New York Times details rhythmic gymnastics judging cheating scandal

Rhythmic Gymnastics
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An International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) investigation into suspected cheating in exams for prospective rhythmic gymnastics judges included “crude markups, blatant copying” and “unexplained bonus points,” reports the New York Times.

The newspaper obtained much of the investigation’s findings, “spanning hundreds of pages,” from the FIG investigation.

Last week, the FIG expelled the lead rhythmic gymnastics official from the London Olympics and suspended six other technical committee members after “irregularities” were found at international judges’ courses last fall.

The newspaper reports the scandal implicates as many as 60 people.

The documents showed that in Bucharest, Romania, test takers clearly copied answers from one anothers’ papers, including the mistakes. In Moscow, 114 answers were changed on dozens of tests; in Alicante, Spain, 257 answers were changed.

The exam sheets themselves served as evidence of the suspected cheating — crude markups, blatant copying, unexplained bonus points — that proved as clumsy as a botched rhythmic routine.

One test clearly had been touched by more than one person — it was filled with at least two different handwriting styles, the report said. The documents provided no evidence that the suspected cheating had affected any results in athletic competitions.

Questionable judging has long been a part of artistic gymnastics, but it’s a common problem in rhythmic as well. An even bigger one, it appears.

“Judging issues in rhythmic gymnastics are almost as prolific as doping issues in cycling,” Australian rhythmic gymnast Janine Murray, who retired after the London Olympics, told the newspaper.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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