Mariya Lasitskene, Russia’s top track and field athlete, slams ‘never-ending disgrace’

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only Russian track athlete currently holding a world title called on the country’s officials and coaches in the sport to be replaced because of the slow pace of anti-doping reforms.

High jumper Mariya Lasitskene’s message — in a country where top athletes rarely speak out against officials — came shortly after Russia’s ban from international athletics was prolonged on Sunday.

“I hope that the people involved in this never-ending disgrace still have the courage to leave. By themselves. And don’t think I’m only talking about the management,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram.

“It’s also about the current coaches who are still sure that you can’t win without doping. They’re long overdue for retirement. A new generation of our athletes must grow up with a different philosophy, and for any athlete, it’s the coach who provides that.”

Lasitskene’s statement echoed Russian Anti-Doping Agency CEO Yuri Ganus, who said a month ago the Russian Athletics Federation was in “a world of illusion” and needed a purge of top officials. Ganus and federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin held talks with Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov on Monday.

Lasitskene won world titles in 2015 and 2017, but was barred from the 2016 Olympics because of sanctions against the Russian team. She competes internationally under a neutral flag.

Long jumper Darya Klishina, a world silver medalist in 2017, commented on Instagram that Lasitskene’s call was “right on target.”

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said the Russian track leadership could struggle without the trust of its top athletes.

“I think that for the federation it’s a bad signal, a bad sign,” he said.

“They don’t have that direct connection with the young guys, the young athletes, and it’s unpleasant information for the federation. Of course, Dmitry Shlyakhtin should meet with them and say what kind of work is being done … and build complete support from our clean athletes, the guys representing our country.”

Sunday’s IAAF decision left Russia with little over three months to avoid competing under a neutral flag at the world championships in Qatar. After Russia was barred from international athletics in 2015 because of widespread doping, the country’s competitors participated at the 2017 worlds as neutral athletes.

The head of the IAAF’s Russia task force, Rune Andersen, said there was evidence the country was “backsliding” on anti-doping reforms. He cited evidence that banned coaches have continued to work with athletes, and an ongoing investigation into whether Russian officials provided fake medical documentation to give high jumper Danil Lysenko an alibi for failing to notify drug testers of his whereabouts.

“I have instructed the federation president (Shlyakhtin) to be completely candid and provide any information that’s required for the special IAAF investigation,” sports minister Kolobkov said.

“It’s in our own interests for this situation to be fully investigated. If there really was a forged document or note, then everyone who was involved in that should be punished.”

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MORE: Russia investigated for doping forgery claim related to silver medalist

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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