Carl Lewis
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Carl Lewis criticizes U.S. relay coaching

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis harshly criticized U.S. track and field relays on Tuesday.

U.S. 4x100m and 4x400m relays have struggled with coaching controversies and changes and declining results at recent major championships.

“USATF needs to stop the joking, stop the crap,” Lewis said at a U.S. Olympic Committee media summit. “What they need to do is get a retired college coach who is going to tell an agent that gets off, who is going to tell the athlete to get in line and know how to put together a 4×100 and know how to put together a relay. I don’t care if he’s 75. Get a retired college coach. And that’s it. Stop these little games with the people that are spinning. It’s crap. It’s embarrassing what’s happened with the relay program. It’s embarrassing we can’t even get a baton around.”

Lewis, now a coach where he used to sprint at the University of Houston, said he’s also coached athletes ages 6 to 18 and never seen a baton hit the ground at a meet.

“America can’t cross the line, so something’s going on here,” Lewis said. “Nine-year-olds never drop the stick.”

A U.S. relay hasn’t dropped a baton at an Olympics or Worlds since 2009, but other problems have led to defeats, in particular poor handoffs. Jamaica’s rise in the last decade hasn’t helped, either.

Last week, USA Track and Field said Lewis’ 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic teammate Dennis Mitchell resigned as a national team relays coach due to a new rule that prohibits the coach of an athlete likely to be part of the relay pool from coaching a relay.

Mitchell coaches the U.S.’ top male sprinter, Justin Gatlin.

“USATF’s High Performance Executive Committee revised the criteria for our relay coach selection in recent months,” USATF spokesperson Jill Geer said in an email. “Since that time, they have been active in leading the new process and direction for the relays, including coaching roles and responsibilities.”

USATF has not announced a replacement for Mitchell. Lewis said he’s never been interested.

“I don’t have the time to do it,” Lewis said, adding that USATF has never asked if he’s interested in coaching relays.

Lewis did not specifically mention Mitchell on Tuesday.

“The focus is not on being the best team,” Lewis said. “It’s all the drama. The agents in the middle. It’s a mess. Somebody needs to tell them all to go sit in the stands.”

Lewis said college coaches are a good option because “they’re not mixed in the middle of the mess.”

Mitchell coached the U.S. sprint relays at the IAAF World Relays in 2014 and 2015 and was the relays head coach at the August 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

In August, the U.S. earned one of a possible four gold medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the World Championships for a second straight time.

Mitchell’s original appointment as relays coach in 2014 was a controversial one, as during his sprint career he served a two-year ban for testing positive for testosterone in 1998.

In 2012, a U.S. Olympic relays coach was another of Lewis’ Olympic teammates — Jon Drummond. In 2014, Drummond was banned eight years after arbitrators found he assisted two-time Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay‘s use of banned substances.

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Allyson Felix named to US 4×400 relay pool for worlds

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Decorated U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix will be part of the 4×400 relay pool for the world championships as she rounds into elite form after giving birth.

The American squad bound for the world championships in Doha, Qatar, was announced Monday by USA Track & Field. It includes eight reigning world champions and 55 Olympians. The championships run Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 at the air-conditioned Khalifa Stadium. That will come in handy with the temperatures during the event expected to hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).

An 11-time world champion, Felix won’t compete in an individual event after finishing sixth in the 400 at the U.S. championships two months ago. Her performance earned her a place in the 4×400 relay pool as the Americans try to defend their title. The 33-year-old Felix’s race at nationals was her first since giving birth to her daughter last November during an emergency C-section.

Felix’s aim is to be back in top form for the Tokyo Games next summer.

The list of Americans trying to defend their world titles in Doha include Justin Gatlin (100), Tori Bowie (100), Phyllis Francis (400), Kori Carter (400 hurdles), Christian Taylor (triple jump) , Brittney Reese (long jump), Sam Kendricks (pole vault) and Emma Coburn (steeplechase).

One of the most anticipated races at worlds will be the 200 meters, featuring a showdown between Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles in what could be a sneak peek ahead to the Tokyo Olympics. Coleman, who’s also a favorite in the 100, is eligible for worlds and next year’s Olympics after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency dropped his case for missed tests due to a technicality.

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South African sprinter Carina Horn fails doping test

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MONACO (AP) One of Africa’s fastest female sprinters, Carina Horn, has been suspended for failing a doping test.

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees doping cases in track and field, says the South African is provisionally suspended after testing positive for the banned substances ibutamoren and ligandrol. Both substances can develop muscles with a similar effect to anabolic steroids and have been used by bodybuilders.

No date has been set for a hearing.

Horn won silver in the 100 meters and gold in the 4×100 relay at the African championships in 2016.

Her personal best of 10.98 seconds for the 100 is the South African record. Her best time this season of 11.01 is well inside the qualifying standard for the upcoming world championships.

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