by clicking here, and can donate here to keep this site going.

For our new, 920-event International Sports Calendar for 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!

Exit mobile version