WADA: Russia can’t bid for, host international events

RUSADA
AP
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Leaders of the World Anti-Doping Agency declared Russia’s anti-doping operation out of compliance Wednesday — a harsh though expected blow to a country accused of widespread corruption throughout its sports.

Members of the WADA foundation board approved a recommendation from an independent commission that detailed widespread rule-breaking in Russia’s track and anti-doping programs. Nobody voted “no,” though it wasn’t clear whether some members abstained as the vote was done by raising hands.

Without an operating anti-doping agency, Russia cannot host or bid for international events. The track team has already been provisionally suspended by the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, which is also under investigation for its role in the doping scandal.

The vote came as key figures in the anti-doping movement, including Olympic champions Edwin Moses and Beckie Scott, called for banning the Russian track team from next year’s Olympics and for the probe in Russia to extend beyond track and field.

“I think the athletes were quite clear,” Moses said. “There was testimony in (the report) of what is going on in Russia is beyond track and field. They’re very, very concerned about that.”

Russia’s member on the WADA Foundation board, deputy sports minister Pavel Kolobkov, sat stoically during the vote, which he was not part of. Earlier, he presented his country’s case. The headline from his presentation was the possibility that the Russian government could strip funding from the Moscow anti-doping lab, which has also been declared noncompliant.

Dick Pound, the author of the independent commission report, responded to that by saying, “throwing out funding is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Overall, though, there was little debate about the Russian agency (RUSADA), the fate of which has essentially been sealed since Pound’s report came out last week.

More urgently discussed was WADA’s ability to deal with the noncompliance declaration and the doping allegations that go beyond Russia’s track team.

WADA General Director David Howman said plans would be made this month for outside agencies to take over testing and compliance for Russian athletes, so as to avoid a vacuum of anti-doping work in the country.

Scott, an Olympic champion cross-country skier and the chair of the WADA athlete committee, told the WADA board that athletes around the world were asking the agency to expand its probe beyond Russian track and field.

“They’re saying, ‘Why not all sports?'” said Scott, a Canadian Olympic cross-country skiing champion and also the chair of WADA’s athlete committee. “I feel that there are a lot of athletes watching and waiting right now. We’re at a crossroads. We urge you to please consider these athletes and consider these sports as a whole.”

WADA’s representative from New Zealand agreed with Scott’s proposal and said he would like to see it adopted. But no action was taken.

WADA president Craig Reedie told Scott, “it’s quite difficult to agree today, around this table, that we would investigate all sports around the world.”

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the lack of action “a gut kick to clean athletes.”

“Unless we want to be relegated to an impotent bureaucracy, we have to fulfill our promise to clean athletes and take action as requested by them,” Tygart said.

Scott’s proposal delivered context into a debate about the WADA budget, which stands at about $26 million a year and is in line for a 2 or 3 percent increase, but clearly needs more if thorough investigations are going to continue.

“There are going to have to be other sources of revenue,” Moses said. “WADA’s budget is, I don’t think, large enough to do what it needs to do.”

MORE: Russian DQ’d after winning Japan marathon

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
Getty
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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