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

Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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