track and field

Mondo Duplantis breaks Sergey Bubka’s outdoor pole vault world record

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Mondo Duplantis broke Sergey Bubka‘s 26-year-old outdoor pole vault world record, clearing 6.15 meters at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday.

Duplantis, the Swede who was born and raised in Louisiana, already held the overall pole vault world record, which he broke on consecutive Saturdays in February in indoor meets and raised to 6.18 meters.

Outdoors, Duplantis took 14 unsuccessful attempts at 6.15 meters in the last two months before clearing on his second try in Rome.

“Everybody kept talking about it, it was a big chip on my shoulder and I feel I had to do it to have people stop asking me this question,” Duplantis said, according to meet organizers. “When I did it, it was more relief than joy.”

Duplantis, a 20-year-old with a Swedish mom and American dad, turned professional last year after one season at LSU. He took silver at last year’s world championships behind American Sam Kendricks.

The Ukrainian Bubka broke the world record 17 times in the 1980s and ’90s, including by one centimeter on nine occasions from 1988-1994, taking advantage of bonus money each time he raised it.

Full Rome results are here. The Diamond League season concludes in Doha on Sept. 25.

In other events in Rome, Rio Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah clocked the world’s fastest women’s 100m in the world this year, 10.85 seconds.

Thompson-Herah, fifth and fourth at the last two world championships, supplanted fellow Jamaican Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who clocked 10.86 in Kingston on Aug. 22. Fraser-Pryce was not in the Rome field.

Norwegian Karsten Warholm won the 400m hurdles in 47.07 seconds, the ninth-fastest time in history. Warholm, the second-fastest ever in the event, has been chasing American Kevin Young‘s world record of 46.78 from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics all season.

MORE: Former track and field boss gets two years in prison

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Former track and field boss gets two years in prison

Lamine Diack
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PARIS (AP) — Former track federation president Lamine Diack was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for corruption during his nearly 16-year tenure at the IAAF, most notably a scheme that allowed Russian athletes who paid millions in hush money to keep competing when they should have been suspended for doping.

The guilty verdict in a Paris court represented a spectacular fall from grace for the 87-year-old Diack, who was the powerful head of the IAAF from 1999-2015 and mixed with world leaders and was influential in the world of Olympic sports. The court also sentenced Diack to another two years of suspended jail time and fined him $590,000.

His lawyers said they will appeal, keeping Diack out of jail for now. Diack did not comment as he walked out of court.

One of Diack’s lawyers, Simon Ndiaye, called the verdict “unjust and inhuman” and said the court made his client a “scapegoat.”

Diack was found guilty of multiple corruption charges and of breach of trust but acquitted of a money laundering charge.

Among those in court, and thrilled by the verdict, was French marathon runner Christelle Daunay. She competed against one of the Russian athletes, runner Liliya Shobukhova, who later testified to investigators about illicit payments to hush up doping. Beaten by Shobukhova at the 2011 Chicago Marathon, Daunay was a civil party to the case.

Speaking after the court awarded her damages totaling $53,000, Daunay described the verdict as a victory for all athletes who were robbed of prizes and results by having to race against competitors who should have sanctioned but instead paid to benefit from the doping cover-up.

“Behind my mask, you can’t see it, but I’m smiling,” she said. “I’m pleased, too, for all the athletes. We have to keep up the fight against doping.”

At the trial in June, prosecutors requested a four-year jail term and a fine of $590,000 for Diack, who oversaw an era when Usain Bolt made track and field wildly popular but whose legacy was trashed after his arrest in France in 2015 and the subsequent revelations of widespread malfeasance.

Diack, wearing a white robe, sat impassive in front of the chief judge as she read out the guilty verdict and sentence. The judge, Rose-Marie Hunault, detailed his role in the payoff scheme, dubbed “full protection,” that squeezed Russian athletes suspected of doping of about $3.74 million in hush money.

“The money was paid in exchange for a program of ‘full protection,’” she said, adding the scheme allowed athletes who should have been suspended “purely and simply to escape sanctions.”

“You violated the rules of the game,” the judge said.

The court also handed guilty verdicts to five other people, including Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant. The judge said $15 million was funneled to the younger Diack’s companies, including commissions and money creamed off contracts and the sale of TV rights and other transactions while his father was in charge at the IAAF. The federation is now called World Athletics, part of the makeover undertaken by the federation to rebuild its reputation battered by the Diacks.

The judge said the Diacks worked together in diverting funds, telling Lamine Diack there was “an understanding between you and your son.”

The younger Diack lives in Senegal, which has refused to extradite him. He was not in court for the verdict and did not attend the six-day hearing in June. The court sentenced him in his absence to five years in prison and a fine of $1.17 million.

The court also awarded $18.9 million in damages to the IAAF, roughly one-third to be paid by the Diacks and the rest by them and the four others found guilty.

Among them was former IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, also tried in his absence for corruption and not in court Wednesday. The court handed the Russian a three-year jail term and ordered the confiscation of nearly $2.2 million from his account in Monaco, where World Athletics is based.

Balakhnichev told Russian news agency RIA Novosti he would appeal to “the highest instances.”

“I have been deprived of the legal right to defend myself. They said that I was not cooperating with the investigation and I categorically disagree with that,” he said.

Gabriel Dolle, a doctor who oversaw drug testing at the IAAF, was handed a two-year suspended jail term and fined $163,000 for taking money to slow down doping sanctions.

Also found guilty were lawyer Habib Cisse, who served as Diack’s legal counsel and was said by the judge to have played an “essential role” in corruption under Diack, and Russian coach Alexei Melnikov, who was tried and sentenced in his absence.

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Warholm, Duplantis continue record chases; Rome TV, stream schedule

Karsten Warholm
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Karsten Warholm and Mondo Duplantis aren’t done record chasing this season.

Warholm, the world 400m hurdles champion from Norway, and Duplantis, the pole vault sensation from Sweden, continue pursuits of long-standing world records at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday.

NBCSN coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold also streams live for subscribers.

Warholm takes his fifth crack this summer at the 28-year-old world record in the 400m hurdles, set at the Barcelona Olympics by American Kevin Young.

Since July 2019, the Norwegian clocked four of the 12 fastest times in history. That included his personal best at his last Diamond League appearance — 46.87 seconds to miss the record by .09 after clipping the last hurdle (just as Young did in 1992).

Warholm will either end his season in Rome or continue to the Norwegian Championships in Bergen on Sunday, his agent said.

Duplantis already broke the pole vault world record twice in February, raising it to 6.18 meters at indoor meets.

But he pursues the outdoor best as well, held by Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka (6.14 from 1994). The 20-year-old raised in Louisiana has taken 13 unsuccessful attempts at 6.15 meters in the last 32 days.

Duplantis is expected to end his season in Doha next week.

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

11:45 a.m. ET — Women’s High Jump
12:25 p.m. — Men’s Pole Vault
12:40 — Men’s High Jump
12:43 — Women’s 400m
12:53 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
1:03 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
1:13 — Men’s 400m
1:20 — Men’s 3000m
1:30 — Men’s Shot Put
1:38 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
1:47 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
1:55 — Women’s 800m
2:05 — Women’s 100m
2:15 — Men’s 100m

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

Men’s Pole Vault — 12:25 p.m.
Duplantis hasn’t faced much competition this season, but this field does include former world-record holder and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France. Duplantis’ routine has been to win the competition, then raise the bar to 6.15 meters for record attempts. Bubka is the only man to ever clear a higher height outdoors than Duplantis’ personal best of 6.07.

Men’s 400m Hurdles — 1:03 p.m.
Nobody else in the field has been within 1.4 seconds of Warholm’s personal best. He may not get a challenge from anybody else, but Warholm has been just fine running by himself this season, breaking the 300m hurdles world record in a solo race. He bounced back well from a 47.62 last week to clock 47.08 in Berlin on Sunday, putting him back on record watch in Rome.

Women’s 100m — 2:05 p.m.
No chance the world record falls here. But significant for the presence of Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, set to race outside Jamaica for the first time since the 2019 World Championships, where she was shockingly fourth in the 100m and withdrew from the 200m before the semifinals. Thompson ranks second in the world this year at 10.88 seconds, trailing countrywoman and fellow Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (who ran 10.86 but is not in the Rome field). Also in Rome: Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou, a medalist at the last two world championships, and 2018 U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs.

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