TSX REPORT: Tunisia arrests swim, anti-doping heads on WADA sanction; Poistogova appeals 2012 doping penalty, 73% of Olympians are one-timers

The Paris 2024 Olympic torch relay in Arles on Sunday: full of joy, but also under threat (Photo: Paris 2024, by Clement Manhoudeau-Sipa Press)

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1. Tunisia arrests swim and anti-doping heads over flag cover
2. Ex-Russian Poistogova appeals London 2012 medal DQ
3. Bednarek a happy road warrior after Doha world lead
4. More T&F world leads and a new, teen 800 m star
5. Mallon: 73.3% of all Olympians appear in one Games only

● The head of the Tunisian swimming federation and the country’s national anti-doping agency were arrested, along with seven others for following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Tunisia at a meet last week. The youth and sports ministry dissolved the swimming federation’s board and appointed an interim body. This is a problem.

● Former Russian Ekaterina Poistogova won the bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic women’s 800 m, was raised to silver after the Russian winner was disqualified for doping, and then she was disqualified for doping in April. She has decided to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, delaying any re-allocation of the medals to Kenya’s Pam Jelimo and American Alysia Montano.

● U.S. 200 m star Kenny Bednarek was a happy guy after taking the world lead with a lifetime best of 19.67 at the Doha Diamond League meet. But he said that time doesn’t matter at this stage. Slovenian giant Kristian Ceh won the discus at 231-3, but said he wasn’t in shape!

● More track & field world leads to report, in the women’s shot and javelin, and in the men’s 4×400 m, where an all-American quartet from Arkansas had to win 2:59.03 to beat Alabama (2:59.06!) to win the Southeastern Conference men’s title! And remember this name: Phoebe Gill, Britain’s new teen 800 m star!

● Olympic stat star Dr. Bill Mallon posted a fascinating list of Olympians – summer only – by number of Games they participate in. Just more than 73% of them have appeared in one Games only, and one has appeared in 10.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (23 reported attempts to disrupt Olympic torch in first week) = Asian Games 2026 (no village, but a cruise ship in Nagoya!) = Modern Pentathlon (Egypt takes Mixed Relay to end Sofia World Cup) ●

Tunisia arrests swim and anti-doping heads over flag cover

On 30 April, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that the national anti-doping agency of Tunisia – “ANAD” – was non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code as “the result of its failure to fully implement the 2021 version of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) within its legal system.”

This means, among other sanctions, “Tunisia’s flag will not be flown at regional, continental or world championships, as well as other events organized by Major Event Organizations (including the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) until the ANAD is reinstated.”

On Friday, 10 May, the Tunisian flag was covered by the national swimming federation during the Tunisian Open Masters championship in Rades attended by swimmers from 20 countries – sending the country’s president, Kais Saied, into a fury. A video from Saied’s office showed him at the pool on the same day, raising the flag and singing the national anthem.

Further, Saied said in a cabinet meeting that covering the flag was an “act of aggression” and that “Tunisia comes before the Olympic Committee and before any other committees,” and demanded “immediate measures… against those responsible for the incident of hiding the national flag.”

On Monday, the state prosecutor’s office confirmed that the head of the Tunisian swimming federation, the head of the national anti-doping office and seven others have been arrested, with charges under seven sections of the penal code 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.

Further, the Tunisian youth and sports ministry dissolved the board of the swimming federation and appointed an interim board instead.

A ministry spokesman said prior to the meet that WADA’s requested changes to Tunisian law ha been made by 2 May and that the national anti-doping agency would be compliant again and that WADA’s sanctions would be lifted within 15 days.

Observed: This is a bad situation all around, especially in a country where, the Associated Press reported, Saied “has amassed ever-greater powers and moved to stifle opposition voices,” notably in a 2022 referendum.

Reports last week indicated that the Tunisian legislature has made provisions to normalize its law with the World Anti-Doping Code, but WADA has made no public comment about this as yet.

The dissolution of the national swimming federation’s board of directors now raises questions of government interference with the autonomy of sport for the Aquatics Integrity Unit, World Aquatics and possibly for the International Olympic Committee.

Saied’s prosecution of nine individuals so far puts them in substantial jeopardy for following the WADA edict from two weeks ago, another challenge to WADA’s authority and to the rules-based administration of international sport led by the International Olympic Committee.

As of now, the Tunisian flag would not be flown at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris; the country sent 63 athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Games and won two medals (1-1-0).

The other currently non-compliant National Olympic Committees are Angola and Russia.

Ex-Russian Poistogova appeals London 2012 medal DQ

Former Russian 800 m runner Ekaterina Poistogova (now Guliyev), who won an Olympic bronze in London in 2012 and later upgraded to silver before she was disqualified for doping, has filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Russian Maria Savinova won the women’s 800 m race on the track in London, but was disqualified in 2017 for doping, moving Poistogova up to silver from bronze and giving the gold medal to South Africa’s Caster Semenya. The appeal is from a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision upholding an allegation from the Athletics Integrity Unit, which noted:

“This [appeal] follows the decision of CAS, at first instance, to uphold the AIU’s charges against Guliyev and impose an effective ban of 2 years, from 28 March 2024, for Use of a Prohibited Substance/Method (McLaren and LIMS evidence). DQ results from 17 July 2012 until 20 October 2014.”

That decision gave the silver medal to Kenyan Pam Jelimo (originally fourth) and the bronze to American Alysia Montano (originally fifth), with Semenya still the winner.

Poistogova, now Guliyev after marrying Turkey’s 2017 World men’s 200 m champ Ramil Guliyev in 2019, is still active and competes now for Turkey, finishing third in the national indoor 800 m in February.

The appeal means that any re-allocation of medals by the International Olympic Committee will have to wait. Montano, however, says she has time. She wrote on her Instagram page in April:

“We need policy reform we need to institute an athlete mental health protection policy plan and a institute a framework that pays athletes for their loss. Here’s my ask at the very least: I want my medal at LA2028 in front of my entire family and friends on my home turf. I waited this long, 4 more years to do it right. I also want financial losses recouped. The emotions are so very mixed, but I believe this is the least that can be done. Who’s with me?”

Bednarek a happy road warrior after Doha world lead

One of the highlighted events at last Friday’s Doha Diamond League meet in Qatar was the men’s 200 m, where world leader Courtney Lindsey of the U.S. faced countryman – and Olympic silver medalist – “Kung Fu Kenny” Bednarek.

Bednarek left no doubt from the start, taking control on the turn and finishing in a world-leading and lifetime best 19.67 (+1.7 m/s), with Lindsey second at 20.01. Bednarek moved to no. 9 on the all-time U.S. list and was a happy winner afterwards:

“I knew what I was gonna run, I won with the world lead, I was just hoping that the weather would work with us and that is what it did. So, when I crossed the finish line I saw the time I didn’t know if it was the [world] lead; when they wanted to hand me the World Lead sign, I knew I did it.

“I knew I was in a good shape because my teammates would push me on practice. We are happy for each other, I am happy for them, they are happy for me, that is all that matters. It is just love.

“The best I can do this year is gold-medal in the Olympics, I did it in Tokyo [silver medal], I know I have the talent and good training. Running this fast this early is really good, it means I will be fast by the time we start the Olympics.

“Time doesn’t matter, my main focus is not the time, but competing and making sure we get the job done. The next race may be in Los Angeles [on Saturday, 19 May], I am not sure, I have been running lot of back-to-back races.

“’Fear No One’ is the message on today´s headband I’m wearing. I have a special headband with me for every single track event, I give it to the other competitors, we try to have a great time.”

The wind was a major factor at the meet, and even so, there were world-leading performances in six events, including the men’s discus. Slovenia’s 2022 World Champion Kristjian Ceh – who stands in at 6-9! – took advantage and won at 70.48 m (231-3), now no. 3 in the world for 2024. But:

“My performance was fine. I am still not in a good shape. I was really surprised that I threw a very long shot over 70 meters, but still I´m not in a very good shape yet.

“I want to be in a really good shape to participate in the European Championships [in Rome in June], there will be four events for me until then. The following competition is next week, the Marrakesh Diamond League.”

He also appreciated a strong crowd at the Qatar Sports Club:

It is always good to be here. The crowd is very loud, and the weather is really good.”

And in the future? “I think the world record will be broken again”

Ceh, Tokyo Olympic winner Daniel Stahl (SWE) and new world-record holder Mykolas Alekna (LTU) are scheduled to face off on Sunday at the Marrakech Diamond League meet.

The other truly brilliant performer was Brazil’s 2022 World men’s 400 m hurdles champ Alison dos Santos, who opened his season with a scary 46.86, the no. 15 performance in history and the fastest time ever run before June:

“I am really excited, it is a very good way to start things! It is still very early in the season, we know that we have much work to do, so this result gives us a good, good vibe for the rest of the season!

“It is going to be very tough this year, so to start in such a fashion is so positive. It was just like come here, see how work and preparation is going and it proved to be a very good day!

“The crowd was amazing, too… I have three places in my heart, these are Zurich, Bellinzona and Doha. It always feels so special to be here and compete before these fans. Looking forward to seeing them again in the future.”

More T&F world leads and a new, teen 800 m star

Even with the Doha Diamond League, the Jamaica Athletics Invitational and all of the U.S. conference championships, even more world-leading performances continue to come at a rapid pace. Now on top of the world lists:

Men/4×400 m: 2:59.03, United States (Arkansas)
Women/Shot Put: 20.68 m (67-10 1/4), Sarah Mitton (CAN)
Women/Javelin: 66.70 m (218-10), Flor Dennis Ruiz (COL)

With the World Athletics Relays just a couple of weeks ago, it’s astonishing that a collegiate team could take the world lead in the men’s 4×400 m, but that’s what the Arkansas all-American quartet of TJ Tomlyanovich (45.5), Lance Lang (44.3), Steven McElroy (44.77), and James Benson (44.18) did.

And they had to, because the SEC men’s title depended on it and their 2:59.03 was just 0.03 better than Alabama, which ran 2:59.06! By winning, the Arkansas men took the team title by 110-104 over the Crimson Tide.

Alabama’s team included Chris Robinson (USA), Samuel Ogazi (NGR), Corde Long (USA: 45.6) and Khaleb McRae (USA: 43.73!) Florida was third at 2:59.48, with anchor Jenoah McKiver (USA) turning a 43.96 split!

Mitton, the 2024 World Indoor gold medalist, won the shot at the Throws U meet in Leesport, Pennsylvania, and Dennis Ruiz, the 2023 Worlds runner-up, won the Ibero-American Championships in Cuiaba (BRA) with a lifetime best and a South American record.

And there is a new name to remember in the women’s 800 m.

Just off the world lead – by 0.13 – was the 1:57.86 win by 17-year-old British newcomer Phoebe Gill at the Belfast Irish Milers Meeting on Saturday (she just turned 17 on 27 April!). She crushed her prior lifetime best of 2:01.50 and set European U-18 and U-20 records. She won by almost 2 1/2 seconds, taking the pace out under 57 seconds.

A new face to watch for Paris perhaps?

Mallon: 73.3% of all Olympians appear in one Games only

Fascinating statistics from super-statistician Dr. Bill Mallon (USA) in a Monday post on X (ex-Twitter), noting that there have been 122,382 participants in the Games of the Olympiad – summer Games – from Athens 1896 through Tokyo 2020.

Of those, the overwhelming majority appeared in just one Games and taking those who appeared twice, the total is 112,869 or 92.2%! The breakdown:

● 1 Games: 89,664 athletes or 73.3% of the total
● 2 Games: 23,205 or 19.0%
● 3 Games: 6,952 or 5.7%
● 4 Games: 1,913 or 1.6%
● 5 Games: 485 or 0.4%

● 6 Games: 114 or 0.1%
● 7 Games: 34 or 0.0%
● 8 Games: 11 or 0.0%
● 9 Games: 3 or 0.0%
● 10 Games: 1 or 0.0%

The single athlete who has competed in 10 Olympic Games is Canadian equestrian Ian Millar, who participated in every Games from 1972 to 2012 except for the 1980 Moscow Games, boycotted by Canada and others (he rode on eight different horses!).

A show-jumping specialist, he was 25 years old in Munich and 65 in London in 2012 and won a 2008 Olympic Team Jumping silver, at 61! His best individual finish came in his last Games, in London, where he was ninth.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said in a Sunday post on X (computer translation from the original French):

“Thanks to the preparation and great vigilance of agents of the Ministry of @Interieur_Gouv, 23 actions aimed at disrupting the smooth running of the Olympic festivities linked to the torch relay have been hampered since the start of the week.”

A story on CNews noted that four of the incidents involved anti-Olympic protests and seven related to Palestinian protestors. The relay has a special detail of 115 police officers on the route to ensure security.

● Asian Games 2026: Aichi-Nagoya ● While no specific Games village is being built for the 2026 Asian Games in Japan, there will be a central village “facility”: a cruise ship.

The Aichi-Nagoya organizers told the Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly in Bangkok (THA) that a ship in the Port of Nagoya, with accommodations for 3,000 people, would be the central “village.” The accommodations plan is to use 50 hotels or other accommodations in all, with 10 in Nagoya, 30 more across the Aichi prefecture and 10 in other prefectures, close to the competition sites.

● Modern Pentathlon ● The Egyptian combo of Haydy Morsy and Mohanad Shaban started the Laser Run second, but got to the line first in the Mixed Relay at the end of the fourth UIPM World Cup of the season, in Sofia (BUL). They barely edged China’s Yewen Gu and Bailiang Chen and Catherine Oliver and Duilio Carrillo (MEX), 1,352-1,351-1,350 as all three almost crossed together.

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