track and field

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 03:  Michael Phelps of the United States speaks with the media during a press conference at the Main Press Centre ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 3, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Michael Phelps to testify at congressional anti-doping hearing

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Michael Phelps is one of five witnesses called to testify at a congressional hearing looking at ways to improve the international anti-doping system in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Phelps will be joined by:

Adam Nelson, 2004 U.S. Olympic shot put champion
Travis Tygart, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO
Dr. Richard Budgett, IOC Medical and Scientific Director
Rob Koehler, World Anti-Doping Agency Deputy Director General

The list was first reported by USA Today  and confirmed Wednesday night.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is examining the state of the international anti-doping system, challenges it faces and ways it can be improved before the 2018 Olympics.

“The Olympic Games represent the greatest athletes in the world, and we want to preserve the integrity of competition, and ensure clean sport,” subcommittee chairman Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said in a press release. “This will be an important discussion to protect the revered distinction both the Olympics Games and their world class athletes hold.”

None of Phelps’ major results — 28 Olympic medals, 33 World Championships medals — have been impacted by the known doping of others.

But in Rio, he praised teammate Lilly King‘s criticisms of athletes competing who had previously served doping punishments. Phelps doubted he had ever competed in a clean sport.

“I think you’re going to probably see a lot of people speaking out more,” Phelps said in Rio, according to The Associated Press. “I think [King] is right, I think something needs to be done. It’s kind of sad today in sports in general, not just in swimming, there are people who are testing positive who are allowed back in the sport and multiple times. It kind of breaks what sport is meant to be and that’s what pisses me off.”

Nelson originally took silver in the 2004 Olympic shot put. Nine years later, he was upgraded to gold after Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog was stripped for doping. He received his gold medal at an Atlanta airport food court, reportedly at a table in front of a Chinese restaurant.

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VIDEO: Phelps plays raucous 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale

Shalane Flanagan withdraws from Boston Marathon

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13:  Third place finisher of the women's race Shalane Flanagan approaches the finish during the U.S Olympic Marathon Team Trials on February 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan will miss the Boston Marathon in April due to a fracture in her back that will keep her out four to six weeks, according to race officials.

Flanagan, 35, was part of a Boston field that included five of the six U.S. Olympic marathon runners from Rio. She was the top American in the Rio women’s marathon, placing sixth.

Flanagan, who grew up in Marblehead, Mass., raced Boston in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Her best Boston finish was fourth in 2013, the year the race was rocked by twin bombings.

The Boston women’s field includes Desi Linden, who was seventh in Rio and the last U.S. woman to make the Boston podium. Linden was second in 2011, two seconds behind Kenyan winner Caroline Kilel.

This year’s international women’s field in Boston includes:

Atsede Baysa (ETH), 2016 Boston winner
Gladys Cherono 
(KEN), 2015 Berlin winner
Buzunesh Deba (ETH), 2014 Boston winner and course-record holder
Edna Kiplagat 
(KEN), two-time world champion and winner of marathons in London and New York City
Caroline Rotich (KEN), 2015 Boston winner

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Justin Gatlin reflects on career in ‘Rise Again’ documentary

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Justin Gatlin of the United States celebrates after the Men's 100 meter final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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The heaving, uncontrollable sobs have occurred twice for Justin Gatlin. Once, for a failed drug test in his prime that led to a stay in track’s version of purgatory. The other, over a .01-second slipup that he’ll never get over.

Say this much for the controversial sprinter: His life has certainly been filled with peaks and valleys, which he reveals in an hour-long documentary titled “Rise Again — The Justin Gatlin Story.”

Gatlin reflects on his ascent to the top, a fall from grace after a 2006 doping ban that left him so depressed he contemplated wrapping his car around a tree and a return to the spotlight to become Usain Bolt‘s biggest adversary. Not to mention a race Gatlin would give anything to have back — the 100m at world championships in 2015, when he leaned too soon and Bolt beat him by .01 seconds.

“Life is fun. And it’s beautiful. But it’s cold. Cutthroat. Nasty,” Gatlin said in the opening sequence of a movie produced by Andrew Brereton and screened Thursday in Gatlin’s hometown of Pensacola, Florida. “I’ve witnessed both.”

Gatlin’s purpose in making the film was simple: Show fans and detractors what makes him tick.

“It’s a window into that kind of realm that no one has ever seen,” the 35-year-old Gatlin said in a phone interview. “A way for me to get that rawness out there.”

Following two gold medals at the 2005 world championships, Gatlin tested positive for excessive testosterone at the Kansas Relays in 2006. His dad signed for the certified letter from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and called his son.

The father simply comforted him.

After a long stretch of arbitration and court hearings, Gatlin received an eight-year ban that was later reduced to four.

During his exile, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion went through a wide range of emotions, including thoughts of suicide. He struggled to find work (he tried out for several NFL teams). He collected unemployment. His weight even ballooned so much that when he did return, he was kiddingly called “Dough Boy.”

“At the top, I was flying high. I didn’t understand what it meant to be down and out,” Gatlin said in the film. “What I went through in those four years, it makes me, in a way, a poster child. I’ve been to the top, to eat filet mignon, to have sweets, traveling around the world, having everything at your fingertips, to being embarrassed just to walk around in society.”

That’s exactly the emotion Brereton wanted to capture.

Brereton and his company, Neomotion Films, traveled around with Gatlin, shooting more than 80 hours of footage. The crew interviewed Gatlin’s parents, a string of coaches from over the years, agent/renown hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, friends and family members.

The film producer was initially drawn to Gatlin’s story because usually when convicted dopers serve a lengthy ban, they don’t come back. If they do, they’re rarely faster than what they were. Before his ban, Gatlin tied a then 100m world record of 9.77 seconds, a run that came weeks after his positive test and has since been erased.

In 2015, Gatlin went 9.74.

“That throws a bigger monkey wrench into the situation, because people don’t know how to react,” Brereton said. “Their first reaction is like, ‘OK, something’s not right. He already has the history. I don’t believe it.’ But I always say, ‘Why don’t you believe?’

“They say, ‘Because it’s never been done before.’ I say, ‘So that means it can’t be done?’ … Track is interesting like that.”

Some of the movie’s intriguing scenes:

— As a kid, Gatlin used to outrace his friends — him on foot, them on bikes.

— His first love was hurdles in high school. He was so fast that one time in a 300m hurdles race, he opened up a big lead, saw a teammate fall down, went back to help him up and still went on to win the competition.

— Gatlin talked to kids all over the country about anti-doping on his return to track from his ban. “Some say he didn’t apologize?” Nehemiah said. “That was his apology tour — to all these kids that looked up to him.”

— At the starting line in races after returning from his ban, Gatlin said: “People saw me, and the look in their eyes was like they saw a ghost.”

The race that haunts him is that 100 showdown with Bolt in ’15. Gatlin thought that was his moment in Beijing, his race to win.

It wasn’t. He broke into tears on the ride back to his hotel.

“I could’ve run that race, that sloppy race, anywhere else in the world and still won,” said Gatlin, who captured Olympic bronze at the 2012 London Games and silver four years later in Rio de Janeiro. “I allowed myself to get beat and I beat myself. That’s the worst feeling in the world.”

Throughout the movie, Gatlin kept his composure. This, though, brought him to tears: Talking about his young son.

“In kindergarten, he’s drawing pictures of me on top of podiums, with medals on,” Gatlin said. “He loves me for me. He’s so proud of me. … It’s way better than being on top of 100 podiums.

“Way better.”

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