Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton near world record pace at World Indoors; wife wins silver

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The first day of the World Indoor Championships was good to husband and wife Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

The American Eaton took a 70-point lead in the heptathlon in Sopot, Poland, on Friday, one point shy of his world record pace set at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. The Canadian Theisen-Eaton won silver in the pentathlon.

The first U.S. medal was gold, to shot putter Ryan Whiting who defended his 2012 World Indoor title.

The Olympic decathlon champion Eaton reportedly multi-tasked at ERGO Arena, cheering on Theisen-Eaton in her final pentathlon event, the 800m, while in between high jumps in the fourth of seven events in his heptathlon.

Theisen-Eaton finished 62 points behind winner Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands. American Sharon Day-Monroe finished six points out of bronze.

Eaton had the best 60m and long jump in the heptathlon and was fourth in the shot put and third in the high jump. He’s in line to win his fourth straight major multi-event championship with three events to go Saturday.

Whiting, who also won silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, prevailed with a 22.05-meter throw to beat two-time reigning World Outdoor champion David Storl of Germany.

American Marvin Bracy overcame a slow start in the 60m to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in 6.60 seconds. Bracy, 20 and a former Florida State football recruit, is seen as a medal favorite given he’s the fastest man in the world this year among competitors in Sopot.

“It’s my first World Championships and it’s not something I’m used to,” Bracy said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Normally I just show up a day before a championship and run, but this is different.

“I concentrated on my preparations for the race so much that I actually wasn’t paying attention to when the gun went off, that’s why my start was so bad.

“I don’t feel much pressure, I’m just 20 so I know that even if I don’t do as well as I’m expected to, I’ve got a lot of World Championships left in my career.”

Other medal contenders Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers (6.57) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (6.58) also advanced.

Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson of Australia was the fastest qualifier into the 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and faster than any other woman in the field has ever run.

Americans Nia Ali and Janay DeLoach Soukup also made the 16-woman semifinals set for Saturday.

In the men’s 800m, World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds failed to advance out of his heat and then said it was the final indoor race of his career.

“I’m not in that point in my season where I have that speed to get out,” Symmonds, 30, told reporters. “It [indoors] doesn’t suit me very well. As much fun as I’ve had out here, I think, for me, personally, obviously you’ve seen the last three or four seasons when I skip the indoor season, the long buildup works better for me in the summer [outdoors].”

All of the contenders advanced to Sunday’s men’s 3000m final, including Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Lagat, 39, is the two-time defending 3000m champion and the oldest athlete at the meet.

Both Americans also made the women’s 3000m final, Shannon Rowbury and Gabriele Grunewald. Grunewald was controversially disqualified and then reinstated as the U.S. 3000m champion last week. Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite in the 3000m.

American Lopez Lomong, the Sudan-born 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, failed to advance out of the 1500m heats.

U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 400m final Saturday. Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic failed to make the men’s 400m final, while Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon of Trindad and Tobago made it in only after another man was disqualified.

World Indoor Championship broadcast schedule

USOPC seeks to revoke USA Badminton’s status

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U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland filed a complaint to revoke USA Badminton’s status as the national governing body for the sport, a year after a USOPC audit found the organization lacked athlete safety requirements.

USA Badminton “failed to meet its responsibilities as an NGB and consistently failed to meet its obligations to its members and to U.S. athletes,” according to the USOPC. “Further, USAB has failed to conduct itself in a manner that demonstrates it can fulfill those responsibilities.”

Asked for reaction, USA Badminton interim CEO Linda French said, “I’m very disappointed in the USOPC and the conduct of their staff.”

USA Badminton recently had mass resignations among its board and top officials amid governance issues and the USOPC threatening decertification. A 2018 USOPC audit found four “high risk” areas in USA Badminton’s athlete safety and SafeSport compliance that, by March, had not been fully resolved.

“We have attempted to work with USAB’s leadership over the course of the last year to address our concerns, however those efforts have not yielded the results necessary to give me confidence in USAB’s ability to continue to serve its athletes as an NGB,” Hirshland wrote. “We remain committed to working with USAB’s leadership to address our concerns but have so far not found a willing partner.”

The next step is for Hirshland to appoint an independent panel to hear the complaint. There is no specific timeline for a resolution, though Hirshland said it will take a minimum of several weeks.

If USA Badminton’s status is revoked, the USOPC would assume control on an interim basis.

Last November, the USOPC filed the same complaint against USA Gymnastics, seeking to revoke its status after the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes came to light followed by several leadership changes.

USA Gymnastics since filed for bankruptcy and named former college gymnast and NBA executive Li Li Leung its new CEO in February. It remains the sport’s NGB with eight months until the Tokyo Olympics.

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Sun Yang should get lengthy ban if he loses doping hearing, WADA says

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency wants China’s star swimmer Sun Yang banned for up to eight years for alleged doping rules violations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday ahead of a rare appeal hearing in open court on Friday that WADA requests a ban of two to eight years. Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 for a positive test.

If WADA wins, the three-time Olympic freestyle champion will miss the Tokyo Games.

WADA has challenged world swimming body FINA’s ruling to merely warn Sun after a disputed attempt by sample collectors to take blood and urine from him at his home in China in September 2018. The late-night confrontation lasted from 11 p.m. to beyond 3:30 a.m.

The day-long hearing will examine why a secure box storing a glass vial of blood came to be destroyed by Sun’s entourage, who questioned the sample team’s authority. A FINA tribunal panel agreed the officials lacked proper credentials to make the sample collection valid.

WADA believes Sun broke anti-doping rules by refusing to submit to a sample collection.

All sides agreed to Sun’s request to hold a first CAS appeal in public for 20 years.

A verdict is unlikely until early next year.

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