Absel Kiprop

Monaco Diamond League on world record watch; preview

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The eyes of track and field will be on Kenyan Asbel Kiprop in Monaco on Friday.

The Kenyan World champion is expected to take a run at the 1500m world record in a Diamond League meet, a 16-year-old mark held by the greatest middle distance runner of all time, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.

El Guerrouj set the mark of 3 minutes, 26 seconds on July 14, 1998. Kiprop ran 3:27.72 in Monaco last year to become the fourth fastest man of all time and spark talk of challenging 3:26.

The last Olympic track event to see a world record fall was the 110m hurdles, with Olympic champion Aries Merritt breaking it on Sept. 7, 2012.

The men’s 1500m will be the marquee event at the 10th of 14 Diamond League meets this season, but other stars are in action (broadcast coverage starts at 2 p.m. ET on Universal Sports).

Here are five events to watch (all times Eastern):

Women’s pole vault — 1:45 p.m.

Olympic champion Jenn Suhr‘s switch to a carbon pole yielded defeats in her first two Diamond League meets. Both were won by Brazilian Fabiana Murer, who may be positioning herself as the 2016 Olympic host nation’s best hope for a track and field gold medal.

Monaco will see Suhr take on not only Murer but also Olympic and World medalist Yarisley Silva of Cuba and seven of the top eight pole vaulters this year overall.

Men’s high jump — 2:05

The other world record watch comes in an event where the mark has been under pressure all season. All the usual contenders convene in Monaco — World champion Bohdan Bondarenko, Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, World silver medalist Mutaz Barshim, Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard and Olympic bronze medalist Derek Drouin.

The world record, set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor in 1993, is 2.45m. Bondarenko and Barshim have cleared 2.42m this year (and attempted and failed at world record heights). Ukhov has cleared 2.41m, Drouin 2.4m and Kynard 2.37m.

Men’s 1500m — 2:35

Kiprop’s competition makes it no certainty he will win the race, let alone challenge El Guerrouj’s world record.

It includes the reigning Olympic and World silver medalists — Americans Leo Manzano and Matthew Centrowitz — as well as 2011 World silver medalist Kenyan Silas Kiplagat and 800m World bronze medalist Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti.

Women’s 100m — 2:45

This event is more wide open than at any time since the London Olympics. Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hasn’t broken 11.1 this year, hampered by injury.

Instead, the world’s fastest women have been Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, who are separated by 10 years in age.

Ahye is not in the Monaco field, but Fraser-Pryce and Campbell-Brown are. As are Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and the fastest American this year, Tori Bowie, who has been sidelined by injury since running a personal best 10.91 at the U.S. Championships on June 27.

Men’s 200m — 3:35

Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay meet for the second time since the end of Gay’s doping suspension, but this time it’s over 200m, which Gatlin rarely races.

Gatlin and Gay won’t have to worry about the Jamaicans who swept the Olympic medals — Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir — but the field does include World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell and Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, the only man in the field who has run sub-20 this year.

Photos: Lindsey Vonn, Roger Federer play tennis in the Alps

WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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