Sanya Richards-Ross

IAAF World Relays schedule, broadcast times, preview

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With no outdoor World Championships or Olympics this year, the IAAF will introduce a new international event, the World Relays, this weekend.

The world’s greatest track nations — from sprinting to middle-distance running — convene in Nassau, Bahamas for events Saturday and Sunday. The World Relays are scheduled to remain in the Bahamas in 2015 and likely to go on a two-year cycle after that, according to Reuters.

The U.S. and Jamaica will be the anticipated head-to-head matchups in sprints. The Bahamas, Russia, Kenya and Ethiopia enter the mix as the distances rise to 4x1500m relays.

Universal Sports will have live TV coverage at 6:30 each night and online coverage at 6:15.

Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

Saturday
5:30 p.m. — Men’s 4x200m heats
5:49 — Women’s 4x100m heats
6:15 — Men’s 4x800m FINAL
6:40 — Women’s 4x400m heats
7:12 — Men’s 4x400m heats
7:45 — Women’s 4x1500m FINAL
8:16 — Men’s 4x200m FINAL
8:42 — Women’s 4x100m FINAL

Sunday
5:30 p.m. — Women’s 4x200m heats
5:49 — Men’s 4x100m heats
6:26 — Women’s 4x400m FINAL
6:48 — Men’s 4x1500m FINAL
7:19 — Women’s 4X800m FINAL
7:52 — Men’s 4x400m FINAL
8:11 — Women’s 4x200m FINAL
8:37 — Men’s 4x100m FINAL

Here’s a look at each event:

Women’s 4x100m

Jamaica is the clear favorite here with a team that includes the reigning Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Kerron Stewart. In fact, it could field the same quartet that won the 2013 World Championship in a meet-record time.

The U.S. holds the world record in the 4x100m from the 2012 Olympics, but only Tianna Bartoletta returns from that team. Olympic sprint medalists Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter are among the Americans not in Nassau.

Men’s 4x100m

Likewise, Jamaica is a favorite in the men’s 4x100m, even without Usain Bolt, since the U.S. is missing its top sprinters from last year’s World Championships and Olympics. The Jamaicans boast three-quarters of their world-record team from the 2012 Olympics — Yohan BlakeNesta Carter and Michael Frater.

The U.S. is without Justin GatlinTyson Gay and Ryan Bailey, who went three-four-five in the 2012 Olympic 100m final. However, they return the fourth man from the Olympic 4x100m final silver-medal team, Trell Kimmons, and three-quarters of the 2013 World Championships final team that won silver — Mike RodgersMookie Salaam and Charles Silmon. There’s also the rising Marvin Bracy, who won 60m silver at the World Indoor Championships in March.

Women’s 4x200m

Fraser-Pryce is also eligible for the 4x200m relay, and she says she’s focusing more on the half-lap distance this year after winning Olympic silver and World Championships gold the last two seasons. But the rest of the Jamaican 4x200m pool is not near her league (maybe nobody else in the world is, actually), giving the U.S. a chance.

Five different U.S. women made the Olympic and World Championships 200m finals over the last two years, but none of them are in the World Relays 4x200m pool. Still, the Americans boast reigning national champion Kimberlyn Duncan, proven veterans Bianca Knight and Shalonda Solomon and Tori Bowie, whose 22.57 this year is faster than any member of Jamaica’s pool who doesn’t have two hyphens in her name.

Men’s 4x200m

Jamaica must prove its depth here to beat the U.S., since Bolt is out and Blake is only in the 4x100m pool. That leaves Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist Warren Weir to carry the load, along with Nickel Ashmeade (fourth at worlds) and Jason Livermore (worlds semifinalist).

The U.S. put one man in the 200m final at each of the last three major outdoor championships. All of them are in the pool to challenge Jamaica — 2011 world silver medalist Walter Dix, 2012 Olympic fourth-place finisher Wallace Spearmon and 2013 world bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell.

Women’s 4x400m

This event has seen some close finishes between the U.S. and Russia over the last several years, but it shouldn’t be that way in Nassau.

The field is headlined by Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who is working her way back from injury. The U.S. pool also includes Olympic 400m bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter and Natasha Hastings and Jessica Beard from last year’s World Championships silver-medal team.

Russia brings back zero members of its 2013 World Championships gold-medal-winning team. That opens the door for Great Britain, with reigning world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, and Jamaica.

Men’s 4x400m

This is the marquee event for the host nation, given the Bahamas won the Olympic 4x400m in London. Its entire team from London is back for this meet.

The U.S., a usual favorite in the 4x400m, boasts a group that includes reigning world 400m champion LaShawn Merritt and three-quarters of the team that won the 2013 World Championships final (which the Bahamas did not qualify for) and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor.

Women’s 4x800m

This is another event Russia is deep in, but the top Russians over the last few years are not entered. The U.S. put three women in the 2013 World Championships 800m final, and two of them are in Nassau — bronze medalist Brenda Martinez and sixth-place Ajee’ Wilson — as well as World Indoor 800m champion Chanelle Price.

The U.S.’ top competition could come from Kenya, which is better in longer distances but fields reigning world 800m champion Eunice Sum and 2012 Olympic finalist Janeth Jepkosgei.

Men’s 4x800m

None of the reigning Olympic or world 800m medalists are in Nassau, opening up the field a little bit. The U.S. is led by Duane Solomon, who was fourth in the epic London Olympic final and sixth at the World Championships.

Kenya, with Ferguson Cheruiyot, challenges the U.S. in overall depth, but it is missing world-record holder David Rudisha. Ethiopia is home to the reigning world champion, but it does not have a 4x800m team entered in Nassau.

Women’s 4x1500m

The U.S. pool includes Morgan Uceny, who fell in the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic 1500m finals, as well as the world 800m bronze medalist Martinez. It is missing 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson and the precocious Mary Cain.

Kenya looks like the favorite, with reigning world 1500m bronze medalist Hellen Obiri and the second fastest woman in the world last year, Faith Kipyegon.

Men’s 4x1500m

Kenya is loaded here with three men who made both the Olympic and World Championships 1500m finals the last two years, including world champion Asbel Kiprop. Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat were the world’s two fastest men over 1500m in 2012 and are again so far this year.

Ethiopia has long been Kenya’s distance rival, and this is the only relay distance it is contesting. The U.S. team includes Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano but not world silver medalist Matthew Centrowitz.

David Rudisha says the last year ‘has been hell’

Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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