Timeline of Rio Olympic water testing broken promises

AP
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A timeline of key moments since The Associated Press first reported on contamination of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic waterways:

July 30 – The Associated Press publishes its first story based on data from five months of viral and bacterial testing of Rio’s venues for Olympic water sports. The levels of disease-causing viruses were similar to those found in raw sewage. The medical director of the International Olympic Committee says in response that there are no plans to change venues and that the World Health Organization, which acts in an advisory role for the IOC, has reassured Olympic officials there is “no significant risk of athlete health.”

July 31 – The Rio de Janeiro state government and the state environmental agency blast the AP report as alarmist and say it is unfair to judge Rio’s waters based on viral counts, limits of which are not designated in Brazilian legislation – or most nations. They also question the qualifications of the laboratory where the AP samples were analyzed. David Zee, an oceanography professor at Rio’s state university who has studied pollution in Guanabara Bay for decades and had no part in the AP study, says: “It’s natural that the authorities react saying that `everything is fine,’ but everything is not fine.” He says the AP testing “was done in a trustworthy lab.”

Aug. 1 – WHO tells the AP in an emailed statement that it has now “advised the IOC to widen the scientific base of indicators to include viruses. The risk assessment should be revised accordingly, pending the results of further analysis.” The International Sailing Federation becomes the first to break with the IOC, saying it will carry out its own viral testing of Rio’s waters.

Aug. 2 – IOC reverses course. “The WHO is saying they are recommending viral testing,” IOC’s medical director, Dr. Richard Budgett, tells the AP. “We’ve always said we will follow the expert advice, so we will now be asking the appropriate authorities in Rio to follow the expert advice, which is for viral testing.”

Aug. 4 – Matt Smith, head of World Rowing, says that “together with the WHO and the IOC, we’re going to follow what they say. We will ask that viral testing is done. If there is a problem, we will react. It’s our moral duty.”

Aug. 10 – WHO changes direction, telling the AP in an email that it “will not issue an `official recommendation’ on viral testing.” It says that “viral testing would not help significantly in the measurement and assessment of water quality.” This statement contradicts WHO’s own published studies showing little to no correlation between the levels of bacterial and viral markers in water – meaning that just testing for bacteria alone tells experts little about the amount of disease-causing viruses in recreational waters. Also on this day, the AP learns 13 American rowers became sick with stomach illness at the World Junior Rowing Championship held the previous four days.

Aug. 12 – IOC rules out viral testing of Rio’s waters. Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi says IOC will be sticking to WHO guidelines recommending only bacterial testing. “WHO is very clear that bacterial testing is what should be followed,” Dubi says at a news conference in Rio.

Aug. 14 – WHO again reverses course. In a telephone interview with the AP, Bruce Gordon, WHO’s top water safety expert, says that while bacterial testing is the global standard, “WHO would support additional viral testing to further inform the risk assessment by authorities and to verify and address concerns raised by independent testing. In this case, measuring coliphages and enteric viruses would be advisable.”

Aug. 15 – International Sailing Federation changes its stance. Dr. Nebojsa Nikolic, the federation’s top medical official, tells the AP that “we will certainly not” do viral testing.

Sept. 1 – Carlos Nuzman, head of Rio’s local Olympic organizing committee, tells the AP in an interview that “we will do” viral tests and says work is already underway to understand how best to carry out the viral analysis.

Sept. 16 – The international swimming federation calls for Olympic officials to carry out viral testing in Rio, according to an internal document obtained by the AP. The federation “and its Sports Medicine Committee strongly recommend that viral tests should also be performed,” it says in a letter to Olympic organizers.

Oct. 16 – WHO again changes course, issuing a statement saying it recommends only bacterial testing for Rio’s Olympics. It says there is “a lack of standardized methods and difficulty interpreting results” for routine testing of viruses. Mario Andrada, spokesman for Rio’s Olympic organizing committee, says they consider that to be “the final instructions for Rio 2016” and that viral testing will not be done.

Oct. 24 – WHO, in an emailed statement, says its comment “not recommending `routine’ viral testing is not analogous to WHO recommending that Brazil do nothing and that WHO is unconcerned with viral pathogens in water. … In fact, we have experts engaged on examining the best monitoring protocols and we will be discussing virus testing at an upcoming meeting in Brazil.”

VIDEO: Aerial Rio Olympic Park progress update

Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition 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.

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