Justin Gatlin primed for his ‘Super Bowl’ in Diamond League finale

Justin Gatlin
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Justin Gatlin will put his undefeated 2014 record on the line one more time in the last Diamond League meet of the season.

“Traveling to Brussels I was thinking about my favorite football team that remained undefeated for a long while, but in the end they lost a game,” said Gatlin, who gave football a try during his doping suspension from 2006 to 2010. “I said to myself : Brussels is going to be my Super Bowl, and I definitely don’t want to lose my game Friday.”

Gatlin was slated to race the 100m and the 200m in a one-hour span in the Belgium capital, but he was no longer on the 200m start list when this story was published (update: Gatlin was re-added to the 200m start list Thursday afternoon). He is the fastest man over both distances this year, clocking 9.80 and 19.68 seconds, respectively.

Usain Bolt missed the early portion of the season after foot surgery, recorded two pedestrian 100m races (by his standards) and ended his year a couple weeks ago.

Bolt has said he wants to retire after the 2017 World Championships. Gatlin, who at 32 is four years older than Bolt, wants to compete beyond that.

“In London I wanted to win the Olympic title, but I made a technical error in the final that allowed Bolt to move two strides ahead,” Gatlin said. “In Rio [de Janeiro in 2016], I don’t want to make mistakes anymore. My idea is that I want to continue until 2020. As long as there are no young guys on the track who can beat me, I want to go on.”

In Brussels, Gatlin will face Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell in a meeting of the world’s fastest sprinters before Bolt began breaking records in 2008.

Allyson FelixGalen Rupp and Jenny Simpson are also scheduled to be in action at the second of two Diamond League finals.

The finals are labeled that way because they mark the last competitions in individual event Diamond Races, accumulation points standings that determine season-long champions.

The Diamond League finals provide double the points than the previous Diamond League meets. That means first place per event in Brussels awards eight points, second place gets four points and third place two points.

Each of the 32 individual event Diamond Race winners receive $40,000 and a Diamond Trophy. Half of the Diamond Races concluded in Zurich last week. The other 16 conclude in Brussels (Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com, 2 p.m. ET).

Here are the start lists. Here are five events to watch:

Men’s high jump — 1:35 p.m. ET

This has been the most exciting event this season, thanks to world record attempts by Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s World champion Bohdan Bondarenko. Somehow, the 1994 world record set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor still stands.

Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov is also a threat to win in Brussels, though he cannot mathematically overtake Bondarenko or Barshim for the season title. Bondarenko leads Barshim by four points.

Men’s 100m — 2:15

Gatlin may be undefeated this season, but he actually trails countryman Mike Rodgers by one point in the Diamond Race. If Gatlin finishes in the top three and ahead of Rodgers, he will take the title.

Gay and Powell are also in the field, one week after they looked unimpressive in a 100m in Zurich. There, Powell was fourth in 10.07 and Gay last in 10.35. Powell and Gay, who vied for the world’s fastest man title seven years ago before Bolt emerged, both failed drug tests last year and sat out about 12 months.

Men’s 1500m — 2:53

The loaded field includes the two fastest men this year — Kenyans Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop — who are separated by one point in the 1500m season standings. Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman steps up from finishing second in the 800m in Zurich last week. American Galen Rupp steps down from taking third in the Zurich 5000m, joining countryman and Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Remember, Kiprop took a crack at the world record in Monaco on July 18, where he was beaten by Kiplagat. Kiplagat ran the fastest time in nearly 10 years that day. This is Kiplagat and Kiprop’s first meeting over 1500m since.

Women’s 200m — 3:04

Olympic champion Allyson Felix owns the Diamond Race lead by two points, but there are three women in this field who have run faster than her best time this year. Felix, coming back this year after a torn hamstring at the 2013 World Championships, has a season’s best of 22.34, a time she has bettered each of the previous 11 seasons.

The competition in Brussels will put pressure on Felix. It includes the fastest woman in the event this year, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare.

Women’s 3000m — 3:46

This non-Olympic event includes a rematch of the most thrilling finish from Zurich last week. Jenny Simpson held off Shannon Rowbury in the 1500m by .01 on Aug. 28. They’re back at double the distance.

So are the Diamond League women’s distance standings leader Mercy Cherono (Kenya), the 3000m indoor world record holder Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) and the fastest woman over 1500m this year, the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.

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Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.