Russia’s Olympic track and field decision expected in May

Seb Coe
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MONACO (AP) — Russia still has “significant work” to do to repair its anti-doping program before its track and field athletes can be considered for reinstatement ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the IAAF said Friday.

The sport’s world governing body said Russia has made progress but not yet done enough to meet the conditions for readmission to global track and field competition. The IAAF will meet again in May for what likely will be a final decision on Russia’s eligibility for the games in August.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe made the announcement at the end of a two-day council meeting in Monaco, where officials examined the efforts of the Russian federation — known as RUSAF — to reform its anti-doping system.

“While progress has been made, the council unanimously agreed that the Russian authorities need to undertake further significant work to satisfy the reinstatement conditions,” Coe said. “RUSAF should not be reinstated to membership of the IAAF at this stage. The task force will report at the next council meeting.”

The next meeting will be held on an unspecified date in May, three months before the Olympics.

“I think you should conclude that these decisions will be taken at that point,” Coe said, adding that Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus are in “critical care” and also must seriously improve their anti-doping programs.

Mikhail Butov, the secretary general of Russia’s track federation who serves on the IAAF council, accepted the decision and said Russia still has time to fulfil the conditions.

“They reckoned that we need to take yet more steps to satisfy all the demands,” he told Russian news agency Tass. “There is still a lot of time to resolve the issues with the IAAF and the IOC. I think we will have enough strength for that. There are things to work on and there’s a path to achieving our goal. We will work.”

The IAAF suspended Russia in November after an independent report by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel detailed systematic corruption and doping cover-ups in the country, then laid down a series of criteria for the Russians to meet before they can be eligible for readmission.

Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF task force on Russia, backed Coe’s assessment that Russia still has a long way to go.

“One criteria which is very, very important, is changing the culture of doping in Russia,” he said. “It’s a first job that needs to be done.”

The work still to be done centers around “interviewing athletes and coaches named in the WADA independent commission report and athletes and coaches who have had anti-doping rule violations recorded against them,” Andersen said.

He added that there have been “delays in getting effective in and out of competition drug testing up and running” following the suspension of Russia’s national anti-doping agency and drug-testing laboratory.

Of Russia’s track and field medalists at the 2012 London Olympics, eight have since either served doping bans or are provisionally suspended.

WADA’s initial report was made following allegations made in a documentary by German broadcaster ARD.

The program featured a Russian whistleblower, 800-meter runner Yulia Stepanova, who helped expose the doping scandal. She is hoping to be allowed to compete at the Olympics, though not representing Russia. Stepanova and her husband, a former anti-doping official, left Russia in 2014 after providing undercover footage of apparent doping violations for ARD’s documentary.

“The council will also ask the taskforce to consider the eligibility of Yulia Stepanova to compete in international competition,” Coe said. “I wrote a letter to both of them saying that I was very grateful for the help and support they had given the task force and that, at the appropriate time, I would be speaking to them.”

ARD aired another documentary Sunday, in which Russian coach Vladimir Mokhnev was accused of continuing to train athletes while he serves an IAAF suspension. The program alleged another coach offered banned substances for sale and that the acting head of the Russian anti-doping agency had allowed an unidentified athlete to reschedule a supposedly no-notice drug test.

Andersen said “we will be pursuing this with the Russian authorities.”

Russia is not the only country under serious pressure.

“Ethiopia and Morocco (both) need to implement as a matter of urgency a robust and adequate national testing program, both in and out of competition,” Coe said. “Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus have been put on an IAAF monitoring list for 2016 to ensure their anti-doping programs are significantly strengthened and their journey to compliance completed by the end of this year.”

Coe said “serious sanctions” would happen only “if they don’t comply with council requirements.”

More than 40 Kenyan track athletes have failed drug tests since 2012, and four senior track officials have been suspended by the IAAF for “potential subversion of the anti-doping control process in Kenya.”

Three Ethiopian runners have been suspended on suspicion of doping amid a string of positive tests among the country’s athletes. The Ethiopian Anti-Doping Agency said at least nine athletes were under suspicion.

MORE: 99 positive tests for meldonium; notable athletes

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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