TSX REPORT: Semenya appeals in Euro Court of Human Rights; 2014 Boston Marathon winner Deba gifted $75,000 prize! New low for Russia?

On to Paris: National Time trial champs Taylor Knibb and Brandon McNulty! (Photo: USA Cycling)

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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡

1. Semenya case reappears at Euro Court of Human Rights
2. Deba gifted $75,000 ten years after 2014 Boston Marathon win!
3. Another new low? Russia called IOC’s Bach “criminal”
4. WADA confirms Tunisia now compliant
5. FIFA Council OKs Women’s Club World Cup 2026

● The Caster Semenya case was heard once again, this time before a 17-member Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France. After losses against the World Athletics rules for women with “differences in sex development” at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federal Tribunal, she got a 4-3 decision from the ECHR for a deeper review, which was appealed by the Swiss to the larger panel. A decision is not expected for several months.

● After the winner of the women’s division of the 2014 Boston Marathon was disqualified for doping, winner Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia never received her $75,000 winner’s prize money, or the $25,000 course-record bonus. After a story in the Wall Street Journal, a Philadelphia businessman sent Deba the $75,000 prize and will pay the rest of the race does not!

● The Russian Foreign Ministry is on the warpath with the International Olympic Committee once again, calling the IOC’s plan to look over athlete social-media posts to check on their neutrality vis-a-vis the Ukraine invasion as “criminal.” Perhaps a new low?

● The World Anti-Doping Agency announced that Tunisia has been deemed compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, following the country’s inclusion of the Code in its legal system. No word from Tunisia about a release of the head of the national anti-doping agency, arrested after following WADA sanctions. A statement was posted from the WADA Athlete Council about the Chinese doping positives in January 2021, which raises as many questions as it gives answers.

● The FIFA Council announced a new women’s Club World Cup for 2026 and smaller tournaments in other years, and confirmed Swede Mattias Grafstrom as the FIFA Secretary General.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (garbage collector’s strike averted for Games) = Athletics (world leaders for Fabbi and Furlani in Savona) = Boxing (World Boxing gets Nike-linked sponsorship) = Cycling (2: Knibb qualifies for Paris in cycling in addition to triathlon; Milan wins second Giro stage) = Figure Skating (Australia’s Kerry banned by U.S. SafeSport) = Swimming (Ledecky and Finke take 1,500s at Atlanta Classic) = Table Tennis (China’s Wang and Chen dominate at Saudi Smash) ●

1.
Semenya case reappears at Euro Court of Human Rights

The latest chapter in the case of South African double women’s Olympic 800 m winner Caster Semenya came on Wednesday, as she appeared as part of a hearing before a Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

The specific case in front of the ECHR Grand Chamber of 17 judges does not directly concern the World Athletics regulations for athletes with “Differences in Sex Development,” in Semenya’s case, an extraordinarily high, natural testosterone level in comparison to other women.

At issue now is the procedure in her case. In 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport held that the World Athletics regulations were discriminatory, but “reasonable and proportionate” and allowed them to stand in order to protect the women’s competition category.

Semenya, now 33, appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which has very limited grounds to review CAS cases, and the case was dismissed in 2020. She then took her case to the European Court of Human Rights, demanding that she receive a more thorough review from the Swiss Federal Tribunal and protesting its limited right of review. In effect, she was asking for the Swiss Federal Tribunal to act as a full appellate court for the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In July 2023, the ECHR panel voted by 4-3, to uphold part of her complaint, especially “that the applicant had not been afforded sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards in Switzerland.”

This was appealed by the Swiss – who do not want to see their court workload expanded with a long line of Court of Arbitration for Sport cases – and asked for a hearing before a much larger Grand Chamber. This was granted in November.

Multiple outside groups have been allowed to file briefs in the current case, including World Athletics, the British government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a hearing was held Wednesday.

If successful, no regulations would be changed in Semenya’s case, but her case would be sent back to the Swiss Federal Tribunal for a more thorough re-examination. It would have the authority to change or modify the holding at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and could send it back for s re-hearing. If the holding is for Switzerland, Semenya’s legal channels would appear to be closed.

Semenya said after the hearing:

“The outcome of this case is very important. You need to pave out a way for young women so they cannot face the injustice, the scrutiny of being judged, being dehumanized and being discriminated.

“I don’t think this is about my career. It is about me being an advocate for what is right, to voice out for those who cannot fight for themselves.”

No decision is expected for several months.

2.
Deba gifted $75,000 ten years after 2014 Boston Marathon win!

Kenyan marathon star Rita Jeptoo won the 2014 Boston Marathon in a course-record 2:18:57, with New York-based Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba finishing second in 2:19:59, also under the old course mark.

Jeptoo was later disqualified for doping, which elevated Deba as the winner and she holds the course record to today.

What she did not get was the $75,000 first prize that was given to Jeptoo, nor the $25,000 bonus for the course record. The Boston Athletic Association, which owns and operates the race, has never been able to get the money back from Jeptoo.

Deba last competed in a major marathon in 2020 and still lives in New York, and her situation was detailed in a 12 April story by Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal. And then, everything changed.

Seeing that story was Doug Guyer, the co-founder of Brandshare US, one of the first e-commerce media networks – founded in 1984 and sold to private equity investors in 2015 – and a 1983 Boston College graduate.

He decided to do something about Deba’s plight, and a Monday (13th) follow-up WSJ story reported that Guyer sent Deba the $75,000 winner’s prize personally, and will consider paying the remaining $25,000 himself if the B.A.A. does not.

WBZ-TV Boston asked the B.A.A. for comment and it replied, in pertinent part:

“The B.A.A is still pursuing Ms. Jeptoo to recover the prize money for Ms. Deba, which the B.A.A. believes would be a just and fair result for her and all runners who follow the rules.”

Deba, now 36, said she would use the money for her family and could return to competition:

“For us, it’s a miracle. It’s life-changing, big money. We were waiting so long.”

The 2024 Boston Marathon had an open-division prize purse – for men and women – of $806,000, and a $50,000 race-record bonus.

Jeptoo, 43, was banned for four years from October 2014 to October 2018, and was apparently out of competition until 2022, when she ran in three marathons. She has competed sparingly in 2023 and 2024 and finished third in the Semi-Marathon du Grand Nancy in France on 17 March. Maybe she won some prize money there she could send to Deba?

3.
Another new low? Russia called IOC’s Bach “criminal”

In March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova ripped into the IOC’s conditions for Paris participation by Russian “neutrals” and its criticism of September’s World Friendship Games, telling reporters:

“Absolutely unacceptable, not just politicized, but indeed standing on a par with decisions supported by racial discrimination, is the statement of the International Olympic Committee, which directly called on athletes and states to refuse to participate in the international competition World Friendship Games.

“These decisions demonstrate how far the International Olympic Committee has departed from its stated principles in favor of political expediency and slipped into racism and neo-Nazism.”

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams (GBR) replied:

“We’ve seen some very aggressive statements coming out of Russia today, but there is one comment even which is going beyond that and we’ve even seen amongst one of two ones that link the president, his nationality and the Holocaust, and this is completely unacceptable and reaches a new low.”

Maybe there’s a new, new low.

On Wednesday, Zakharova was at it again, responding to last week’s Instagram post from the anti-government, activist Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation that it and a group of Ukrainian athletes would be scouring social media sites and providing information to the IOC’s “Individual Neutral Athlete Eligibility Review Panel” announced in March:

“This joint project focuses on the verification of Belarusian and Russian athletes planning to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games.

“The aim is to ensure these athletes do not have ties to military or paramilitary structures, aligning with the International Olympic Committee’s recommendations on athlete neutrality.

“Through the collection and analysis of information from open sources, both pre and post-Olympics, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and neutrality in sports.”

IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) is not a member of the Individual Neutral Athlete Eligibility Review Panel, but that did not stop Zakharova from another furious tirade on Wednesday, about the use of social-media comments made by Russian athletes as a reason not to allow them to compete in Paris as “neutrals”:

“We would have previously labeled this as the height of dishonesty, but in actuality it is a criminal statement.

“This reasoning goes not just against, but in direct opposition to all documents that regulate the work of Thomas Bach.

“We are convinced that by resorting to such unscrupulous, illegal, unlawful and immoral steps the IOC leadership is discrediting itself, undermining the Olympic Charter and creating chaos in the world of global sports.”

A new low? Could be.

4.
WADA confirms Tunisia now compliant

As had been expected, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that the 2 May 2024 changes to Tunisian law appropriately incorporated the World Anti-Doping Code and confirmed that the country is compliant.

The Tunisian Ministry of Youth and Sports had projected this outcome after the legislation had passed, but when the Tunisian flag was covered – as required by WADA’s sanctions at the time – at last week’s 20-nation, Tunisian Open Masters swimming meet, it created a crisis in which the Tunisian President Kais Saied came to the pool in Rades and had the flag raised.

He then set in motion the arrest of the head of the Tunisian swimming federation, the head of the Tunisian anti-doping agency and seven other officials, with charges including including “attack on the flag of Tunisia,” “formation of an organised group to commit attacks and cause disorder,” and a “plot against the internal security.” Two have been detained with the other seven freed ahead of a trial.

On Tuesday, WADA issued its own comment:

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has expressed its deep concern following the arrest of the Director General of the National Anti-Doping Organization of Tunisia (ANAD) and dismissal from his role for simply trying to abide by the consequences of ANAD’s non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code).”

No announcement has been made about the situation of the Tunisian officials who were arrested.

The WADA Athlete Council issued a statement on the 2021 Chinese swimming doping positives,

“We acknowledge that the athlete community may feel frustrated by what they are reading and hearing, which could lead to uncertainty about the case and the entire anti-doping framework. As members of the AC, we understand these sentiments, especially for those who have personally experienced the impact of cheating in their sports.

“At the same time, we are concerned by the fact that athletes’ personal information, including their names and photos, have been leaked to the media. This is a serious breach of athletes’ rights, including of minors, which simply cannot be tolerated. As such, we have asked WADA to investigate what led to this information being leaked to the media and whether any adjustments to rules, processes or procedures should be made to limit this risk in the future, while maintaining protection of whistleblowers. …

“We firmly believe that athletes who dope, which has not been asserted here, must be appropriately sanctioned and that the global anti-doping system must be robust. We equally believe that the presumption of innocence and the right to fair and due process, regardless of an athlete’s sport or country, must be at the core of the antidoping system.”

Observed: This is a troubling statement, especially the phrase “athletes who dope, which has not been asserted here …” In fact, there were 28 positive tests across 23 athletes for the banned substance trimetazidine. Under normal procedures, this would have resulted in immediate suspensions. None were imposed.

Further, the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency waived off the positives, saying that the source of the drug was a hotel kitchen where meals were prepared for the athletes. WADA took CHINADA’s word for it and did not do its own investigation; admittedly, this would have been nearly impossible in China, an authoritarian state.

However, the German ARD report “The China Files” stated that the CHINADA report was in fact compiled by China’s Ministry of Public Security, not the anti-doping agency itself. This raises serious questions about the report and its timing, released months later.

These questions need to be answered, and then WADA’s reaction can be judged. The WADA Athlete Council only injures its own credibility in stating that doping in this case “has not been asserted here” in the face of 28 acknowledged doping positives.

5.
FIFA Council OKs Women’s Club World Cup 2026

In advance of the FIFA Congress which will elect the host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for 2027, the FIFA Council on Wednesday approved the promised creation of a FIFA Women’s Club World Cup for January and February 2026, with 16 teams.

The event will be held every four years, with an additional tournament in the other three years beginning in 2027. No format was announced.

The Council also confirmed Mattias Grafstrom (SWE) as the FIFA Secretary General.

Friday’s 2027 Women’s World Cup vote was confirmed between Brazil and the joint Belgium-Netherlands-Germany bid, and the “global stand against racism in football” declaration was also approved for presentation to the Congress.

≡ PANORAMA ≡

● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● A threatened garbage-collector’s strike during the Games has been averted as the Paris City Hall announced a deal on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported a city statement that “An increase in the allowance system has been approved: 50 euros ($54) gross per month from July 2024, then 30 euros ($32.5) gross per month from January 2025.”

In addition, bonus payments for workers engaged during the Games period “remains between 600 euros ($650) and 1,900 euros ($2,060), depending on the degree of intensification of the workload during the preparation, organization and/or participation in the staging.”

● Athletics ● More world-leading action, this time in Savona (ITA) at the 13th Citta Di Savona meet on Wednesday, with Italian shot putter Leonardo Fabbri getting a national record and world lead at 22.95 m (75-3 1/2).

Fabbri, the 2022 Worlds runner-up, surpassed the 1987 national mark of 22.91 m (75-2) by Alessandro Andrei, the last of three world records he achieved on 12 August 1987 in Viareggio. Fabbri moved up to no. 5 on the all-time list and no. 2 in European history.

Equaling the world lead in the men’s long jump was Italian Mattia Furlani, 19, the 2024 World Indoor runner-up, who won at 8.36 m (27-5 1/4) to match Olympic champ Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece. It’s also a World U-20 (World Junior) record for Furlani, eclipsing the 8.35 m (27-4 3/4) by Sergey Morgunov (RUS) from 2012.

● Boxing ● The World Boxing group trying to become the International Federation for Olympic boxing announced its second commercial sponsorship, with Nike licensee Athlete Performance Solutions, to supply Nike Boxing sporting apparel and footwear for officials and “co-branded apparel and products for sale to consumers.”

It’s the second sponsorship for World Boxing, as Sting joined in 2023 to provide “gloves, protective clothing, handwraps and training equipment.”

● Cycling ● Taylor Knibb was already on the plane for Paris in the women’s triathlon when she lined up for Wednesday’s USA Cycling national Time Trial championship in Charleston, West Virginia.

Less than 42 minutes later, she is now going to be competing in cycling as well as triathlon as she won the 33.7 km Time Trial in 41:54.69, ahead of Kristen Faulkner (42:05.88) and two-time World Champion Amber Neben – now 49 – in 42:44.53. Said Knibb, 26:

“I’m in shock. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m just in shock. Last year was hard for the TT [Nationals]. And there are so many incredible riders out here, it was such an incredible day riding with them.”

Looking ahead to the Paris schedule, the women’s Time Trial is on 27 July, the first full day of competition, and the women’s triathlon will be on 31 July.

Brandon McNulty won the men’s race and is off to Paris, winning in 37:42.08, ahead of Tyler Stites (38.40.22) and Neilson Powless (38:44.17). McNulty heads to his second Olympics, after finishing sixth in the Road Race in Tokyo in 2021.

No change at the 107th Giro d’Italia, with a sprinter’s stage on Wednesday that went to home favorite Jonathan Milan, for his second stage win this year.

Stage 11’s 207 km ride to Francalla al Mare was flat for the last half and Milan won the mass sprint to the line over Kaden Groves (AUS) and Giovanni Lonardi (ITA), for his third career Giro stage victory.

Race leader Tadej Pogacar (SLO) was 27th, as the first 89 riders all received the same time. He continues with a 2:40 advantage on Daniel Martinez (COL), with a hilly but not dramatic stage on Thursday, a flat sprint stage on Friday and the second Individual Time Trial on Saturday.

● Figure Skating ● The U.S. Center for SafeSport listed three-time Australian Olympian Brendan Kerry as permanently ineligible as of Tuesday for “Sexual Misconduct – involving a minor.” The holding was shown as subject to appeal.

Now 29, Kerry competed at the 2014-18-22 Winter Olympic Games in the men’s Singles and stopped competing after the 2022 season.

He was the subject of reports for misconduct by American skating star Gracie Gold in 2016, and by an unnamed, minor skater. Reuters reported that Kerry was a registered coach with U.S. Figure Skating during the 2016-17 season.

Ice Skating Australia said in a statement, “We are in the process gathering and considering all information available in relation to the determination by the US Centre for SafeSport.”

● Swimming ● We’re getting closer to the U.S. Olympic Trials – presented by Eli Lilly & Co. – in Indianapolis in a month and Olympic champs Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke are showing their fitness at the Speedo Atlanta Classic.

On Wednesday, they won the women’s and men’s 1,500 m Freestyles, with Ledecky taking charge from the start and finishing with a world-leading 15:38.25, improving on her 15:38.81 in January in Knoxville. It’s the no. 17 performance in history and she has the top 18 and 24 of the top 26. Open-water ace Ashley Twichell was second in 16:22.69.

Finke won the men’s 1,500 m in 14:58.08, moving to no. 14 on the world list, from no. 24, also from January in Knoxville. He won by almost 44 seconds and reportedly has never swum this fast this early in the year, a good sign.

The meet continues through Saturday.

● Table Tennis ● The $2 million Saudi Smash tournament in Jeddah concluded with a Chinese sweep of all five titles, with the 2023 Worlds individual silver medalists playing roles in all five wins!

No. 1-ranked Chuqin Wang, 24, won his biggest tournament title so far in the men’s final, edging German Patrick Franziska, four sets to two: 11-2, 11-7, 11-5, 8-11, 10-12, 11-6, moving up from his second-place finish at the 2023 World Championships.

Meng Chen, ranked fourth coming in, won the all-China final from top-ranked Yingsha Sun, also by four to two: 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8. Chen had been second, third and second in the last three Worlds; this time, she ended on top of the podium.

Wang got a second win with two-time Olympic champ Long Ma in the men’s Doubles, defeating Japan’s Hiroto Shinozuka and Shinsuke Togami, 11-6, 11-5 and 11-9, and then got a third gold in the Mixed Doubles! He teamed with Sun to cruise past Hong Kong’s Chun Ting Wong and Hoi Kem Doo, 11-6, 11-6 and 11-6.

Chen got a second gold in the women’s Doubles, as she and Manyu Wang swept second-seeded Jihee Jeon and Yubin Shin (KOR), 11-6, 11-6, 12-10.

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