Ten memorable races from world track and field championships (video)

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Ten memorable races from the world track and field championships, including Usain Bolt‘s last events before retirement …

Usain Bolt upset by Justin Gatlin in 100m finale (Day 2)

For the first 95 meters, eyes were glued on Bolt trying to catch young American Christian Coleman. But it would be Justin Gatlin, out in lane 8, who shocked everyone with an incredible late surge to win his first global title in 12 years.

Women’s marathon ends in close sprint, U.S. medal (Day 3)

The top four finishers were separated by 10 seconds. The silver and bronze medalists finished in the same time after 26.2 miles on the roads of London, ending on Tower Bridge. Amy Cragg snagged third with her final kick, the first U.S. marathon medal at worlds since 1993.

Tori Bowie’s perfect lean steals 100m (Day 3)

In three years, Tori Bowie went from last place in the world indoor championships long jump to fastest woman in the world. The soft-spoken Mississippi native used a textbook lean — showing poise of a sprinter with two or three times her experience — to beat Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou by .01.

A 1500m sprint for the ages (Day 4)

The women’s 1500m was billed as perhaps the most competitive final of the meet. It delivered. The last 100 meters were chaotic to say the least. Kenyan Faith Kipyegon won, but American Jenny Simpson again proved her racing acumen, moving up on the rail for silver in a race that also included Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (bronze) and world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba (12th).

Duck splashes in women’s 400m (Day 6)

The rematch between Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo provided another incredible finish. However, neither the defending world champion nor the reigning Olympic champion took gold in the London rain. Miller-Uibo came off the final turn in the lead, with Felix the primary chaser. But the Bahamian tripped after looking at the scoreboard. Felix didn’t have that extra gear. Instead, Phyllis Francis surged past both of them for her first individual global medal, a gold. Francis, a former University of Oregon standout, attributed her experience in Eugene for preparing her to race in wet, chilly conditions.

Wayde van Niekerk misses double on Turkey Day (Day 7)

Wayde van Niekerk’s admirable attempt to match Michael Johnson‘s 400m-200m double from the 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympics came up two hundredths of a second short to an unknown.

Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev (born in Azerbaijan) stunned the Olympic Stadium by holding off Van Niekerk in the last strides of the 200m final. Guliyev came off the turn with a step on favorites Van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala — but the two Africans ran out of gas. Van Niekerk, tired from racing six times in six days, tightened up before his lean. Makwala, tired from his medical controversy and having raced a pair of 200m the night before, faded earlier in the stretch.

Shocking one-two in women’s steeplechase (Day 8)

In a meet full of upsets, you can make a strong argument this one-two was the most unforeseen. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs topped the strongest women’s 3000m steeplechase field of all time. Four years ago, the U.S. put no women in the world steeplechase final. Three years ago, Coburn was such an afterthought that East Africans thought she was a pacer in a Diamond League race. But in London, the Olympic bronze medalist Coburn lowered her American record and Frerichs set a personal best by 15 seconds. The next four finishers, all Kenyan-born, were four of the five fastest women of all time in the event.

Mo Farah beaten in last championship track race (Day 9)

For Mo Farah, it ended in tears. In his last global championship track race, the Brit lost at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2011. He had won the previous 10 straight Olympic and world championships 5000m and 10,000m. But Ethiopian Muktar Edris relegated Farah to silver in the 5000m and celebrated with his own version of Farah’s famous “Mobot.” Farah, 34, intends to move to road running and the marathon after this season.

Usain Bolt tumbles in last career race (Day 9)

It was not a fairytale ending to Usain Bolt’s career. It was a disastrous one. Bolt pulled up with a hamstring injury and tumbled to the track while anchoring Jamaica’s 4x100m relay. He lay face down, his hands covering his eyes in pain. Bolt later got up and was helped across the finish line by his teammates.

One last surprise in 4x400m (Day 10)

Fittingly, worlds ended with a first-time champion upsetting a global power. Trinidad and Tobago, a twin-island nation of some 1.5 million people, won the 4x400m with an anchor-leg surge past the U.S., population 320 million.

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Grigory Rodchenkov, Russian doping whistleblower, still lives in fear

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His head covered in a black balaclava, adjusting dark goggles obscuring his eyes, Grigory Rodchenkov grows anxious if any part of his face can be seen.

Exposing Russia’s state-sponsorship doping scheme forced Rodchenkov into hiding in the United States five years ago. Revealing his current identity is still too risky for the chemist turned whistleblower, even in a video interview from an undisclosed location.

“It’s my security measures because I have physical threats to be assassinated,” Rodchenkov told The Associated Press. “And I want to live.”

Evidence from Rodchenkov that has already turned Vladimir Putin‘s Russia into international sporting outcasts continues to be used in cases against athletes along with data from his former laboratory in Moscow.

“Putin, he is quite logical. He separates opposition in two ways — enemies … betrayers,” Rodchenkov said. “I am falling in the betrayers’ category and all betrayers should be beheaded, cut, dead. So there is no doubt that he wants me to be dead.”

It has not deterred him from documenting his life story in “The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire,” revisiting how he conspired with his country to corrupt sports and then tries to show contrition by turning star witness.

Rodchenkov was the brains behind the Duchess cocktail of anabolic steroids and cover-up that turned Russia into a medal machine at the home Olympics in Sochi in 2014, topping the standings with 13 gold medals before disqualifications.

Russian spies ensured the Duchess would not be detected in doping tests as FSB agents used a hole in the wall of the Sochi laboratory to swap out the dirty samples with clean urine at night.

“For me, it was the end of doping control,” Rodchenkov said. “If we can do it, why others cannot?”

The doping cover-up extended beyond the Winter Olympics, into the Summer Games, Paralympics, world track and field championships and every major sport.

Some Russians were barred from competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as the International Olympic Committee remains opposed to blanket bans on countries.

So Russian athletes can still compete on the international stage if they can show they are clean, despite a four-year ban from major international sporting events being imposed on the nation last year for a fresh cover-up, including tampering with data gained from Rodchenkov’s former lab in Moscow.

“Sport is a part of Putin’s politics and showing to the West how good Russia is,” Rodchenkov said. “You cannot trust Russia. You cannot trust the certification authorities, and (anti-doping) laboratories cannot be allowed to be restored within the foreseeable future.”

Especially now, according to Rodchenkov, following constitutional changes allowing Putin to run for two more six-year terms, in 2024 and 2030,

“Until 2036,” Rodchenkov said, “no trust.”

But why now trust Rodchenkov as he presents a virtuous image at odds with his deep collusion with the state to cheat?

“When you are laboratory director and you have 50 employees and you are reporting to your high ups at the ministry, I could not even think about morals,” he said, dismissing concerns about any long-term damage to the health of athletes he allowed to be pumped with steroids.

“It’s extremely debatable and still ungrounded,” he said. “We see the generation who is now in the end of their lives of 70s and 80s, which are still … in a good physical condition after steroid programs.”

Go back four decades and Rodchenkov was starting out in a Soviet system learning how to manipulate doping controls.

“I had honestly, I’m sorry, but I had huge feelings of accomplishment,” he said. “Those athletes I helped to (win) were extremely talented and I could not understand, with the coach, how he or she may lose to others. The only explanation was doping. Then using some programs, we won gold medals. Honestly it was like leveling the field.

“Again, ‘morals’ is maybe vocabulary from American life but not from Soviet and Russian. In (the) Soviet (Union) it was the Soviet moral, in Russia there is no morals.”

It helps when the athletes are compliant.

“This is the huge problem of the militarization of Russia sport,” Rodchenkov said. “They follow orders, they are disciplined but they cannot tell the truth because they have given the oath to the Russian state and consider foreigners as potential enemies or even actual enemies. That’s why in Russia there are three ways – lying, cheating and denying.”

Rodchenkov has had to convince the world he has shed those ways and is coming clean. More of the cases he helped to cover-up could soon come to light after the World Anti-Doping Agency shared data – of samples tested up to 2015, and tampering that continued into 2019 – that was retrieved from the Moscow testing lab at the heart of the state-backed doping program.

“The problem is that the people from outside cannot understand what is going on inside sports,” he said. “Only whistleblowers could do that. But in corrupted countries you have to escape and we need to be preserved.”

For Rodchenkov that means living a life constantly in fear of being recognized as happened on a train in the US.

“It was a student,” he recalled. “I told him, `Forget you are meeting me, yes it’s me, don’t tell anyone.’ … I disappeared again.”

MORE: Russia track and field faces expulsion if it misses deadline

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Noah Lyles, more world champs race in Monaco; TV, live stream schedule

Noah Lyles
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Noah Lyles headlines a bevy of world champions slated for the first full-on Diamond League meet of the abbreviated track and field season, live on NBC Sports on Friday.

Monaco hosts the strongest fields of any meet since the world championships 10 months ago. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold air coverage on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

Reigning world champions include Lyles (200m), Grant Holloway (110m hurdles), Donavan Brazier (800m) and Sam Kendricks (pole vault), and those are just the Americans.

Swede Mondo Duplantis, who twice raised the pole vault world record in February, takes on Kendricks in Monaco. Distance stars Sifan Hassan, Hellen Obiri, Beatrice Chepkoech, Timothy Cheruiyot and Joshua Cheptegei dot the fields, too.

The Diamond League season was due to start in April, but the coronavirus pandemic halted large-gathering track meets until now. Repurposed versions of Diamond League meets in Oslo and Zurich were held the last two months with fewer events and athletes and some entrants racing from different countries.

After Monaco, more Diamond League meets are scheduled for Stockholm (Aug. 23), Lausanne (Sept. 2), Brussels (Sept. 4), Naples (Sept. 17), Doha (Sept. 25) and China (Oct. 17).

Here are the Monaco entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:40 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
2:03 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
2:05 — Women’s High Jump
2:12 — Men’s 800m
2:17 — Women’s Triple Jump
2:19 — Women’s 5000m
2:42 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:50 — Women’s 100m
2:57 — Men’s 1500m
3:07 — Women’s 400m
3:13 — Men’s 5000m
3:32 — Men’s 200m
3:39 — Women’s 100m
3:47 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

Here are five events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org):

Men’s Pole Vault — 1:40 p.m.
The top field event of the meet includes the reigning Olympic champion (Brazil’s Thiago Braz), reigning world champion (Kendricks) and the world-record holder (Duplantis, who must be the favorite here). Kendricks and Duplantis already went head-to-head this spring, competing virtually from respective home pole-vault setups. Kendricks took their first six head-to-heads, back when Duplantis was a teenager, but the Louisiana-born Swede won all four of their indoor duels in February. Duplantis is the clear Tokyo Olympic favorite until proven otherwise.

Men’s 800m — 2:12 p.m.
The top four from the 2019 World Championships are entered. Brazier, 23, caught fire the last year. He broke the American record to win the world title. He broke his own American indoor record in February. Then, last month, Brazier took 1.33 seconds off his 1500m personal best. Nobody in the Monaco field has beaten Brazier since the start of 2018.

Women’s 5000m — 2:19 p.m.
Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan in world champion at 1500m and 10,000m, but she’s lost four of five meetings with two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya at 5000m. Hassan appears to be gearing up to race the 5000m in Tokyo, though, saying last month her eye was on a 1500m-5000m Olympic double had the Games been held this year. The 1500m preliminary heats and the 5000m final are separated by about 12 hours at the Olympics next year. Also in this field: three-time Olympian and former American record holder Shannon Rowbury, set for her first Diamond League race in nearly three years and since the birth of daughter Sienna.

Men’s 1500m — 2:57 p.m.
Last we saw Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot in a 1500m, he led wire-to-wire en route to a 2.12-second victory in the world championships final. Only one man has beaten Cheruiyot in three years, countryman Elijah Manangoi, who is provisionally suspended due to whereabouts failures. The Monaco field does include Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen (second-fastest man of 2019), Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha (indoor mile world-record holder), Pole Marcin Lewandowski (world bronze medalist) and Craig Engels (2019 U.S. champion who was 10th at worlds).

Men’s 200m — 3:32 p.m.
Lyles and younger brother Josephus Lyles go head-to-head for the first time since January 2017. Noah has lost just one outdoor 200m since placing fourth at the 2016 Olympic Trials coming out of high school. Josephus, primarily a 400m sprinter in his developmnt, last month took a half-second off a five-year-old 200m personal best. His new best time — 20.24 seconds — would have placed third at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships behind Noah (19.78) and Christian Coleman (20.02).

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