IAAF official denies bid to delay track and field doping revelations

Nick Davies
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PARIS (AP) — A senior IAAF official has denied trying to delay public identification of alleged Russian drug cheats ahead of the 2013 World Track and Field Championships in Moscow.

French newspaper Le Monde said it had a copy of an email sent by Nick Davies, formerly director of communications at the IAAF and now deputy general secretary, in which he talked of “what Russian ‘skeleton’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping.”

Le Monde published extracts late Monday from the email, which it said Davies sent on July 19, 2013, three weeks before the start of the World Championships. Le Monde said the email was sent to Papa Massata Diack, son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack and who was working as a media consultant to the track and field body.

“I need to be able to sit down with the Anti-doping department and understand exactly what Russian ‘skeleton’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping,” Davies wrote, according to Le Monde. “I think that the time to have unveiled the various athletes was a long time ago and that now we need to be smart.

“These athletes, of course, should NOT be part of any Russian team for these World Championships … If the guilty ones are not competing then we might as well wait until the event is over to announce them. Or we announce one or two BUT AT THE SAME TIME as athletes from other countries.”

Papa Massata Diack was one of the IAAF officials alleged to have covered up doping offenses. His father is the focus of a police investigation amid allegations he took money to cover up positive drugs tests by Russian athletes.

Davies strongly denied any wrongdoing.

“As Director of IAAF Communications it was one of my responsibilities to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF,” Davies said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

“My email to the IAAF’s then marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack … was brain storming around media handling strategies to deal with the serious challenges we were facing around the image of the event. No plan was implemented following that email, and there is no possibility any media strategy could ever interfere with the conduct of the anti-doping process.”

Russia was last month banned from international athletics after a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission found evidence of systemic doping and cover-ups.

Le Monde also said that Davies’ email suggested that CSM, the sport agency chaired by IAAF President Sebastian Coe since January 2013, could help the IAAF in an unofficial PR campaign.

Davies said he “did not discuss these ideas with CSM and there has never been any agreement between the IAAF and CSM for any PR campaigns.”

MORE: Seb Coe grilled by British Parliament

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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