Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Conte Response

Last week I suggested that with the various accusations Victor Conte has thrown out over the years regarding the wide spread use drugs in the sport, perhaps he might be the best source to help develop a system that could fix the problem. And that if he were sincere in wanting to see a cleaner track and field, perhaps he should offer to work with the sport as opposed to criticize it from afar.

Well imagine my surprise when apparently Mr. Conte himself not only read what I wrote but took the time to post a response to it. So following is Mr. Conte’s response as posted on this site:

Hi Conway,
I have met with both USADA and WADA a number of times and provided both agencies with lots of information that could help to reduce the use of drugs in sport. However, I'm just not so sure there is a genuine interest in catching those using performance enhancing drugs. I told USDA to increase their out of competition testing during the fourth quarter of the year because that is when the athletes are using steroids and other PEDs in conjunction with weight training to build the explosive strength base that serves them throughout the next competitive season. However, in the fourth quarter of 2007 before the 2008 Olympic Games, USADA actually reduced the amount of testing done by 50%. Why? I met with Dick Pound from WADA in New York in December of 2007 and provided him with lots of valuable information. Specific information that was never followed up on, because the new chairman John Fahey said that he didn't want to accept information from a "convicted felon." In 2010 I worked again with WADA on another project in which I was trying to help them develop a test for another designer substance. I asked Dick to please obtain a copy of the extensive notes that were taken during our 2007 meeting to confirm what I had told them about this network of people back in 2007 when WADA chose not to use the information. He came back and told me that WADA had "destroyed the notes" from our meeting. So, I question whether or not there is actually a genuine interest by USADA and WADA to catch the many drug cheats out there in sport today. Much of what I hear the officials from these agencies say publicly seems to be more about propaganda designed to deter athletes from using drugs. However, the athletes, trainers and chemists involved in doping are not so easliy going to be deterred by strong talk. Scare tactics have obviously not worked in the past and I don't think they will work in the future either.There is simply too much incentive for the athletes and it is too easy to circumvent the anti-doping procedures in place at this time. In my opinion, the testing procedures need a complete overhaul before there will be a significant reduction in the use of drugs at the elite level of sport. I believe that it can be done, but these agencies will need to learn to judge less and listen more before significant positive change comes.

October 28, 2011 11:38 AM

Now, that’s a lot to digest, because it would appear that Conte has indeed made an attempt to do what I had suggested – work with the acronyms (USADA, WADA, et al) to improve the state of drug testing within the sport.

This, of course is just one side of the conversation, as there is no corroborating information from the USADA/WADA side that these things did indeed happen. Though I would certainly welcome comments from either agency regarding their interactions with Mr. Conte.

I do know, however, that this is a potentially great match for the sport – the pairing of one of the best doping minds the sport has seen with those entities entrusted with catching the very individuals that Conte once assisted! And just as I raised the question of sincerity with Conte, I have to do the same with the agencies whose job it is to bring down the cheaters, because I would think that whether you like Conte or not, obtaining his knowledge on doping would be a tremendous coup.

I also know that some of the things Conte mentioned in his response make sense. I myself have mentioned the need for increased out of competition testing to ensure proper development of “blood passports” to use with a Blood Testing program. As a matter of fact, I will be taking a look at the whole issue of testing and my suggestions to improve the sports’ standing on this matter in the very near future.

For now I would like to thank Mr. Conte for his comments, and would love to hear from USADA and/or WADA regarding their side of the Conte conversation.

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 in Review – Men’s 400 Meters

image2011 proved to be a year of “old v new” as the old guard struggled to maintain and find form, while the young guns searched to find themselves. And in the backdrop of it all the biggest story of the year was the impending return to competition of defending World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt.

The young guns dominated the early action, as the collegiate quarter milers came out of a hot indoor season that saw Kirani James (GRN, 44.80) Tony McQuay (USA, 45.21) and Demetrius Pinder (BAH, 45.33) turn in some sizzling marks. Unfortunately for McQuay, he would be injured in his heat of the deuce at NCAA’s and would see his season derailed for the early part of outdoors. There was no such problem for Grenadian’s James and Rondell Bartholmew, as Bartholomew screamed a 44.65 on Apr 2nd that would lead the world until the opening rounds in Daegu – Bartholomew would not run as fast for the rest of the year! James was not quite as fast but his outdoor opener of 45.12 (Apr 23rd) would be a portent of things to come.

Meanwhile, veteran Jeremy Wariner (USA) was starting to show signs of being his “old self” as he went 45.61 (Apr 23rd), 45.19 (Apr 30) and 44.88 (May 7th) in quick succession. The collegiates kept the heat on in May and June, however, as James screamed a 44.86 to win the SEC crown, then McQuay countered with a 44.87 in the first round of the NCAA outdoor champs. They would go head to head in the NCAA final in less than ideal conditions with James (45.10) taking the title just ahead of McQuay’s 45.14.

McQuay would then meet veteran Wariner in a battle for the U.S. title – a battle that McQuay would win going away 44.68 to 44.98. Another veteran would get upended that same weekend, as Jamaican record holder Jermaine Gonzalez found himself on the outside looking in, with a 4th place finish at the Jamaican Trials for Daegu. Gonzales would end up making the Jamaican team however, as 2nd place Leford Greene chose to focus on the 400H and dropped out of the open 400, leaving a spot for Gonzalez.

On the heels of all of those fireworks, several principles in the event suddenly went quiet, as McQuay would not race again until Daegu, and Wariner & James would only race once each. Wariner’s 45.50 for 4th in Paris would mark the end of his season as he would race no more, and announced shortly thereafter that he was withdrawing from Worlds due to injury. James’ 44.61 to win in London was a PR and would signal that he was very fit ahead of Daegu. Among those defeated by James, was Jermaine Gonzalez – 2nd in 44.85. It was part of a busy summer for Gonzalez who ran four times in his lead up to Daegu – winning in Lausanne and Stockholm, and coming third is Paris in addition to the London race.

The win in Stockholm was an SB and marked the return to the track of LaShawn Merritt – finally eligible to compete a scant four weeks before the World Championships. Merritt’s season opening 44.74, pushed Gonzales to his SB and immediately put Merritt into contention for the global title. Unfortunately for Merritt, there was only one more opportunity to get sharp before Daegu (London where Merritt wasn’t entered) as after London there was a three week lull in activity with no competitions leading into the World Championships!

So once again Daegu marked the place where the elite went to meet – as head to head match ups in most events were hard to find in 2011. It didn’t take things long to heat up once everyone arrived in Daegu, as LaShawn Merritt flew to a world leading 44.35 in the 3rd heat of the FIRST round easily the fastest first round (3 round format) ever! That was the good news. The bad news in round one was the injury elimination of Tony McQuay in the final round (5) as his injury from earlier in the year resurfaced and the U.S. champion was only able to finish 6th in his heat. The semis saw Merritt under 45 seconds again (44.76) as he was the only competitor to do so. Lining up for the final the race was clearly between Merritt, James, and Gonzales, but as they came off the turn Merritt looked to be headed for a repeat of his ’09 win as he was a couple of meters ahead of James with the rest of the field in tow. James would slowly eat into the lead as they headed up the stretch however, until in literally the final couple of strides he edged ahead for a 44.60 to 44.63 win over the defending champion – becoming the youngest ever World champion in the event. James Merritt and Gonzales would meet once more in Zurich with James setting a PR 44.36 to win over Merritt’s 44.67.

And now it’s time to hand out the rankings. A task that was somewhat easier than the other events so far as there were some clear divisions among the top competitors.


#1 Kirani James Grenada

James was an easy choice for the #1 spot. For starters he was undefeated, going 8 – 0 on the season with major wins at the NCAA championships, London, Zurich and Berlin. He had the #2 time in the world and beat everyone that was anyone this year. And, oh yeah, he won the World title. In the process he became the #2 Junior of all time behind the legendary Steve Lewis (USA). James did everything he needed to this year.


#2 LaShawn Merritt United States

Merritt also did everything he needed to, or at least everything one could given his circumstances. He led the world on the clock, took the silver medal at the World Championships, and in five late season races beat everyone that mattered on the season that wasn’t injured by the time he arrived. He was 2 -3 on the season, but never worse than 2nd, including a 2 -1 record over World’s 4th placer Jermaine Gonzales.


#3 Jermaine Gonzales Jamaica

Though 4th in Daegu, Gonzales was 2 – 1 over bronze medalist Kevin Borlee. His 3 – 8 record included wins in Ostrava, Lausanne and Stockholm. And only at Jamaica Nationals and Worlds did he finish worse than 3rd – finishing 4th on each occasion.


#4 Chris Brown Bahamas

Choosing this spot was the toughest of the five. At the end of the day it was his 2 – 0 record over the next man on the list and his wins in Kingston, Rome and Paris (4 – 7 on the season) that earned him this spot. His biggest failure was not making the Daegu final, but his wins in Europe and head to heads get Brown this spot.


#5 Kevin Borlee Belgium

Borlee won the bronze medal in Daegu, but his wins were in unimpressive meets in Izmir, Madrid, and Budapest in a 3 – 8 season. IN addition, he lost to Brown in New York and London. Makng this one of those times when the Circuit outweighed Worlds for me.

That’s my assessment of the men’s event. Next up the women’s 400.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 in Review – Women’s 200 Meters

imageAs with the men’s event, the women’s deuce suffers from a lack of real competition among it’s best competitors – possibly even more so. Ninety three times women have broken the 22 second barrier with legal wind – none did so in 2011. As a matter of fact, there have only been nine such marks in the New Millennium! None at all in ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06 and this year. Compare that to the twenty eight marks under 11 seconds that were churned out in 2011, and we have an event that is sorely underdeveloped – crying out for someone to just take it over!

This year didn’t get going until May, but then started out as if it were going to be one of those banner years, as Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) and Shelly Ann Fraser (JAM) went head to head in Kingston and Fraser upsetting VCB with a sizzling early season 22.10w. It would be the fastest time of the year under any conditions and we would only see VCB and Fraser a combined five more times during the season – Campbell Brown three times and Fraser two. And so would go the season.

Defending World champion Allyson Felix embarked on a sprint double for Daegu so split her time between here and the 400. The 400 strength paid off early with wins in Daegu (Pre Worlds, Jun 12) and New York, but her lack of sizzling times was a portent for the future. Actually a portent for the season as up to the June “National Championships” period for various countries, no one really put down a marker that said “I am this year’s favorite” – especially with VCB already sporting a loss.

Then at U.S. Nationals we finally had some fireworks, as Shalonda Solomon blitzed the year’s fastest legal time with her 22.15 win. The real surprise, however, was the second place finish of Carmelita Jeter as her semi (22.24) and final (22.23) made her a serious contender heading into Daegu. A 22.20 win in Monaco during the summer (over Felix among others) solidified her credentials. And with VCB competing only once more before Daegu (off the grid in Budapest) and Felix not looking sharp, the year’s preseason favorites looked like they could give way to an upstart at Worlds.

An “upstart” who would not get that opportunity was Bianca Knight (USA) who placed fourth at Nationals, but came back over the summer to take victories in Rome, Birmingham, and London! So entering the World Championships, Daegu would be the only race of the season where all the main combatants would go head to head, with Knight the only heavyweight not in attendance.

The World Championships would see the seldom raced Veronica Campbell Brown take gold ahead of the U.S. trio of Jeter, Feiix and Solomon, as Jeter nearly pulled off the upset win – sporting a blazing bend before VCB finally found her gear in the second half of the stretch to take the win. Jeter would return to take the last big race of the season winning in Zurich ahead of Felix, Fraser, Solomon, and Knight et al. – with Campbell Brown not in attendance.

With the season in the books, two things made this event very difficult to rank. One was the minimal season put in by Veronica Campbell Brown, as she raced here in only four meets, including Daegu. The other was the failure of Bianca Knight to make the U.S. team, because she was clearly one of the better sprinters during the European Circuit. Taking everything into account, however, here is how I finally ranked the top five.


#1 Veronica Campbell Brown Jamaica

I hate to play “rock, paper, scissors” when ranking athletes – A beat B, B beat C, and C beat A so ….. Which really leaves this year’s World Championships as the biggest meet of the year in more ways than one. With the exception of Knight, VCB took on everyone that mattered and came out on top – and did so convincingly. Couple that with the fact she had the best record on the season percentage wise at 4 – 1, and I have to give her the nod – though barely.


#2 Carmelita Jeter United States

Jeter had the best set of marks on the season as she hammered out four races of 22.2x – easily the top set of marks this year. Unfortunately, she was only 4 – 4 on the season, and in the one race where she got the opportunity to face Campbell Brown she came up a bit short. A win in Daegu and she ranks #1 in her first serious attempt at the distance. The loss leaves her at #2.


#3 Allyson Felix United States

Spots three, four and five were more difficult than one would think – mostly because of the presence of Bianca Knight on the European Circuit. Felix was only 2 – 4 on the year, however, this Ro Sham Bo season left most of the top women with “negative” seasons. In the end Felix was 2 – 2 with Knight, and came home with bronze over Solomon at Worlds and thus grabs the #3 slot here.


#4 Shalonda Solomon United States

Finding a ranking slot was a similar situation with Solomon who, in spite of her world leading 22.15 at Nationals, was only 2 – 4 on the year. Among her races she met Knight 3 times, beating her twice, the big one being her finish ahead of her in Zurich. That and her fourth place finish land Solomon my #4 spot.


#5 Bianca Knight United States

Knight actually had one of the best records in the event this season at 4 – 5, with three of those wins in Rome, Birmingham and London. Her fourth place at U.S. Trials cost her, however, as she missed the year’s biggest race, and after finishing behind Felix and Solomon more often than ahead, I can only find room for her here at #5.

So went an interesting year in the women’s deuce. Next I’ll take a look at the men and women’s 400.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time for Victor Conte to Come Clean

imageVictor Conte is back in the news, as once again we get to hear from the horse’s mouth just how dirty this sport has been and is – in his opinion. Of course Conte’s opinion is considerable if you take into account the fact that he was the chemical mastermind behind the “Cream” (Testosterone cream) and the “Clear” (Tetrahydrogestrinone or THG) – the “undetectable” drugs at the heart of the BALCO scandal of the “oughts” which took down such luminaries as Tim Montgomery, Dwain Chambers, Kellie White, Kevin Toth, Regina Jacobs, and Marion Jones among others.

Given Mr. Conte’s resume, I would say he should know a little something about the drug issues within the sport of track and field. After all, I’m sure these are not the only athletes that either first or second hand used or gained knowledge from the products that he distributed. Besides, when you reach the forefront of your field, as Conte did in developing his undetectable products, you gain lots of “friends” and develop quite a network within the industry. So I would imagine that Conte’s “inside” knowledge is rather considerable.

Unfortunately Conte, and the sport, seems to be rather shortsighted when it comes to his knowledge and how he can help the sport. Because all Conte seems to want to do is point fingers and “tattle” on those I’m sure he feels got away while he and others had to serve their time – literally. The sport – as in WADA, the IAAF, and other acronyms – all seem to be convinced that the best use of Conte is as a “snitch”, which, unfortunately, is the unsavory category in which they place his potential testimony – as that of a snitch that may, or may not, be coming clean with proper information because he has an axe to grind with some folk within the sport as opposed to a sincere desire to clean up the sport.

So the two sides have sat at odds in something of a “Mexican Standoff” for nearly a decade, with Conte periodically screaming out that he knows who is dirty and he will tell if only people will listen; and the sport keeping him at arm’s length afraid to take his word as the gospel and start sending athletes, coaches and others to “time out”. Meanwhile Conte’s cries of “dirty sport” keeps the topic of drugs in this sport at the forefront, when track and field desperately needs to close that chapter and move forward.

Ironically I think Conte could actually help the sport accomplish the latter – to move forward in a positive manner. Not as the ultimate “insider” snitch, but as the chemical mastermind that he has proven to be. I think it’s time for Conte to come clean, as in come clean up the sport that he helped to sully! And the sport should embrace him with open arms in THAT regard!

We know that the system that’s been in use is, well useless when it comes to anything outside of the old tried and true drugs that the sport already has a solid read on – Clembuterol, Stanozolol, Furazabol, and Danabol to name a few. The “new stuff” the “undetectables” needs a more modern approach to get to the source. Blood testing could do that if the system were fully and properly implemented, but that would require the use of “passports” developed sport wide based on extensive out of competition testing to develop baselines – something that the sport in is nowhere near close to.

So, since we are basically at square one in the fight against drug use in sport, what better way to develop a system that is actually capable of catching drug cheats than by enlisting the aid/knowledge of the man who created the drugs to beat the old system! It’s not that radical a concept. As a matter of fact it’s no different than manufacturers of safes working with former safe crackers to find out why their products were vulnerable. After all, who would know better than a man that broke into your previously thought to be impenetrable product?

Now, I’m not suggesting that we line Mr. Conte’s pockets to do this. After all, he already made a lot of money while helping to give us the black eye we now carry. No, I would think that if Mr. Conte is “sincere” in his statements that he wants to see the sport clean, that he would gladly “volunteer” his services as sort of a form of “community service” to give back to the sport he has robbed. And if the acronyms are “sincere” in their stated want to clean up the sport, they will welcome him with open arms. Perhaps even provide a “stipend” to cover his basic costs – travel, lodging, food – while he works with WADA, the UCLA laboratory, or whomever it is deemed will serve best from his knowledge.

You see my belief is that if Conte knows who’s doping, then he knows how to bring them down – and I would rather see them brought down within the system, than via accusation. Because development of a system will not only bring down those he knows are cheating currently, but will prevent others from doing the same in the future – giving Conte the opportunity to change his legacy from the man at the head of BALCO to the man that made track and field (and others) a clean sport.

That, of course, is if everyone involved in truly interested in bringing us a clean sport.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011 in Review – Men’s 200 Meters

The deuce annually has the potential to be one of the best events of the season. Unfortunately two things always seem to get in the way – injuries and lack of competition.

This year’s casualties to injury were significant as Tyson Gay (USA) pulled out of Nationals due to injury and Wallace Spearmon (USA) was unable to advance past the opening round at Nationals. Gay is a former World champion (’07) and Spearmon was a medalist in ’05, ’07, and ’09. Another significant player was lost when Berlin finalist Steve Mullings (JAM) was lost to a drug suspension.

At the end of the day, however, it was lack of competition that once again kept the deuce from elevating to the top of the sports list of special events. Things looked like they might get hot in 2011 as Walter Dix (USA) opened up at 20.06 in Doha (May 6) followed the next day by Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) blowing out the year’s first sub20 with a 19.95 in Kingston. But after a sizzling opening, the remainder of May was quiet in the deuce.

June opened up hot as Usain Bolt (JAM) took to the track and took over the yearly lead at 19.86 in Oslo on June 9th. But again, the remainder of the month was quiet, the only other mark of note being a windy U.S. Nationals race with Dix (19.95, +2.4) out leaning Darvis Patton (19.98). From then until Daegu things were relatively quiet with no elite head to heads, and 2010 find Yohan Blake (JAM) avoiding the event altogether. Bolt won in Paris (20.03) and Stockholm (20.03), while Dix won Pre (20.19), Lucerne (20.02) and London (20.16) as the pair carved up the major races of the summer without going head to head. Ashmeade, after his blazing opener in Kingston, would run there again at Jamaica Nationals (2nd, 20.32) but would not be seen again until Daegu. Meanwhile Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) was honing his skills in Stockholm (20.28 to win his heat) and Paris (20.21) behind Bolt; as was Jaysuma Ndure (NOR) – a 2nd at Pre in 20.28 behind Dix, and a 2nd to Bolt in Oslo at 20.43 his best showings.

So it was that Daegu, as is becoming the norm in this event, would become the defining race of the season – providing that rare opportunity on the year where the best would actually line up in this event. The outcome was the deepest race of the season as Bolt (19.40), Dix (19.70), Lemaitre (19.80, PR) and Ndure (19.95) would all break the 20 second barrier – with early sub 20 man Ashmeade 5th in 20.29. The race would NOT be the years’ fastest however, as two weeks later Yohan Blake and Walter Dix lined up in Brussels in the deuce with Blake (19.26) becoming #2 all-time ahead of Dix (19.53) fueling my thoughts that this event is perhaps the best on the planet if we could just get the world’s best to compete with some regularity – and against each other!

All that said this event became fairly easy to rank at the end of the day:


#1 Usain Bolt Jamaica

Bolt was undefeated on the year, though his season only consisted of four races. One of those races was the World Championships where he defended his title – only Calvin Smith (‘83/’87) and Michael Johnson (‘93/’95) have won back to back World titles in the deuce. His 19.40 was #4 all-time at the time – now #5 – and he beat everyone that mattered on the season.


#2 Walter Dix United States

Just as easy a pick for the #2 slot, Dix took World silver and was #2 in the year’s two fastest races – races that produced the #’s 2 & 5 times ever. Dix was 5 – 2 on the year and defeated everyone else that mattered.


#3 Christophe Lemaitre France

Some may begin to see a pattern here as Lemaitre garners the same slot as his finish in Daegu, as the bronze medalist lost only to Bolt and Dix during his 3 – 2 season.


#4 Jaysuma Ndure Norway

Fourth in the year’s biggest race, twice under 20 seconds, and never worse than fourth in eight races. Ndure was solid all season long.


#5 Nickel Ashmeade Jamaica

Again the World Championships was the big determiner here in what was a four meet season for Ashmeade. He started the season at 19.95 in Kingston and ended it at 19.91 in Brussels, but only his Nationals and Worlds in between must rate the same as his finish in Daegu.

I’m sure some are asking, “What about Blake?” While Blake sizzled in Brussels with the #2 time ever, one race does not a season make. And while Blake did compete in four meets during the year, his times in the other three were 20.39, 20.33, and 20.38. He did defeat Dix in Brussels, but he also lost to Marvin Andersen in Ostrava (20.27 to 20.38). So with poor marks outside of Brussels, along with a loss, and not competing at Worlds, Blake just can’t crack my top 5 – even though he did move to #2 all time on the clock.

Next up, the women.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 in Review – Women’s 100 Meters

Carmelita Jeter Gold medalist Carmelita Jeter of United States celebrates on the podium with her medal for the women's 100 metres during day four of the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Daegu Stadium on August 30, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.The women’s 2011 season couldn’t have been more different than the men’s season if it had been scripted that way. The top women all had marks on the board by early May as defending World champion Shelly Ann Fraser (JAM) opening up over 200 with a 22.69 (Apr 16) & 22.10w (May 7); defending silver medalist Kerron Stewart (JAM) turning 11.07 (May 7); and Berlin bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter lighting it up with clockings of 10.99 (Apr 16) & 10.86 (May 7). That May 7th meet was the Jamaica Invitational where we got a new entrant into the sprint wars in Kelly Ann Baptiste (TRI) who cracked sizzled in 10.94.

A week later Marshevet Myers (USA) clocked 11.09 (May 14) to get in range; and Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) opened up with a 10.92 in Shanghai (May15) to defeat Jeter’s 10.95. On June 4th Shelly Ann Fraser opened over 100 at 10.95 at Prefontaine and the field was basically set for the season. The Prefontaine meet was huge with Fraser’s clocking good for only 4th behind Jeter (10.70), Myers (10.86), and Stewart (10.87)!

Unlike the men who were basically MIA over most of the European season however, the women were quite active. Campbell Brown started things off in fine fashion blasting a PR 10.76 in Ostrava and the summer was off to the races as the women raced frequently with some two to three woman combination of the above present at most of the major Euro races leading up to Daegu – the only exception being Shelly Ann Fraser who only had two races between Pre and Daegu.

Everyone showed up to Daegu intact, making the World Championships the primary race on the season that it should be – all the main contenders showing up going head to head for gold. While the conditions (negative winds) kept the women from achieving seasons bests, we were treated to a championship caliber competition with the summer’s top performers coming through in the end – Jeter (gold), Campbell Brown (silver), and Baptiste (bronze).

The women gave us a good show all season long, and made ranking them much easier than separating the men. With that, let’s take a look at how the season broke down with my view of the top five women on the season.



#1 Carmelita Jeter United States

Jeter did everything that you would expect of a #1 selection. She had the seasons best record at 11 – 1, her only loss coming to VCB in Shanghai. She had the seasons best time at 10.70- the =7th all-time clocking. Eight times she ran under 11.00, two of them sub 10.80. Several of those meets were in Diamond League competitions as she ran in Shanghai, Eugene, Stockholm, London and Brussels. And of course she ran in Daegu where she upgraded to gold from previous bronze. Making her a clear #1


#2 Veronica Campbell Brown Jamaica

VCB is just as easy a choice for #2, as her season was nearly as solid as Jeter’s. She was 5 – 2 on the season and was the only sprinter to beat Jeter at this distance doing so once, with her only two losses coming at the hands of Jeter in Daegu and Brussels. Everyone else fell victim to her at some point. She had 7 sub 11 clockings in a season that included meets in Shanghai, Paris and Brussels. Only Jeter at #1 stood in her way all season.


#3 Kelly Ann  Baptiste Jamaica

Kelly Ann was another easy choice, as her 5 – 4 record only had losses to Jeter and Campbell Brown – twice finishing second, twice third. She competed in major meets in Paris, London, Berlin and Brussels in addition to her bronze medal in Daegu. With victories in Berlin and Paris she was about the only sprinter to notch victories in races of significance that weren’t named Carmelita or Veronica.


#4 Shelly Ann Fraser Jamaica

Here is where things get a bit difficult, because with the aforementioned women winning everything, everyone else had “negative” seasons as wins were just not there to be had. In the end the World Championships was the main determinant as Fraser’s four meet season resulted in a 1 – 3 record. But a 4th in Eugene, a 3rd in London, and a 4th at Worlds gets her this spot based on finishing only behind those ahead of her on the season.


#5 Kerron Stewart Jamaica

Stewart was better on the clock than Fraser on the year, and her 1 – 7 record found her competing more often while finishing frequently in third place to the top three women in meets in Eugene, Paris, Stockholm and Berlin. Unfortunately for Stewart she didn’t show her best in the biggest meet of the year finishing only 6th at Worlds, and thus finds herself a spot behind Fraser here. I may have had a better argument had she finished in 5th, definitely in 4th, but 6th place was just too much of a fall off when it mattered to rate her higher.

So there it is, my top five in the women’s 100. Next I will take a look at the deuce, first men, then women.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 In Review – Men’s 100 Meters

With the general rankings out of the way, it’s time to start taking a look at individual events. So twixt now and the end of the year, I will look back on several events in between other news and events that come up. I will start with the men’s 100 meters which always lends itself to questions/controversy. Even more so in recent years as we seem to get fewer and fewer matchups among the events top combatants.

The 2011 100 meter season started off like a house afire, with Steve Mullings (JAM) blasting a PR 9.90 in mid-April (16th), then turning that into 9.89 in late May (21st). As June opened up, Mullings (9.80) then Tyson Gay (USA, 9.79) set new world leads within hours of each other on June 4th. And a week later at the NCAA Championships Ngoni Makusha (ZIM) set an NCAA record 9.89 in winning the collegiate title. The only “downer” on the sprints to that point was the slow start of Usain Bolt (JAM) who only had a SB 9.91 up to that point. As by mid-June four men – Mullings, Gay, Mike Rodgers (USA) and Makusha – were jumbled between 9.79 & 9.89 on the yearly list – and FIFTEEN men had broken 10.00 with legal wind!

Then the wheels came off of what was looking to be a banner year in the 100 meters! First Tyson Gay couldn’t answer the bell for U.S. Nationals, and shortly thereafter had hip surgery. Asafa Powell (JAM) would win the Jamaican Trials (10.08, -1.8 after a 9.90 semi) then take over the world lead on June 30 with a 9.78. Then after 9.91 and 9.86 efforts in July, he pulled out of the World Championships because of injury issues – though he returned the week after Worlds to run 9.92 in Zurich.

Powell wasn’t the only athlete to pull out of Worlds however, as Steve Mullings and Mike Rodgers were both forced to withdraw after testing positive in their respective Nationals Championships! A good news/bad news dilemma for the sport on the doping front – good news that they were caught; bad news that high profile athletes (9.80 & 9.85 respectively on the season) were involved. Then just as it seemed that things couldn’t get worse, Usain Bolt – who was already in the midst of a down season for him – showed the lunacy of the current false start rule when he had to bow out of the World Championships final after leaving his blocks a bit too early!

All wasn’t doom and gloom for the event however. The eventual World Champion – after all the suspensions, injuries and fauz paux’ was Yohan Blake (JAM) who became the youngest ever World Champion at the tender age of twenty one. Blake went on to record SB’s of 9.82 in back to back contests in Zurich and Berlin to close out his season. Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, also twenty one, went from being the first white man to run sub10 to a legitimate threat over the distance recording four sub10’s (and four National Records) on his way to an SB 9.92 and a 4th place finish in Daegu.

American Justin Gatlin continued his successful return from his ’06 drug suspension breaking the 10 second barrier twice on his way to a second place finish at the National Championships (9.95) – earning himself a ticket to Daegu. Unfortunately injury issues kept him from having an impact in Daegu. Gatlin’s conqueror at Nationals was Walter Dix, who turned his ticket into silver with his runner up to Blake at the World Championships. And Usain Bolt finally found some form post Daegu, to record a world leading 9.76 in his final meet of the year in Brussels.

The up and down nature of this season made it somewhat difficult to rank, as most of the top athletes during the first part of the season failed to finish the season and/or were unable to cross the line in Daegu for the reasons stated above – Mullings, Rodgers, Gay, Bolt, & Powell. The lack of head to heads among the top athletes only make things more difficult, as only Bolt & Powell went head to head in any that mattered for ranking purposes.

Given all of that, here is my top five for 2011:



Yohan Blake


It may be controversial for some, but I settled on Yohan Blake for #1. Blake had two losses in a nine meet season, but he won the meet that mattered most, the World Championships, to go with a solid sequence of marks. He also avenged his two losses from earlier in the season. Blake gave an indication of things to come when he opened his season with at 9.80w. While others faltered during the season, however, he managed to be at his best when it mattered most, winning in Daegu with daylight between him and the field, then running back to back PR’s of 9.82 to finish the season in high profile races in Zurich and Berlin.



Usain Bolt


Usain Bolt gets the nod at #2. He was undefeated and led the world at 9.76, but made the mistake of false starting out of the final in Daegu. It was Bolt’s fauz paux at Worlds that kept him out of the #1 position, as victory there would have locked up gold to go with his undefeated season. Bolt closed out the year in fine fashion with a 9.85 (Zagreb) & 9.76 WL (Brussels) but with a season of only five finals, and without meeting the World gold & silver medalists can rate no higher.



Walter Dix

United States

Choosing #3 was a bit dicier. At the end of the day, however, I went with the World silver medalist.Dix was 5 – 2  in his 7 meet season, and came away with the silver medal in the biggest meet of the year. His season shows one of the flaws in the Diamond League where only half the events are contested. Dix competed in Doha, Eugene, London and Brussels – but each time in the 200. His only Diamond 100 coming in Zurich.



Asafa Powell


Powell, at #4 was 5 – 3 on the season. He set a WL 9.78 at the end of June, but faded from that point on and missed the World Championships – that cost him another place in the standings, as with arguable an equal season to Dix results wise, the silver medal gives Dix the edge – though Powell did finish a place ahead of him in their only “head to head” in Zurich.



Christophe Lemaitre


I round out my top 5 with World Championships 4th placer Lemaitre. In eleven meets he was 6 – 5, but finished just out of the medals in Daegu and was consistently in the top 3 in every other race he ran except Monaco.

That’s my story and I’m stickin to it. Next I’ll take a look at the women’s side of the 100 meters.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Robert Harting – My 2011 Male Athlete of the Year

Robert Harting - 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships Daegu 2011 - Day FourLooking back over 2011, the sport’s top male athletes had some very interesting seasons. Usain Bolt (JAM) was once again undefeated – though he did false start out of the World Championships 100 meter final. Kirani James (GRN) pulled off an “upset” in Daegu by beating defending champion LaShawn Merritt (USA), and quiet as it’s kept was also undefeated – though most of his races were against collegiate competition. David Rudisha (KEN) just missed being undefeated by .07 sec – losing his final race of the season by little more than the thickness of his vest. And Mo Farah (GBR) almost pulled off the unthinkable, nearly winning double gold in the 5K/10K in Daegu with his 5000m victory and 10,000m silver against strong contingents from the African continent – the best ever double performance by a “non-African” nation competitor in the World Championships! And there was World decathlon champion Tre Hardee (USA) who won the prestigious Gotzis competition in addition to Daegu.

At the end of the day, however, I had to give #1 to a man with an undefeated and nearly flawless season – German discus thrower Robert Harting. From January 29th thru September 17th Harting was perfect – winning 16 straight competitions! In an era where 8 meets seems to be a lot for most elite level athletes, Harting doubled that and won them all! In half of those competitions he threw out over 67 meters (around 220 feet or farther) showing tremendous consistency at an elite level over a nearly eight month period! He was at his best at the World Championships with his winning throw of 68.97m/226’ 3” only .01m off of his SB. He met the top seven discus throwers in the world and defeated them all including at the World Championships where it mattered most. About the only thing that Harting didn’t do was lead the world in distance, but at #2 on the yearly list I can excuse him that. His season was as outstanding as one can get in terms of competing and winning at a high level against the most elite in the world – which is why he’s my #1 for 2011.

My choice for #2 was nearly as easy, as David Rudisha (KEN) once again proved that he is simply the best half miler in the world – and possibly of all time. His world leading 1:41.33 is #5 all time, more impressively however, only surpassed by four WR performances, two his own – and three times he ran under 1:43.00. Among his 10 victories were wins in Lausanne, Monaco, London, Rieti, Brussels, and of course his gold medal run in Daegu. Only in his final race of the year did he falter – his 1:43.57 coming up a scant .07 short of an eleventh win.

My #3 is Usain Bolt (JAM) who repeated as World Champion in the 200 meters with his 19.40 win in Daegu – #5 on the all-time list. Bolt was undefeated, but his level of performance was down for most of the year. He was only #5 in the world in the 100 heading into Daegu, and found himself on the wrong end of a false start in the World Championships final. He also never met 100m World Champion, and 200m yearly leader, Yohan Blake over either distance in 2011. Though undefeated, Bolt’s 10 race season was solid but unspectacular for all but two of them – his Daegu 200 win and his season ending 9.76 world leader.

Number four is Mo Farah (GBR) World gold and silver medalist over 5k & 10k respectively. Farah was the world leader at 5000m (12:53.11), a mark that made him the #2 European ever – and #25 all time. His 26:46.57 over 10,000m was #2 on this year’s list, but moved him up to #15 all time on the world list. In addition to his six races over 5k/10k, Farah threw in a half marathon PB (60:23) and a 10 kilometer run in Edinburgh (29:12), both victories – his only loss on the season being his silver medal performance over 10,000m in Daegu.

Number five was a tough call, but in the end I settled on decathlete Tre Hardee (USA). Hardee won the two top decathlon competitions of any year – Worlds and Gotzis, scoring well over 8600 points on both occasions. He defeated all of the world’s top decathletes, including young superstar Ashton Eaton (USA) who lead the world with his 8729 Trials win. Hardee edges out Kirani James based on level of performance and degree of competition, as James elite season consisted of his four races in London, Daegu, Zurich and Berlin – solid wins but save for one in modest times for the event. Hardee is also my U.S. Athlete of the Year.

Congratulations to Athlete of the Year Robert Harting on an outstanding 2011! Below is his season in detail.


Robert Harting’s 2011 Season – Finals Only

64.02m / 210’ 0” 1 Kienbaum Jan 29
65.94m / 216’ 4” 1 Kienbaum Feb 21
66.92m / 219’ 7” 1 Wiesbaden May 14
68.99m / 226’ 4” 1 Halle May 21
68.23m / 223’ 10” 1 Hengelo May 29
68.40m / 224’ 5” 1 Eugene Jun 4
65.63m / 215’ 4” 1 Stockholm Jun 19
68.51m / 214’ 9” 1 Cottbus Jun 25
67.32m / 220’ 10” 1 Saint-Denis Jul 8
65.72m / 215’ 7” 1 Kassel Jul 24
68.97m / 226’ 3” 1 Daegu Aug 30
67.02m / 219’ 10” 1 Zurich Sep 8
66.50m / 218’ 2” 1 Elstal Sep 9
67.22m / 220’ 6” 1 Berlin Sep 11
65.21m / 213’ 11” 1 Tallinn Sep 15
64.76m / 212’ 5” 1 Bad Kostritz Sep 17

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sally Pearson – My 2011 Female Athlete of the Year

imageIn a year where the women laid it down across the board, this was an extremely difficult decision. There was Betty Heidler (GER), who set the year’s only WR with a new mark in the Hammer. Lashinda Demus (USA) who became #3 all time with her gold medal victory in the 400 hurdles in Daegu. And there was Anna Chicherova (RUS) who moved to =#3 all time in the high jump and defeated Blanka Vlasic during an exciting year.

However, in spite of their outstanding performances and records, they don’t crack the top three – such were the performances at the top of the scale this year. You see, Heidler, Demus and Chicherova all had two losses in a year where perfection was the order of the day. And in 2011 there were three women that were perfect in three very different events.

There was shot putter Valerie Adams (NZL) who became the second farthest shot putter of the New Millenium– in an event where the all-time list is dominated/polluted by the drug ravaged 70’s & 80’s – on her way to an undefeated season and World gold. There was distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) who won both the 5000 & 10,000 in Daegu and became the #3 performer all time in the 5000 during the season. And there was Sally Pearson (AUS), gold medalist in the 100 hurdles, who became the #4 performer all time in Daegu.

The question became: how do you compare perfection? I changed my mind well over a dozen times trying to separate these women into some “order”. In the end I found myself comparing their overall bodies of work and finally selecting – Sally Pearson (AUS). She literally competed all year long as she started sprinting competitively during the Australian summer season at the end of January! She won Australian titles in the 100 & 200 in addition to her specialty 100 meter hurdles.

She completely dominated the hurdle event as she was undefeated up to her final race of the season where she hit a hurdle, went down, and didn’t finish – that “bobble” is my only hesitation in naming her “#1”, as technically it keeps her from being “perfect”. My personal judgment call being that no other woman beat her over the season, and even then she was in a dominant position in the race. For me that was the key because other than that “bobble”, she blew away the field time and time again as she won 10 straight finals! One of those was the World Championships final where she became the 4th fastest hurdler of all time with her sizzling 12.28 win – the fastest performance since 1992 when Lyudmila Engquist (then Narozolenko) won the Olympic title in Barcelona in 12.26 (with a 12.28 semi).

More importantly, it’s the fastest time ever run outside of the “Eastern Bloc” athletes – who were all later admitted to systemized doping. As such this may technically be the fastest ever “legal” time in the event – i.e. potentially a WR without drugs - again, a judgment call on my part. When you are able to compete at the same level as those that came before you that needed enhancement to do so, that was the final tipping point for me.

That’s why right behind her in my estimation is Valerie Adams. Adams was a perfect 13 for 13 on the year and set an Area Record of 21.24m/69’ 8.25”. As stated earlier, that toss was actually the second best of the New Millenium. When compared to the all-time list, however, she is only #22 on the list. Yes I know, splitting hairs, but I needed some way to set them apart.

That means next is Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN), double World Champion in the 5000/10000 in Daegu. Vivian was undefeated in both events – three wins in the 10000, five wins in the 5000. Her 5000 meter win in Stockholm (14:20.87) made her the #3 performer ever with the #4 performance. Only the Ethiopian duo of Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar has run faster. Cheruiyot’s en-route 3000 of 8:38.67 was eight seconds faster than anyone else ran in the open event this year! She won four Diamond League races over 5000, winning in Shanghai, Eugene, Stockholm and Zurich. She doubled over both 5 & 10 in Daegu and won gold in both – only the 2nd gold medal 5/10 double ever at Worlds. However, it’s the volume of her season that leaves her just behind the others as she just didn’t have as full a season as Perason & Adams.

My #4 is Betty Heidler, Germany’s WR setting Hammer thrower. Heidler set a huge WR of 79.42m/260’ 7” in Halle on May 21st in a terrific series (77.19, 76.98, 79.42, 75.34, 75.62, 76.00). This came on the heels of two losses in her first two opening meets. She had a nice 8 meet winning streak, and then lost again in Daegu, before she closed out the year with four more wins. Given her WR, she may have been closer to #1 had she won in Daegu.

In a great year for the women, my #5 is Carmelita Jeter (USA) who had an awesome season in the sprints. In the 100 meters, she was one race short of perfection winning 11 of 12 meets. Those eleven wins included the World title, two legal races under 10.80 (10.70 SB), and eight sub 11’s. Already #2 all time in the 100, only #3 Marion Jones and WR holder Florence Griffith Joyner have run faster than this year’s 10.70. She also gave the 200 meters some serious attention this year, resulting in four legal races under 22.30 (22.20 PR), three wins over Allyson Felix, and the silver medal in Daegu. She’s my highest ranking American and my U.S. Female Athlete of the Year.

So there you have it, my Athlete of the Year on the female side and top five overall. Below is the season in detail for Sally Pearson. Next up, my Male Athlete of the Year.


Sally Pearson’s 2011 Season – Finals Only

100 meters        
11.46 1.6 1 Gold Coast Jan 29
11.35 0.2 1 Brisbane Feb 11
11.57 -1.3 1 Hobart Feb 20
11.52 -1.1 1 Melbourne Mar 3
11.21 0.1 1 Sydney Mar 19
11.20 0.5 1 Perth Mar 31
11.38 -0.6 1 Melbourne Apr 16
11.35 0.6 2 Gold Coast Jun 18
11.21 1.7 1 Gold Coast Jun 25
11.24 -0.1 2 Rieti Sep 10
200 meters        
23.66 -1.8 1 Melbourne Jan 22
23.32 1.5 1 Gold Coast Jan 29
23.05 0.4 1 Brisbane Feb 11
23.60 -0.4 1 Hobart Feb 20
23.36 -0.4 1 Melbourne Mar 3
23.12 -0.2 1 Sydney Mar 19
23.22 -0.5 1 Perth Apr 1
23.20 -1.4 1 Melbourne Apr 17
400 meters        
53.86   1 Gold Coast Jun 4
100 hurdles        
12.85 0.6 1 Perth Mar 31
12.83 -1.1 1 Melbourne Apr 17
12.74 1.1 1 Gold Coast Jun 18
12.47 3.3 1 Lausanne Jun 30
12.48 0.7 1 Birmingham Jul 10
12.51 0.9 1 Monaco Jul 22
12.58 -0.4 1 London Aug 6
12.36 (semi) 0.3 1 Daegu Sep 3
12.28 (final) 1.1 1 Daegu Sep 3
12.52 0.2 1 Zurich Sep 8
12.68 -0.4 1 Zagreb Sep 13
DNF 0.4   Brussels Sep 16

Monday, October 10, 2011

My 2011 #1’s Rankers by Event

imageTime to start wrapping up the season. The Pan American Games are still on tap for the end of the month, but I don’t see them changing anything here – or with most of the post season awards yet to be distributed. So I will start with event #1’s, move on to Athletes of the Year, give a few of my own special awards, then break down several events.

As I’ve lamented a few times since Daegu, 2011 was not a great year for U.S. men. As I went through each event, I could only find place for three #1’s among American men – and none on the track. American women faired slightly better with five #1’s overall – three on the track and two in the field.

While many of the decisions were fairly easy, there were some that were a bit more difficult. For those that I felt some may have question, I have provided a brief explanation following each set of #1’s. Feel free to ask about any you may have questions about and I will gladly give you my rationale.

With that, here are my #1 ranked athletes for the 2011 season.


2011 #1’s by Event – Men

Event Athlete Country
100 meters Yohan Blake JAM
200 meters Usain Bolt JAM
400 meters Kirani James GRN
800 meters David Rudisha KEN
1500 meters Asbel Kiprop KEN
3000 steeplechase Ezekiel Kemboi KEN
5000 meters Mo Farah GBR
10,000 meters Mo Farah GBR
110 hurdles Liu Xiang CHN
400 hurdles David Greene GBR
High Jump Jesse Williams USA
Pole Vault Renaud Lavillenie FRA
Long Jump Mitchell Watt AUS
Triple Jump Christian Taylor USA
Shot Put Dylan Armstrong CAN
Discus Robert Harting GER
Hammer Krisztian Pars HUN
Javelin Andreas Thorkildsen NOR
Decathlon Tre Hardee USA


My Tough decisions:

Men’s 100 – Usain Bolt was undefeated, but never competed against World Champion Blake who in addition to the World title put up impressive numbers and only finished 2nd twice during the year.

Men’s 110 hurdles – Liu Xiang had the year’s 2nd fastest time, had only 1 loss outside the World championships (2nd to Oliver at Pre) and wins in Daegu if not for the impediment.

Men’s 400 hurdles – David Greene was never worse than 3rd and won the World title in Deagu. In a year where every major hurdler had major hiccups and losses, Greene gets my nod.

Men’s Triple Jump – Christian Taylor just won all year. He was the NCAA champion, US champion, and World champion. He had the best mark in the world and became #5 all time. He won major meets in London and Budapest and only had one hiccup all year (in Monaco). Most didn’t know who he was prior to Daegu – now they know. Reminiscent of Sergey Bubka’s debut in 1983.

Men’s Hammer – Koji Murofushi won Worlds and had only one loss – but he only had three meets with two of those at home. Meanwhile Krisztian Pars competed in 23 meets, winning 20 of them and was never worse than 2nd including his silver in Daegu.


2011 #1’s by Event – Women

Event Athlete Country
100 meters Carmelita Jeter USA
200 meters Veronica Campbell Brown JAM
400 meters Amantle Montsho BOT
800 meters Mariya Savinova RUS
1500 meters Morgan Uceny USA
3000 steeplechase Yuliya Zaripova RUS
5000 meters Vivian Cheruiyot KEN
10,000 meters Vivian Cheruiyot KEN
100 hurdles Sally Pearson AUS
400 hurdles Lashinda Demus USA
High Jump Anna Chicherova RUS
Pole Vault Jenn Suhr USA
Long Jump Brittney Reese USA
Triple Jump Olha Saladuha UKR
Shot Put Valerie Adams NZL
Discus Li Yanfeng CHN
Hammer Betty Heidler GER
Javelin Christina Obergfoll GER
Heptathlon Tatyana Chernova RUS


My tough decisions:

Women’s 1500 – Morgan Uceny won the most big races (Brussels, Birmingham, Lausanne) was 2nd in NY, 3rd at Pre & Monaco, and was the world leader on the clock. Her fall in Daegu was her only major blemish, and she was tripped in that race.

Women’s Pole Vault – Jenn Suhr was only 4th in Daegu but she was the yearly leader, defeated gold medalist Murer in London, Stockholm & Zurich, and easily had the best overall record.

Women’s Javelin – Christina Obergfoll was only bronze in Daegu but never less than 2nd the rest of the year. She had the best overall seasonal record including wins over the gold/silver medalists from Daegu.

Friday, October 7, 2011

CAS Got It Right – No Double Jeopardy for the Olympics

While the sport of track and field constantly seems intent on shooting itself in the foot, yesterday the Court of Arbitration in Sport issued a ruling that should help the sport in spite of itself.

The CAS ruling over turns the following IOC Regulation that was instituted on June 27, 2008:

“The IOC Executive Board, in accordance with Rule 19.2.10 OC and pursuant to Rule 45 OC, hereby issues the following rules regarding participation in the Olympic Games:

1. Any person who has been sanctioned with a suspension of more than six months by any anti-doping organization for any violation of any anti-doping regulations may not participate, in any capacity, in the next edition of the Games of the Olympiad and of the Olympic Winter Games following the date of expiry of such suspension.

2. These Regulations apply to violations of any anti-doping regulations that are committed as of 1 July 2008. They are notified to all International Federations, to all National Olympic Committee and to all Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games”.

Basically stating that an individual that has served an anti-doping ban of six months or greater is ineligible to participate in the following Olympic Games. I have felt from the beginning that this constitutes a form of Double Jeopardy – that the athlete is being punished twice for the same offense – which, at least under U.S. law is not allowed.

While the IOC has argued that this regulation does not impose an additional “ban/suspension” but is instead a “condition of eligibility” for the Olympic Games, CAS saw differently. In rendering its decision CAS stated:

8.24 – The IOC Regulation provides for an additional disciplinary sanction (as characterized by the Panel in Part 8(ii) above) after the ineligibility sanction for an anti-doping rule violation under the WADA Code has been served. The Regulation thus provides for a period of ineligibility (non-participation) that is not provided for under Article 10 of the WADA Code. In so doing, the IOC Regulation constitutes a substantive change to the WADA Code, which the IOC has contractually committed itself not to do and which is prohibited by Article 23.2.2 WADA Code.

Interpretation: that the IOC regulation is indeed an additional suspension that is in violation of World Anti-Doping rules!

imageThe immediate results of the ruling is that it will allow LaShawm Merritt to defend his Olympic title in London – should he make the U.S. team which IS a valid condition of participation in the Games. It also opens up the door for Dwain Chambers to challenge his imminent omission from the Olympic Games by the British Olympic Association, as they have taken a position of banning British Athletes from participation in the Olympic Games if they have served past doping suspensions. Chambers may find himself still barred from participation however, as the Olympic Charter allows for each National Olympic Committee to set its own rules as to how it selects its Olympic team. Something to watch as the calendar turns to 2012 – especially given that the Games will be held in Britain.

More long term, however, I would hope that this would bring the IAAF to the table with meet promoters to discuss the Double Jeopardy that meet promoters have placed athletes under with respect to participation in the larger meets “post doping suspension”. Just as myself and many others find it sad that the IAAF limits the ability of athletes to market themselves in pursuit of earning a living – via the ruling that disallows the placement of advertising on athletes uniforms – it is also sad, in my opinion, that athletes may also be precluded from earning lanes, and money in the better meets because of past suspensions.

IF it is the feeling of the sport that those that receive suspensions should no longer participate, then the sport should go to life time bans! If an athlete is not receiving of a lifetime ban however, then punishment received via WADA levied sanctions should be considered fair and substantial punishment. The idea of contracting with a Third Party to both test and levy sanctions in the event of positive tests is to take ANY partiality that either the federations or the governing body (IAAF) may have in the matter. It is not up to the sport to decide “winners and losers” in this regard, nor to exact additional punishments based upon the “feelings” or “partialities” of any of the parties involved in the sport – local federations, anti-doping agencies, governing body personnel, meet promoters or any others associated with the sport that may have vested interests. This serves to protect both the integrity of the sport, unless usurped, as well as the best interests of the athletes.

I know that many feel that “lifetime” bans are what is needed to “clean up” the sport. Understanding that “lifetime” bans would almost certainly require adherence to some sort of “strict liability” rules, this past World Championships could have been without: Yohan Blake, LaShawn Merritt, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Christine Uhuruogu, Dwain Chambers, Justin Gatlin, and Daniel Bailey, among others. If you can live with that, fine, if not perhaps the cry for “lifetime” bans needs a bit more thought.

Personally I could go with “lifetime” bans IF the sport provides transparency in its anti-doping program to ensure that the athletes have adequate representation/protection AND that a proper drug testing program is FULLY implemented – blood testing in conjunction with blood passports for ALL athletes – run through WADA without outside interference. Something I will be discussing in greater detail during the off season.

Today, however, I applaud the CAS decision as it is a good first step in bringing some order to the anti-doping movement.