Getty Images

Doping fight: WADA gathers 2,500 samples from Russian lab

Leave a comment

The World Anti-Doping Agency says it has gathered more than 2,500 samples from a Russian laboratory that can be used to potentially corroborate doping positives uncovered by an investigation into a massive government-directed program designed to win Olympic medals.

Obtaining the samples, along with data still being analyzed by WADA scientists, was a key goal for the agency as it tries to proceed with hundreds of cases from earlier in the decade.

WADA announced Tuesday that it had retrieved 2,562 samples, split them into “A″ and “B″ collection bottles and shipped them to a lab outside of Russia for testing.

Once the samples and underlying data behind them have been analyzed, WADA is expected to turn over evidence to international sports federations and national anti-doping agencies, which can bring forward cases.

If those organizations don’t act on cases, WADA has the right to bring them to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

WADA’s director of intelligence and investigations, Gunter Younger, said his five-person team “decided to take any and all samples that corresponded to data … that was even remotely (suspicious), even where an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was not suspected.”

Unknown is what percentage of cases the 2,562 samples represent; WADA has not provided that figure.

Regardless, the gathering of the samples is a success for WADA, which was heavily criticized for its decision to reinstate Russia’s anti-doping agency before receiving the data and samples, as had been a precondition of reinstatement. Instead, WADA said the data had to be handed over by Dec. 31, 2018, and the samples made available by June 30, 2019. Russia missed the first deadline by two weeks but did allow access to the data.

Younger’s team is expected to present an update to the WADA board at its meeting May 16.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Russia’s Paralympic doping ban ends, with conditions

Mo Farah focused on Chicago Marathon defense, not ruling out 10,000m double

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mo Farah said all of his training focus is on defending his Chicago Marathon title on Oct. 13, but the British star also said Tuesday that he can wait until “the last minute” to change his mind and also enter the world championships 10,000m on Oct. 6.

“I am a reigning world champion, so I do get an automatic spot anyway,” Farah said of the 10,000m, where he is a three-time reigning world champion.

Farah transitioned to road racing after the 2017 season and was thought to be done with major track championships. Farah was the distance king for more than a half-decade, sweeping the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Farah said Tuesday that he didn’t know what the deadline would be to enter the world championships 10,000m.

“I really don’t know. I think the last minute,” he said. “As I said, I get an automatic spot anyway. I don’t know. My main target is to defend my [marathon] title, come out to Chicago. All the training is geared toward the marathon.”

An IAAF spokesperson said Farah must be entered as part of the British team by Sept. 16 to be eligible for worlds.

British Athletics said Wednesday that its team will be selected Sept. 2.

“Should Mo wish to race the 10,000m in Doha, he would need to advise the selection panel prior to this date,” a spokesperson said.

Farah enticed his followers about the 10,000m in a July 27 Instagram with the hashtag #doha10k, referencing the site of world championships in Qatar. Farah was asked Tuesday why he included the hashtag.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “I’m a reigning champion. I get an automatic spot. There’s nothing I have to do. I just thought why not?”

It’s not an unprecedented type of move to race a 10,000m one week before a marathon. Former training partner Galen Rupp placed fifth in the 2016 Olympic 10,000m on Aug. 13, then took bronze in the marathon on Aug. 21.

Farah said he hasn’t set any major racing plans beyond Chicago. He finished what he called a disappointing fifth in the London Marathon in 2:05.39 on April 28, three minutes behind winner Eliud Kipchoge. Farah said a satisfying result in Chicago would be a win above worrying about a specific time. The last man to repeat as Chicago champ was Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru in 2010.

The 2020 London Marathon is three and a half months before the Tokyo Olympic marathon, a tight turnaround.

“I think I can get back in form for the London Marathon before the Olympics, and then the Olympics, I guess, but I haven’t decided,” Farah said. “My main target now is just Chicago, then work from there.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge likens next shot at two-hour marathon to moon landing

Race Imboden, Gwen Berry get probation for Pan Am Games podium protests

Getty Images
1 Comment

DENVER (AP) — The letter went to the two protesters. The message was meant for a much wider audience.

The CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee sent letters of reprimand to hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden for protesting on the medals stand last week at the Pan American Games, but the 12-month probations that came with the letters also included a none-too-subtle signal for anyone vying for next year’s Olympics.

“It is also important for me to point out that, going forward, issuing a reprimand to other athletes in a similar instance is insufficient,” Sarah Hirshland wrote in the letters sent Tuesday. The Associated Press obtained copies of the documents.

Neither Berry’s raised fist nor Imboden’s kneel-down on the Pan Am medals stand were met with immediate consequences, in part because they happened at the tail end of the Games that were wrapping up in Lima, Peru.

Hirshland’s letter was as clear a sign as possible that athletes who try the same next year in Tokyo could face a different reaction.

It’s the IOC’s role to discipline athletes who break rules that forbid political protest at the Olympics — much the way the IOC triggered the ouster of John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their iconic protest in 1968 — though national federations can get into the mix, too. Before going to the Olympics, athletes sign forms stating they’re aware of the rules and won’t break them.

“We recognize that we must more clearly define for Team USA athletes what a breach of these rules will mean in the future,” Hirshland wrote. “Working with the (athletes and national governing body councils), we are committed to more explicitly defining what the consequences will be for members of Team USA who protest at future Games.”

Neither athlete immediately returned messages sent to them by AP via their social media accounts and agents.

Both will be eligible for the Olympics next summer, when the United States will be in the heat of a presidential campaign.

In a tweet sent shortly after his team’s medals ceremony at the Pan Am Games, Imboden said: “Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of issues that need to be addressed.

Berry said she was protesting social injustice in America, and that it was “too important to not say something.”

Hirshland said she respected the perspectives of the athletes and would work with the IOC “to engage on a global discussion on these matters.”

“However, we can’t ignore the rules or the reasons they exist,” she wrote.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Top coach investigated by USA Gymnastics, report says