Anti-doping leaders: Russia should be banned from Rio Olympic track and field

Russia Olympic Committee
AP
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Leaders of the world anti-doping movement called for Russian track athletes to be banned from next year’s Olympics, saying Monday that the nine-month window between now and the Games isn’t enough to ensure the program and its athletes are clean.

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO) will send its declaration to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which holds its annual meetings this week in Colorado Springs.

The iNADO leaders are responding to last week’s report by an independent commission that detailed corruption and rule-breaking inside the Russian track team and the country’s anti-doping system.

The sport’s governing body, IAAF, has provisionally suspended the track team.

While the Russian and International Olympic Committees negotiate the country’s return, the iNADO leaders, who represented 16 countries, said the Russian track team hasn’t demonstrated it can send a clean team to the Olympics.

“We’re not convinced there’s enough time between now and then for them to clean up their act,” David Kenworthy, the chair of iNADO and the UK Anti-Doping in Britain, told The Associated Press.

As part of its declaration, iNADO also wants WADA to devote at least as much money to compliance as it does to research — something that falls in line with what the independent-commission report recommended. The WADA budget comes in at around $26 million a year, funded half by the International Olympic Committee and half by governments around the world.

Currently, WADA gets the bulk of its information about the efficiency of a country’s anti-doping program from questionnaires filled out by policymakers in the countries themselves.

“We’d like to allow WADA to have the ability to robustly examine countries, rather than rely on self-reporting,” Kenworthy said.

Over the weekend, IOC president Thomas Bach and the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, reached agreement on a roadmap for Russia to follow to become compliant with rules of the IAAF and WADA. No time frame was set. Bach said all the implicated coaches, doctors and athletes would have to serve their sanctions, and a top-to-bottom reform of Russia’s track and field program would have to take place.

The iNADO leaders have no confidence all that can happen before Aug. 12, 2016 — the day track and field starts at the Rio Olympics.

“If they can achieve that by 2016, great,” Kenworthy said. “But we just feel they can’t, because of the damage that’s been done to both their systems and to their credibility. If you’ve got to start from scratch, it takes years. It’s not something that just takes six months.”

WADA has already declared Russia’s anti-doping laboratory out of compliance. On Wednesday, WADA’s Foundation Board is expected to suspend the Russian anti-doping agency. WADA doesn’t have direct say in the eligibility of Russia’s track team. That falls under the jurisdiction of track’s governing body, the IAAF, which itself is being investigated by the independent commission.

Kenworthy said it’s important to get the anti-doping process back up and running in Russia immediately, “whether on a caretaker or permanent basis.” The iNADO members said their agencies would be available to help Russia with its testing program while it is being revamped.

“What you can’t do there is just leave a vacuum,” he said.

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WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona World Championships women’s pro race

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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