Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin

Tyson Gay vs. Justin Gatlin; Lausanne Diamond League preview

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It is the most anticipated 100m race so far this season, and Usain Bolt is nowhere to be found.

Tyson Gay will compete for the first time since the end of his one-year doping suspension at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. He will do so against Justin Gatlin, the World Championships silver medalist who is undefeated this season.

Gay is the fastest American of all time, and Gatlin is tied as the second fastest with a stated of goal of taking Gay’s American record.

Never were Gay and Gatlin closer on the track than at the London Olympics. In the 4x100m relay final, Gatlin passed the baton and the lead to Gay for the third leg. That edge evaporated on Gay’s turn, wiped by Yohan Blake, who handed off to anchor Usain Bolt for a victory in world-record fashion.

The U.S. earned an appreciated silver, equaling the previous world record. Gay, who would have been a 2008 Olympic podium favorite if not for injury, felt particularly fulfilled to hold his first medal.

“That’s the part of my heart that was missing,” Gay said two years ago. “I think I finally filled it.”

But Gay gave up that silver medal to the U.S. Olympic Committee because it was won after he began taking performance-enhancing drugs. The rest of the U.S. relay team may be stripped of theirs as well. That includes Gatlin, who has four other Olympic medals to soften the blow.

Gatlin himself likely ceded more Olympic glory due to doping. He was banned four years from 2006 to 2010.

“There’s still a lot of pressure on [Gay] coming back,” Gatlin told the BBC in June. “People have more questions than answers — why his time [suspended] has been so short.”

Gay and Gatlin may not be the biggest story to come out of the meet, whose coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com. Here are the start lists. Here are five events to watch:

Men’s 400m — 2:03 p.m. ET

LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James renew their rivalry. They clocked identical 43.97s at the Prefontaine Classic on May 31 with James outleaning Merritt for the win to take a 6-5 edge in their career duels.

They’re the only men to go sub-44 this year, or any of the last five years for that matter.

Men’s high jump — 2:25

The world record is in jeopardy again. Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, World champion Bohdan Bondarenko and Olympic and World medalist Mutaz Barshim have all cleared 2.41m or higher this year. The world record from 1993 is 2.45m.

Bondarenko and Barshim took a combined five attempts at breaking the world record at the last Diamond League meet in New York but failed on every one at 2.46m.

Women’s 100m — 2:28

American Tori Bowie, the new sensation of the sprint season, was still on the start list 27 hours before the scheduled race despite appearing to suffer a leg injury at the U.S. Championships. Bowie, almost exclusively a long jumper until March, hurt herself on a 10.91-second semifinal and pulled out of the final Friday. That was the fastest time of the meet and Bowie’s first time clocking sub-11.

Bowie, the world leader in the 200m, is set to face the only two women faster than her in the 100m this year — Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (10.85) and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.86).

UPDATE: Campbell-Brown pulled out of the meet Wednesday due to a sore hamstring, according to her Twitter.

Men’s 100m — 2:58

Gatlin must be considered the favorite over Gay since there’s no telling what kind of form Gay is in. Though Gatlin is undefeated in 2014, he is not the fastest man this year. That’s Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson, who has run 9.82 to Gatlin’s 9.86 but is not in the Lausanne field.

The best from the rest is Mike Rodgers, who won the U.S. Championship last week (Gatlin and Gay were not in that field).

Men’s 200m — 3:43

Jamaican Yohan Blake would have added sizzle to the 100m, but as is the norm the world’s best sprinters are split up. Blake is coming off an awful 10.21 in the 100m in New York on June 14, when he stumbled out of the blocks in his Diamond League season debut.

This will mark his first Diamond League 200m in nearly two years, given Blake missed almost all of last season with a hamstring injury. His top competition will be Jamaican 100m champion Nickel Ashmeade and 2009 World silver medalist Alonso Edward.

Usain Bolt will race at Commonwealth Games, report says

Sage Kotsenburg will not defend Olympic slopestyle title

Sage Kotsenburg
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Sage Kotsenburg, the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, will not defend his title in PyeongChang and is finished with contest riding.

Kotsenburg, 23, said he chose to devote the rest of his career to filming snowboarding movies rather than competing. It’s a common transition in the sport, but an unusual one for a reigning Olympic gold medalist.

“It had been on my mind since literally the day I won in Sochi,” said Kotsenburg, who last competed in early 2016. “I had my heart set on stopping competing after the Olympics, and then winning puts you in such a different mindset. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do anymore. I was on a high, so pumped on competing. I would get to the contests [after Sochi], and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t have the edge to try this new trick anymore. All the time, I’m looking at [social media] posts from other people riding in Switzerland and Whistler [Canada] filming backcountry. I thought, I want to be there right now.

“I finally said to myself, I’ve got to do what makes me happy. Competing doesn’t make me happy right now.”

Kotsenburg said relief flooded over him after telling sponsors — including Oakley, Monster, GoPro and Stance socks — he would not ride in competition anymore. He wanted to know if they would stick with him during his filming career, but he understood if they felt otherwise.

“Each one of them said we’re happy to have you on board and keep it going,” he said. “After I told them, it was so much pressure off my chest. I knew I could just go snowboarding again.”

Growing up in Park City, Kotsenburg was fixated more on snowboarding movies than following contests. Though he’ll never forget watching the U.S. sweep the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic men’s halfpipe and then meeting Ross PowersDanny Kass and J.J. Thomas as an 8-year-old.

Kotsenburg was truly a surprise Olympic champion in 2014, taking gold after going into his first Winter Games with a goal to “make snowboarding look cool.” The Park City native later said President Obama told him, “Sage, this guy was like the favorite moment of the Games.”

“Looking back on it in 30 or 40 years, I’ll remember all the hard work and stress and craziness that went into it,” Kotsenburg said. “It was so worth it in the end. It’s something that’s made me who I am today. I think about it every day.”

Kotsenburg was at best inconsistent at the Winter X Games before and after his Sochi breakout — fifth in 2010, 10th in 2011, second in 2012, 13th in 2013, 15th in 2014, fifth in 2015 and 10th in 2016. Kotsenburg’s win at the last U.S. Olympic qualifier in January 2014 marked his first trip to the top of a slopestyle podium in about nine years.

In Sochi, Kotsenburg took gold by landing a cab double cork 1260 with a Kotsenburg-invented Holy Crail grab and a back 1620 Japan Air, trying the latter trick for the first time in his life (he hasn’t tried it since). The rider known as “Second-Run Sage” did it on his first run, scoring 93.5 points.

After the Olympics, Kotsenburg capitalized on his gold. He ate a bacon gold medal given to him by Conan O’Brien, listened to Obama call him “sick and chill” and took his gold medal out of a white sock on “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer.

“Being backstage on Letterman, I was tripping,” he said. “Craziest one was definitely going to the White House and meeting Obama was insane. He said he watched the Olympics, and I had the chillest and most relaxed interview he had ever seen.”

Kotsenburg said he still needs to get a proper box to store his medal. He joked he might rather buy a manikin and hang it around its neck along with some cool outerwear.

Before what would have been the last contest of his career, Kotsenburg essentially suffered a concussion at Fenway Park in training at a big air event in February 2016. Kotsenburg said the head injury was very minor and that it did not factor into his retirement decision.

Kotsenburg spent all last winter riding in Alaska, Wyoming, Lake Tahoe, Utah and Whistler for a Snowboarder Magazine film called “Pepper.”

He plans to ride more this winter for his own film project and possibly attend the Olympics in a non-competitive capacity. 

The top slopestyle snowboarders going into PyeongChang are Canadians Mark McMorrisMax Parrot and Tyler Nicholson, Norwegians Marcus Kleveland and Stale Sandbech and American Red Gerard.

Gerard, 16, has known Kotsenburg for several years and once wore the Sochi gold medal.

“I hope [Gerard] comes home with a medal, even gold,” Kotsenburg said. “He’s got such awesome style and really respects the background of snowboarding. He’s been filming, too, and really respects that type of snowboarding. Which I respect a lot.”

MORE: Kelly Clark hopes to add one more Olympic bib to historic wall

Review: USA Gymnastics needs ‘culture change’ to stop abuse

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USA Gymnastics needs a “complete cultural change” to better protect athletes from sexual abuse, according to an independent review of the embattled organization’s practices.

The 44-page report released Tuesday by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels recommends that all USA Gymnastics members be required to immediately report suspected sexual misconduct to legal authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

Daniels also suggested that USA Gymnastics prohibit adults from being alone with minor gymnasts “at all times” and bar unrelated adults from sharing or being alone in a sleeping room with gymnasts. She also recommended preventing adult members from having “out of program” contact with gymnasts through email, text or social media.

USA Gymnastics ordered the review last fall following a series of civil lawsuits filed against the organization and a former team doctor by a pair of gymnasts who claim the physician sexually abused them during their time on the U.S. national team. USA Gymnastics has denied wrongdoing.

The organization stated it went to authorities quickly in the summer of 2015 after hearing claims of abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar but later amended the timeline following a Wall Street Journal report, saying it conducted a five-week internal review before going to the FBI.

“A delay is impermissible,” Daniels said.

A Michigan judge on Friday ordered Nassar to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries. It is one of four criminal cases against Nassar in the state.

Daniels said USA Gymnastics “inadvertently suppressed” reporting of abuse because of several factors, including that athletes are taught to follow instructions and obey coaches and trainers.

“Athletes sometimes aren’t aware of where the boundaries are, so they’re not trained in that regard,” Daniels said. “Parents aren’t real sure (either).”

Daniels said the organization needs to more closely monitor member clubs to make sure its bylaws are followed. She suggested stripping membership from clubs that fail to report claims of child abuse, plus periodic random audits to see if updated policies are being obeyed.

“USA Gymnastics has never felt it had the ability to exert influence over the club,” Daniels said. “You can use membership to enforce the policies.”

The USA Gymnastics Board of Directors unanimously voted to develop a plan to implement many of Daniels’ 70 recommendations.

“We’re confident it will make us a better organization to develop a culture that had safe sport as a top priority,” said chief operating officer Ron Galimore.

Daniels said the process USA Gymnastics had for investigating claims of abuse was “cumbersome” and “somewhat mysterious.” She suggested a more proactive approach.

“There needs to be a very clear protocol for how these reviews are conducted, there needs to be a clear timeline,” she said. “Frankly they need to be kept in a database. We’ve recommended that the board have oversight of that entire process.”

While also taking the role of the USA Gymnastics president out of the equation. Former president Steve Penny resigned in March under intensifying pressure for the way the organization handled charges of sexual abuse. Daniels wants USA Gymnastics to remove the president from determining the disposition of allegations. USA Gymnastics is in the process of finding Penny’s replacement and hopes to have a successor in place by September.

Whoever is hired will have plenty of work to do.

Many of the recommendations fall in line with policies put forward by the U.S. Center for Safesport. The organization operates independently from the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizations governing Olympic sports. The USOC and the 47 national governing bodies (including USA Gymnastics) help fund the center — about $13.3 million over five years — but do not have any say over how it operates or the cases it investigates.

Paul Parilla, chairman of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, said the organization needs to “clearly articulate” that the safety of the athletes is “paramount.”

Galimore said it is a priority to make sure “everyone is aware and educated on everything from bullying to anything that would take away from having a safe environment.”

Daniels spoke to more than 160 people at all levels of USA Gymnastics over six months, attended five competitions and visited the national team’s training center at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, to produce the 144 page report. She said the number of gymnasts abused nationwide over the years is “far higher” than what has been reported based on her experience as a federal prosecutor but stressed “my recommendations are forward looking and not in relation to anything that may have happened in the past.”

She also believes third parties should be allowed to report suspected abuse. The previous method of looking into alleged wrongdoing — a “grievance process” which required a written complaint from the aggrieved party or the parents of the aggrieved party if the athlete was a minor — was not well suited for reporting abuse, the report said.

“Young athletes (in their teens or younger) and their parents are highly unlikely to report ongoing abuse to the authority that has so much power over the athlete’s success in the sport,” Daniels wrote.

MORE: Ex-USA Gym doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

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