TSX REPORT: The IAAF chose Doha during the Lamine Diack regime; his last laugh? Plus, Kendricks, Brazier and Lyles win spectacular golds for U.S. at IAAF Worlds

Former IAAF President and IOC member Lamine Diack of Senegal (Photo: Wikipedia)

= TSX REPORT~ 2 October 2019 =

[Due to a scheduling conflict, there will be
no e-mail for this Thursday, 3 October]

| 1. |  LANE ONE: Are the IAAF World Championships in Doha the last laugh for Lamine Diack?

The ongoing IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar have already seen many thrilling events, but are also the scene of too many empty seats at the Khalifa International Stadium.

At normal capacity, the facility seats about 48,000, but banners and infrastructure requirements have covered more than half of that; the BBC reported seating for the World Championships of just 21,000, the smallest ever.

There were only 13,288 on hand for the first session on Friday, 27 September and the numbers went down for the next two days on Saturday (~11,200) and Sunday (~8,000). Athletes and news media have noticed … and complained.

The senior management of the IAAF, President Sebastian Coe and Chief Executive Jon Ridgeon – both British – have expressed disappointment and Ridgeon has correctly pointed out that the blockade of Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has shut out potential spectators from throughout the Gulf region. The original Doha marketing plan counted on drawing fans from the surrounding region.

Nowhere has the name Lamine Diack (pictured above) been attached to the issues in Doha.

But the former Senegalese long jumper, who became IAAF President in 1999 and later a member of the International Olympic Committee, was in charge when Doha was selected over Barcelona, Spain and Eugene, Oregon in the U.S. in 2014. He’s now under house arrest in France, awaiting a trial sometime later this year on extortion, fraud and money-laundering charges relating to his activities in the IAAF and the IOC.

The selection of Doha is one of the actions which has been scrutinized by the French prosecutors; perhaps we will learn more at his trial. But as Diack watches the action on the track – and the empty stands – on television, is he chuckling at all the chaos?

Underlying the disappointment of the empty stands in Doha, however, is a new tug-of-war between two concepts which up to now did not seem at odds: the voice of the athlete and the idea that major events such as the IAAF Worlds should be held in new venues to make the sports more “universal.”

Gymnastics survived modest attendance at its 2018 World Artistic Championships in Doha; FIFA has found itself in the middle of a mess in Qatar with charges of mistreatment of workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, and FINA will hold its 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, and is perhaps wondering what it has gotten itself into.

Multiple athletes have made their negative views of Doha known, especially in the British press, but the event marches on and will finish on Sunday. It’s worth wondering how federations and the International Olympic Committee will deal with the issue of “universality” against the desires of the top stars to perform before a full house that can give them the energy they need to create once-in-a-lifetime achievements on the field of play. More here.

| 2. | ATHLETICS: Last-jump loss, last-throw win and a new American 800 m record in Doha

Day five of the IAAF World Championships saw three gold medals in four events for the U.S., starting with a gripping pole vault battle and finishing with history in the men’s 800 m and 200 m.

The vault figured to be a showdown between defending champion Sam Kendricks (pictured) of the U.S. and Louisiana-born Mondo Duplantis, who competes for Sweden in honor of his mother, with an outside shot given to Poland’s Piotr Lisek.

That’s exactly who was left when the bar was raised to 5.87 m (19-3 1/4) and that’s when the drama started. Lisek and Duplantis cleared, but Kendricks had to make a third try to stay in. At 5.92 m (19-5 1/4), Duplantis had to make a third try to prevent elimination. No one could clear 5.97 m (19-7) over two tries and Lisek was done; Duplantis made it on his third try and then Kendricks had to clear – and did – to keep going. The bar was raised to 6.02 m (19-9) and when Duplantis missed his third try, Kendricks had a second Worlds gold on fewer misses.


The men’s 800 m showed the maturity of 22-year-old American Donavan Brazier. Formerly a determined front-runner, he has learned how to run off of any pace and when Puerto Rico’s Wesley Vazquez ran the first lap just under 49 seconds, Brazier was just behind, running comfortably.

But with 300 m to go, Brazier took the lead and just ran away. As Vazquez began to fade in the home straightaway, Brazier continued on smoothly and finished untouched in 1:42.34, a new World Championships record and a new American Record, finally surpassing the 1985 mark of 1:42.60 by Johnny Gray. There is much more ahead for Brazier.

American sprint star Noah Lyles was the overwhelming favorite in the men’s 200 m, but in his first Worlds, was the stage too big? He answered with a good start and a speedy turn, coming into the straightaway just behind super-starter Adam Gemili (GBR). Once Lyles’ top-end speed kicked in, he moved away smartly and finished with a convincing win in 19.83, ahead of Canada’s Andre De Grasse (19.95) and Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez (19.98).

It was the first U.S. title in the men’s 200 m since before the Usain Bolt era, back in 2007.

Almost lost in all this commotion was a final-round drama in the women’s javelin. Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber – a definite medal threat – was sitting in fourth place in the sixth round, but unloaded a high-arcing throw that landed at 66.56 m (218-4) and won the event, over China’s Shiying Liu, who had thrown a season-best 65.88 m (216-2).  Wow! Much more here.

| 3. | ATHLETICS: Another controversy, this time over “Block Cam”

The IAAF and Seiko had trumpeted the debut of “Block Cam” for the World Championships, in which cameras were installed in the starting blocks so as to capture the concentration on the faces of the runners as they prepared to start in the sprint events.

But the cameras were apparently too intrusive for German sprinters Gina Luckenkemper and Tatjana Pinto, who complained that the pictures also included them standing over their blocks.

“I find it very unpleasant stepping over these cameras as I get into the blocks wearing these scanty clothes,” Lückenkemper said in a BBC report. She and Pinto complained to the German federation, which then complained to the IAAF.

The resolution was an agreement that “the big-screen close-ups will only show the athletes crouching in their blocks, moments before sprinting off.

“The video data from the cameras will also be erased daily, under the agreement.”

The Block Cam is an interesting idea, but as with most advances in technology, can have unintended consequences.

| 4. | ATHLETICS: Salazar slams suspension, decision and promises appeal

After a four-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for aiding and abetting doping was upheld by a three-arbitrator panel on Monday, Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar released a statement posted on the group’s Web site. It reads, in part:

“I am shocked by the outcome today. Throughout this six-year investigation my athletes and I have endured unjust, unethical and highly damaging treatment from USADA. This is demonstrated by the misleading statement released by [USADA CEO] Travis Tygart stating that we put winning ahead of athlete safety. This is completely false and contrary to the findings of the arbitrators, who even wrote about the care I took in complying with the World Anti-Doping code … 

“I have always ensured the WADA code is strictly followed.  The Oregon Project has never and will never permit doping.  I will appeal and look forward to this unfair and protracted process reaching the conclusion I know to be true.”

The appeal will be made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

| 5. | ATHLETICS: €70,000 for Bekele for winning in Berlin Marathon in 2:01:41

The sensational 2:01:41 Berlin Marathon win for Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele (pictured) also had some side benefits, to the tune of € 70,000 (about $76,559 U.S.). He won €40,000 for the victory and then a time bonus for running under 2:03:30. Runner-up Berhanu Legesse (ETH) finished in 2:02:48 and won €20,000 for finishing second and another €15,000 – €35,000 total (~$38,266) for running under 2:04:30.

The race had an amazing 46,983 runners and 52,293 participants including the inline skaters, hand-bikers and wheelchair racers.

Women’s winner Ashete Bekere (ETH) clocked 2:20:14, worth the €40,000 for winning, but she didn’t collect any time bonuses.

The elite prize money for the top 10 places includes €40,000-20,000-15,000-12,000-10,000-7,500-5,000-4,000-3,000-2,000 for both men and women.

| 6. | WINTER WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES 2023: Lakes Placid using the event for redevelopment

The question of whether to bid for or host a Games of any kind is very much about the goals of the bidders/organizers and whether the local community and/or government will support them.

For Lake Placid, New York, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, obtaining the 2023 Winter World University Games is part of a defined redevelopment strategy:

“The regional economic group for the whole area was looking at appropriate ways to revitalize economic development in the area and right away, they zeroed in on the 1980 Olympic
facilities that needed an upgrade,” said Adirondack North Country Sports Council chair James McKenna.

“To entice more private investment, the plan was to look at multi-sport international sporting events and refurbish the Olympic facilities at the same time. The one we were looking at, as the anchor, was the World University Games.”

“One of our objectives is to provide community housing,” said Sports Council Project Director Ashley Walden. “Right now, the town of Lake Placid is really a tourist travel town, so it can be difficult for communities and local families to afford housing. What we are going to accomplish with the Athletes Village and Media Village is that we are going to be able to, in the end, offer housing to local families so they stay on in the area.”

This is what legacy planning looks like, well before a bid is even submitted. Whether the Winter WUG can deliver this is another matter, but the thinking is worth noting.

| 7. | INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Executive Board meets on Wednesday and Thursday

The IOC Executive Board will meet in Lausanne over the following two days in Lausanne. The program includes the usual reports, with an update on the AIBA situation on the agenda. Thursday’s agenda includes an update on the Future Games Elections project.

News conferences will be given daily; check here for details.