Five events to watch at Diamond League opener in Doha

Justin Gatlin
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The first of 14 Diamond League meets is Friday in Doha, featuring several of the U.S.’ biggest hopes for Olympic track and field gold in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Justin Gatlin went undefeated in the 100m and 200m last season. Allyson Felix (200m) and Dawn Harper-Nelson (100m hurdles) were also fastest in the world in their events in 2014. Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory are the world’s best in the 400m. Brittney Reese has won every global meet long jump she’s entered since 2009.

They’re all in Doha, along with more Olympic champions including Great Britain’s Mo Farah and Australia’s Sally Pearson.

Start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern).

10:30 a.m. — Women’s long jump
10:35 — Women’s discus
10:40 — Men’s shot put
11:10  — Men’s pole vault
11:25 — Women’s high jump
12:04 p.m. — Men’s 400m hurdles
12:10 — Men’s javelin
12:15 — Women’s 1500m
12:29 — Men’s 800m
12:40 — Men’s triple jump
12:41 —  Women’s 200m
12:52 — Women’s 100m hurdles
1:02 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
1:23 — Men’s 100m
1:34 — Women’s 400m
1:45 — Men’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 200m — 12:41 p.m. ET

Olympic champion Allyson Felix opened her individual-event season by finishing third in the Jamaica Invitational 100m in Kingston on Saturday. One could say it was promising, given she was beaten only by Jamaican Elaine Thompson and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare — who are looking like Worlds medal contenders — and was faster than Jeneba Tarmoh, whom she famously tied at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

And because Felix has said she’s focusing on the 200m and 400m this season anyway, after coming back from a torn hamstring at the 2013 World Championships to post the fastest 200m time since the 2012 Olympics in Brussels on Sept. 5.

In Doha, Tarmoh may be Felix’s biggest threat along with the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure. Absent are Jamaican superstars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (the World champion) and Veronica Campbell-Brown (the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion).

Women’s 100m hurdles — 12:52 p.m. ET

This is looking like it’ll be the toughest event in which to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, and four of the candidates are in Doha.

Included are the fastest women from 2014 and 2015 — Dawn Harper-Nelson and Jasmin Stowers — plus the second-fastest woman from 2014 — Queen Harrison — and Kristi Castlin. Absent are reigning World champion Brianna Rollins, plus Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones, who were third and fourth at the 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. contingent in Doha will be challenged by the two best non-Americans of the last five years — Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson and Great Britain’s Michigan-born Tiffany Porter.

Men’s 100m — 1:23 p.m. ET

Justin Gatlin opens his 100m season against a field that includes World bronze medalist Nesta Carter of Jamaica and Mike Rodgers, the second-fastest American behind Gatlin last year.

Gatlin, who ran five of the six fastest times among an undefeated 2014, will more likely be measured against the men who are not in Doha. We’ve already seen Usain Bolt run 10.12 in April, his slowest 100m time ever in a final. Former world-record holder Asafa Powell clocked 9.84 in Kingston on Saturday, the fastest time in the world this year.

Women’s 400m — 1:34 p.m. ET

The two fastest women from 2014 will go head to head here — countrywomen Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross.

The Olympic champion Richards-Ross has looked stronger so far this year, beating McCorory in Kingston on Saturday and clocking a faster 4x400m split at the IAAF World Relays the week before that.

Men’s 3000m — 1:45 p.m. ET

British Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah headlines this event, which is not contested in the Olympic program.

The competition includes Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet and Kenyan Isiah Koech, who took silver and bronze behind Farah in the 5000m at the 2013 World Championships.

U.S. 4x100m relay team stripped of 2012 Olympic silver medals

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

USA Boxing
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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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