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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. CAS: Valieva hearing to continue in November
2. Russian Foreign Minister says IOC an instrument of the West
3. World Gymnastics Champs open on Saturday; no U.S. TV
4. Another Kipyegon record at first World Road Champs?
5. Athletes run away from doping officials in India!
● The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that the hearing over the Kamila Valieva doping case (and the determination of results for the 2022 Winter Olympic Team event in figure skating) was concluded for now, but would be reconvened for two more days in November.
● Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pummeled the International Olympic Committee once again on Thursday, continuing the Russian internal propaganda campaign that portrays the country as a victim, rather than as the aggressor against Ukraine.
● The FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships open on Saturday in Belgium, with the U.S. women looking for a seventh team title in a row, and superstar Simone Biles ready to add to her record medal totals.
● The World Athletics Road Running Championships will debut on Sunday in Riga, Latvia, with races for men and women in the road mile, 5 km and half marathon. A new world road record for the women’s mile is widely expected with track 1,500 m and mile world-record holder Faith Kipyegon of Kenya leading the field.
● Doping in India is becoming a problem and at a regional track & field meet in New Delhi, athletes were literally running away from drug-testing personnel! In the men’s 100 m, only one athlete competed in the final, as the other seven pulled out, fearing a test.
● World Championships: Rugby (World Cup has five undefeateds left) ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (Good job fair turnout for Paris vendors) = Asian Games (China with huge lead in Hangzhou medal table) = Athletics (Bob Beamon starts a music career!) = Swimming (380 men and 304 women already qualified for Olympic Trials) ●
CAS: Valieva hearing to continue in November
The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that the scheduled three days of hearings in the Kamila Valieva doping case concluded on Thursday, but that the hearing will be extended, and reconvened in November:
“The Panel of arbitrators in charge of the matter heard the parties (RUSADA, ISU, WADA and Ms Valieva), their experts and witnesses during the hearing that took place at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week.
“After the presentation of evidence by the parties, the Panel ordered the production of further documentation and, in order to allow the parties to consider and address such documentation, allowed two further days for the hearing of the appeal. The hearing will therefore resume on 9 and 10 November 2023 in Lausanne at which time the evidentiary proceedings will be completed and the Panel will hear the parties’ closing submissions. The Panel will then deliberate and prepare the Arbitral Award containing its decision.”
The hearing is a consolidated appeal against a decision of the Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, an independent arm of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which imposed only a one-day sanction against figure skating star Valieva for a doping positive from trimetazidine, allowing her to compete at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency have all appealed and the actions were brought together in one hearing, now to resume in a couple of weeks.
A WADA statement included:
“Due to the confidential nature of the proceedings, WADA is unable to comment on the adjournment announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier today. …
“We maintain that the RUSADA Disciplinary Committee’s finding that the athlete had ‘no fault or negligence’ was incorrect under the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code, we continue to seek a four-year period of Ineligibility and Ineligibility the athlete’s results from the date of sample collection, including her results during the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.”
The Team Event in Beijing concluded on 7 February 2022; it is now likely that just under two years will have passed by the time the CAS panel’s decision is announced.
Russian Foreign Minister says IOC an instrument of the West
Russia’s propaganda campaign to support its war against Ukraine is constant and unrelenting and sport is part of the program. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chimed in on Thursday during an interview with the national news agency TASS:
“The [International Olympic Committee] is already using the situation around Ukraine to grossly and directly violate the Olympic Charter.
“At the same time, it is suspending most of our athletes from competitions, but making exceptions for certain sports, for certain age groups in a neutral status, without a flag and without an anthem as some kind of huge positive step.”
After accusing the IOC of ignoring Western transgressions for many years, he added:
“[W]hen Russia, after many, many years of warnings to the world community, that NATO is leading the way to a big war, directly creating a military threat on the borders of the Russian Federation, encouraging a regime that was openly prepared by Washington to contain Russia and attack Russia, here the IOC decided to show its incomprehensible principles contrary to its responsibilities under the Olympic Charter.”
Lavrov expanded his remarks specific to the Olympic Movement, saying it “is turning into an instrument of Western policy,” and pointing to the IOC.
“This is absolutely obvious. Just as the World Anti-Doping Agency at one time was turned into such a tool. And for many years they tried to undermine competitors from our country on various international platforms, grossly abusing anti-doping rules, accusing – groundlessly, repeatedly – our great athletes.”
Observed: Lavrov’s comments and those of other Russian officials are aimed primarily at the Russian public, continuing to paint Russia as the victim of aggression worldwide, rather than as the actual attacker of Ukraine. It is important to understand the Russian position as it will be taken into account by the IOC in its deliberations on whether to allow Russian athletes, and on what grounds, to compete in Paris in 2024.
The IOC, starting with President Thomas Bach (GER), and its members and advisors, are more than aware of the issues at stake by allowing any Russian or Belarusian participation in Paris. Bach’s view, developed by years of watching IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch (ESP) stitch the Olympic Games back together after consecutive boycotts in 1976-80-84, insists that the world come together at the Olympic Games as a sign of peaceful coexistence.
That seems impossible given Russian invasion and continuing war in Ukraine, but the IOC is looking for a window that will be small enough to allow some – perhaps a few handfuls – of Russian and Belarusians in Paris, but not enough to offend other countries and hopefully keep Ukraine in attendance.
The comments of Lavrov, Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin and others are for domestic consumption, and the IOC cannot expect Moscow to be happy with anything other than full participation, which is not going to happen. But they are instructive, and the IOC will continue listening all the way into 2024, when it will have to make a decision.
World Gymnastics Champs open on Saturday; no U.S. TV
The 52nd FIG Artistic World Championships begin on Saturday in Antwerp (BEL) and continue through 8 October for men and women. The schedule:
● 30 Sep.: Men’s team qualifying
● 01 Oct.: Men’s and women’s team qualifying
● 02 Oct.: Women’s team qualifying
● 03 Oct.: Men’s team final
● 04 Oct.: Women’s team final
● 05 Oct.: Men’s All-Around
● 06 Oct.: Women’s All-Around
● 07 Oct.: Apparatus finals
● 08 Oct.: Apparatus finals
The U.S. women enter as the six-time defending World team gold medalists and have won seven of the last eight and eight of the last 10 Worlds team titles. The 2023 team returns Skye Blakley, Shilese Jones and Leanne Wong, who won without the incomparable Simone Biles and she also returns, having won four prior Worlds Team golds.
Biles, in fact, will extend her own astounding World Championships medal records with every podium finish in Antwerp. Consider her existing standing, across from six competitions from 2013-19:
● 25 total medals (19-3-3), the most of any gymnast ever
● 21 individual-event medals (15-3-3), the most all-time
● 19 total Worlds golds, the most all-time
● 15 individual-event golds, the most all-time
Biles has also applied to have an original element named for her in Antwerp, the Yurchenko Double Pike vault, which she has performed before. Per the FIG rules:
“In order to have a new element named for her in the Code, a gymnast must first submit it for evaluation to the FIG Women’s Technical Committee, then perform it without a fall at an eligible prestigious international competition like the World Championships.”
If she completes it, the vault will be the most difficult vault to be listed in the FIG Code of Points at 6.4 for degree of difficulty. If completed, this will be Biles’ second named element in the Vault.
Jones, the 2022 All-Around silver winner, has also asked for an named element, for a triple turn with the leg held at horizontal in the Floor Exercise. Jones performed this at the USA Gymnastics Nationals, and if completed, would be graded as an “E” element on the A-to-J scale of difficulty, with a successful execution adding 0.5 points to a routine’s score.
FIG noted that the “same new element was also submitted by Chiaki Hatakeda (JPN).”
Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, the 2022 All-Around winner over Jones, is back, as is Floor winner Jessica Gadirova (GBR).
The men’s competition was dominated by China in 2022, with Japan taking silver and Great Britain the bronze. Unfortunately, gymnastics at the Asian Games in Hangzhou (CHN) continues through the 29th, making it almost – but not completely – impossible for anyone there to get to Antwerp in time to compete again.
Nevertheless, China and Japan will again be teams to watch, along with Great Britain, South Korea, Ukraine and perhaps Hungary and Turkey. Japan’s All-Around winner, Daiki Hashimoto, will be back, along with three apparatus event winners: Rhys McCleneghan (IRL: Pommel Horse), Artur Davtyan (ARM: Vault) and Adem Asil (TUR: Rings).
There will be no live television coverage of the Worlds in the U.S.; NBC’s Peacock streaming service will have coverage from 3-8 October only. A replay of the women’s Team final will shown on CNBC on 8 October and NBC will have a replay of the women’s All-Around on 14 October.
Another Kipyegon record at first World Road Champs?
The much-anticipated first World Athletics Road Running Championships will be held on Sunday (1st) in Riga, Latvia, with another record opportunity for Kenyan star Faith Kipyegon.
The program includes the road mile, 5 km and Half Marathon, with all of the course quite flat, offering the prospect of fast times. The 5 km and Half courses traverse the Daugava River, while the mile course is separate; all three have mass-participation races also attached to them.
As for the championships:
● Mile: Kipyegon has had a season for the ages, with world records on the track for the 1,500 m (3:59.11), mile (4:07.64) and 5,000 m (14:05.20, since broken). Now she is the favorite in the women’s mile, with the just-ratified world road mile mark of 4:27.97 by American Nikki Hiltz in her sights.
She won’t be completely alone, however, as World Champs 1,500 m runner-up Diribe Welteji (ETH: 3:55.69 in Budapest) will challenge, along with Kenyan teammate and Worlds fifth-placer Nelly Chepchirchir (3:57.90 in Budapest) and Australian Jessica Hull (7th: 3:59.54). Ethiopia has also sent 2022 World Indoor 1,500 bronze winner Hirut Meshesha (3:54.87: no. 4 in 2023) and 2022 World Indoor 800 m silver medalist Freweyni Hailu (3:55.68 1,500 m in 2023).
The American continent is led by Addy Wiley, 19, the 2022 World U-20 fifth placer, who was third in the U.S. road mile championships in April in 4:31.
There’s no clear favorite in men’s mile, which includes the new world road-mile record holder, American Sam Prakel, who won the USATF road-mile nationals in Des Moines in 4:01.21. Expect his record to be broken, however, with a solid list of contenders that starts with Kenyan Reynold Kipkorir, eighth at the Worlds 1,500 m in 3:30.78. He ran 3:48.06 for fifth at the Pre Classic on 16 September.
Ethiopia’s Teddese Lemi (3:33.24 this year), American Hobbs Kessler (3:32.61), Melkenah Azeze (ETH: 3:34.29), South African Ryan Mphahlele (3:32.90) and France’s Mael Gouyette (3:35.94) all figure to be challengers.
● 5 km: Familiar stars from the track season are ready to go, with Ethiopia sending Yomif Kejelcha, no. 3 on the 2023 world list at 12:41.73, Hagos Gebrhiwet (no. 5: 12:42.18), and 2023 Cross Country Worlds runner-up Berihu Aregawi (world leader at 12:40.45). They finished 5-6-8 at the Worlds in Budapest in the 5,000 m final.
Kenya has Nicholas Kipkorir, the Tokyo Olympic fourth-placer, who has run 12:55.46 this season, Cornelius Kemboi (13:00.68 this season), and 2022 Worlds 10,000 m silver winner Stanley Waithaka Mburu. And is this the time for Australia’s hard-luck Stewart McSweyn – 12:56.50 last year – to break out with a medal-winning performance? The top U.S. entry is likely Olin Hacker, who ran 13:09.94 on the track in July this season.
The women’s entries start with Worlds 5,000 m bronze medalist Beatrice Chebet of Kenya (14:05.92 this year, no. 3 in the world and no. 3 all-time!), and teammates 10th-placer Lilian Rengeruk (14:23.05), plus Caroline Nyaga, the world road leader at 14:35.
Uganda’s Tokyo Olympic Steeple winner, Peruth Chemutai, is in and ran a national record 15:12 for 5 km on the roads in March. Ethiopia has the Worlds 5th and 6th placers, Ejgayehu Taye (14:13.31, no. 5 this year) and Medina Eisa (14:16.54, no. 7), ready to go, plus Lemlem Hailu (14:34.53: no. 13).
If fearlessness counts, look out for Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka, eighth at the Worlds and no. 12 on the world list this year at 14:29.18, a national record. American entries include Emily Infeld, the 2015 Worlds 10,000 m bronze winner (14:50.90 this season) and Weini Kelati, the 2021 U.S. 5 km champ, who has run 14:53.41 on the track this season.
● Half Marathon: Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, the Tokyo Olympic women’s marathon winner, is the headliner in the women’s race. She also the 2016 and 2020 world champ in the Half and just turned 30 in the 27th; her only race this year was a third in the London Marathon in April in 2:18:38.
That’s on top of Kenyan entries that include 2023 world leader Irene Kimais (64:37), Catherine Relin (65:39: 5th in 2023), Margaret Kipkemboi (65:50: 9th, 10,000 m bronze at the 2022 Worlds) and Janeth Chepngetich (66:42)!
Ethiopia counters with Ftaw Zeray (66:04: 12th), Tsigie Gebreselama (66:13: 15th), Yalemget Yaregal (66:27) and Mestawut Fikir (66:44).
The U.S. has an interesting entry list, with Sara Hall, 40, fifth at the 2022 Worlds marathon, who has a Half best of 67:15 from last year, plus Sarah Pagano (69:41 lifetime best), Amber Zimmerman (70:58 lifetime best) and Molly Grabill (71:17 lifetime best).
The men’s Half has nine who have run under an hour this season, starting with Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer Mekonnen (58:38, no. 2 in 2023), with teammates Nibret Malek (59:06, no. 8), Dinkalem Ayele (59:49) and Tsegay Kidanu (59:49).
Kenya counters with Benard Kibet (58:45, no. 3 in 2023), Charles Langat (58:53, no. 4), Sabastian Sawe (59:00, no. 7) and Daniel Ebenyo (59:52). But look out for France’s Jimmy Gressier, ninth at the Worlds 5,000 m in Budapest and has run 59:55 this season.
South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka, now 38, will be in his eighth Worlds Half, with a best of seventh in 2020. He’s run 60:54 this season, in June, and has a best of 59:36 from 2020.
All together, there are 347 athletes entered from 57 countries with 195 men (from 50) and 152 women (from 44).
NBC has the rights to the event in the U.S., and the World Roads will be on the Peacock streaming service, beginning at 4:20 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday.
Athletes run away from doping officials in India!
Doping is an emerging area of concern in India, and the latest incident in New Delhi was alarming.
The Indian Express reported that during the Delhi State Athletics Championships, as many as half of the entrants left the meet once it was known that anti-doping officials were on-site:
“A steeplechaser at the Delhi athletics championship crossed the finish line and kept running, fleeing dope testers who had turned up the day after a tell-tale video of doping syringes was circulated. Another sprinter ran the 100m alone on the eight tracks, as seven other entrants never turned up, fearing they would be tested.
“Amidst these bizarre scenes at the JN Stadium, lay the tragedy of India’s doping menace in a sport that offers fantasies of dizzying success. Athletes from school-level meets upwards are risking their bodily health with amateur doping practices, hoping they find breakthrough success in terms of jobs or spots in national teams, knowing that sophisticated cheats have gotten away in the past. When the testers show up, the farce of just one athlete willing to run the race points to a deep rot where the honest runner becomes ineligible for a medal because the others ran away from testing.”
Per Agence France Presse:
“[J]ust one sprinter competed in the [men’s] 100-metre final and another continued running beyond the finishing line chased by national anti-doping officers, officials said on Wednesday. …
“Officials told AFP that the National Anti-Doping Agency arrived to conduct tests at the event on Tuesday, resulting in the number of participants on the third and final day of the competition falling by half.”
A social-media post on Tuesday showed a stadium restroom “littered with syringes and packets of the performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin (EPO).”
AFP noted that 45 Indian athletes (across all sports) have been suspended for doping in 2023.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Rugby ● The 10th Rugby World Cup rolls on in France, with four group leaders and one second-place team still undefeated:
● Pool A: France (3-0: 13 points), Italy (2-0: 10)
● Pool B: Ireland (3-0: 14), South Africa (2-1: 10)
● Pool C: Wales (3-0: 14), Fiji (1-1: 6)
● Pool D: England (3-0: 14); Samoa (1-1: 5)
The pool phase runs through 8 October, with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals on 14-15 October, after a week’s rest. The championship match is scheduled for 28 October at the Stade de France in the Paris area.
Attendance continues to be impressive, with 1,148,108 through 25 matches, for an average of 45,924. There have been continuing, sporadic issues with crowd access to-and-from venues, including public transit being occasionally overwhelmed for some matches.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The Olympic-vendor job fair held Tuesday in Paris was well attended, with the Paris 2024 organizers announcing than more than 7,000 people showed up and 2,000 job offers extended from the 50-plus companies looking for help in Games-related positions in hospitality, logistics and transportation. Another major staffing fair will be held by the staffing giant Randstad on 18 October, looking for 3,000 people in logistics, operations, technology and hospitality.
● Asian Games ● With a little more than a week to go, the Asian Games in Hangzhou (CHN) continues as the expected showcase for China, with the hosts nearly doubling the medal count on second-place South Korea.
Through 182 of 481 events, China leads with 167 medals (90-51-26), ahead of South Korea’s 86 (24-23-39) and 78 for Japan (18-30-30). Uzbekistan (31) and India (25) are in fourth and fifth.
● Athletics ● Jazz and hip-hop drummer and producer Stix Bones released a new track, “Leap,” on 15 September, with a new percussionist: 1968 Olympic long jump champ Bob Beamon!
Beamon, now 77, contributed as percussionist on “Leap,” the first of two singles from Bones’ forthcoming EP, Olimpik Soul. Said Beamon in an interview, “I’ve been hypnotized by the drums since I was 9 years old.” Great new gig!
● Swimming ● SwimSwam.com ran two stories about qualifiers for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials, now nearing 700.
Some 380 men have qualified for Indianapolis, with more to come, in the 14 events, with Kieran Smith the leader with marks in eight events: four Freestyles, two Backstrokes and both Medleys. Shaine Casas has qualified in seven events and 10 men have qualified in at least five.
A total of 304 women have qualified, with Bella Sims qualifying in 10 events, Katie Grimes in nine and Regan Smith in eight. Thirteen athletes have qualified in six or more events! Sims has met the standard in five Freestyle events, one in Backstroke, two in Butterfly and both Medleys.
The qualification period ends on 30 May 2024, and the Trials will be in Indianapolis from 15-23 June 2024.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!