Category Archives: Athletics

Live: London Anniversary Games

Usain Bolt wins at Anniversary Games at Olympic Stadium

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Six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt produced his season’s best to win the 100m on his return to the Olympic Stadium for the Anniversary Games.

A year on from the London 2012 opening ceremony, Bolt paid his own homage to last year’s Olympics by clinching the blue riband event in 9.85 seconds.

Before a sell-out crowd, the Jamaican ran nine hundredths of a second quicker than he had previously done this year.

Britain’s James Dasaolu pulled out injured before the race.

Bolt got off to a lacklustre start, but the Olympic champion overpowered his rivals in the closing stages to dip across the line three hundredths of a second ahead of America’s Michael Rodgers in second.

Jamaica’s Nesta Carter was third in 9.99 while Dwain Chambers, the only Briton remaining in the race following Dasaolu’s withdrawal, was fifth in 10.10.

Bolt’s major honours

  • Olympic gold medals: 6 (2008 Beijing – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; 2012 London – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay)
  • World Championship titles: 5 (Berlin 2009 – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; Daegu 2011 – 200m and 4x100m relay)

Bolt, who will look to regain the world title in Moscow next month, was happy to lap up the adulation from 60,000 fans.

“It’s so wonderful to compete in London, it’s a brilliant experience to be here again,” he said.

But the world record holder admitted he had work to do ahead of the World Championships.

“My start was poor and I need to work on that,” he added. “To make a perfect race I need to make a good start and just get into the race. Hopefully I can make a good time at Moscow and continue to do well.”

The stadium was hosting an evening of athletics for the first time since last summer, when the likes of Bolt, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill whipped the crowd into a frenzy during an unforgettable Olympic Games.

Much has changed in this corner of east London since that glorious sporting summer. The Olympic Park now resembles a building site, and gone is the Olympic flame, but Friday night’s capacity crowd rekindled the spirit of the Games.

For all of the nostalgia, however, it was effectively the first night of a two-day Diamond League meeting, and the last track and field event before the World Championships.

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Bolt arrives on rocket

And for all the Olympic talent on display – 12 gold medallists will compete over the two days – it was Bolt, the world’s fastest man, who was the centre of attention on a celebratory evening in the capital.

All eyes were on the 26-year-old for many reasons. The night began with Bolt being transported into the arena in a gigantic metallic vehicle, described as a “rocket ship”.

Such is his box-office appeal – and importance to a sport which is in the doldrums because of drug scandals – Bolt now routinely opens Diamond League events by driving onto the track, but seeing the great sprinter in the sort of contraption more normally found in a sci-fi movie was a first.

Unsurprisingly, a wall of sound greeted Bolt’s arrival, stirring up memories of the thunderous noise which filled the stadium 12 months ago.

The 100m and 200m world record holder stood on top of the machine, dancing on the podium and waving his country’s flag during the lap of honour, exhibiting the showmanship which has made him one of the world’s most recognisable sportsmen.

But the crowd saved their loudest cheers for when Bolt brought the curtain down on an uplifting, albeit sentimental, evening.

Bolt analysis

Image of Darren Campbell Darren Campbell Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist & BBC Radio 5 live pundit

“You could tell that Usain Bolt was on it. I don’t think he fears anyone. Technically he had a poor race. He had a terrible start but he knows that people have to run a perfect race, and he can make 10 mistakes and still win.”

Indeed, if there are doubts over the credibility of sprinting following the positive tests of Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Sherone Simpson two weeks ago, then the thousands of fans at the Olympic Stadium at least seemed to put such thoughts to one side as they revelled in watching Bolt do what he does best.

British fans will be concerned about the fitness of Dasaolu after the 25-year-old withdrew as a precaution because of a hip injury suffered in the warm-up.

Dasaolu became the second-fastest Briton in history when he ran 9.91 seconds at the British Championship and much anticipation surrounded his appearance alongside Bolt.

The action will continue on Saturday when Ennis-Hill and Farah, two Britons who won gold on Super Saturday, appear on the track where they established themselves on the world stage.

Ennis-Hill has been troubled with an Achilles injury throughout the season but is set to compete in the long jump and 100m hurdles.

Farah will compete in the 3,000m and many have predicted that the double Olympic champion will break David Moorcroft’s long-standing British record.

World Aquatics Championships: Tom Daley makes semi-final

Diver Tom Daley reached the World Aquatics Championships individual 10m platform semi-final in Barcelona but only after struggling with injury.

The Olympic medallist tore his triceps in April and only returned to training recently, but the issue reappeared during a warm-up on Thursday.

Daley, 19, was treated between each round as he went on to finish 13th with a score of 406.40 in the preliminaries.

Daniel Goodfellow went out in 28th on his major international debut.

Daley was concerned with his fitness before the event and played down his medal hopes, although coach Andy Banks remains optimistic the teenager will be fit enough to qualify for Sunday’s final.

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Daley admits fitness concerns

Banks told BBC Sport: “He is receiving treatment now before the semi-finals which will hopefully put him in a better frame of mind to dive more consistently.

“Entry is one of the key things and being able to lock up the arm as you go into the water which the triceps is key in doing so he is missing that a little bit.”

The diver particularly struggled with his two most complex routines, but was saved by an impressive inward 3.5 somersault routine and two solid efforts at the end of qualification.

“We’ve worked so hard on the process of the dive and if he has something else that is taking his mind off it then it doesn’t make it easy against the best in the world,” added Banks.

“Hopefully we can get it away from his mind a little bit and make him feel a little bit better.”

Defending world champion Qui Bo of China and London Olympic gold medallist David Boudia of the US led the standings after the preliminaries, scoring 524.40 and 503.30 respectively.

Greg Rutherford ruled of Anniversary Games through injury

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The 26-year-old has not competed since pulling his right hamstring at the Diamond League meet in Paris on 6 July.

But he said he still hoped to be fit for next month’s World Championships in Moscow, and has been given more time – until 30 July – to recover.

Rutherford said: “I’m working as hard as I can.”

The Englishman was not named in the GB team announced this week for the Worlds, which start on 10 August.

British Athletics performance director Neil Black, who has said the Olympic champion does not have to compete prior to Moscow in order to prove his fitness, will pick between Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson.

The Anniversary Games is a three-day meeting being held at London’s Olympic Stadium between 26-28 July. It marks a year since the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Rutherford had been hoping to compete alongside British team-mates Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill, who is also struggling with an ankle injury, on the second day.

The trio all claimed gold medals within an hour of each other on 4 August, which became known as ‘Super Saturday’, in one of the most memorable moments of the Games.

Sebastian Coe wants four-year ban for failed drugs tests

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London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe wants the ban for failing a drugs test to be increased from two to four years.

The double Olympic champion’s claim comes after sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell provided positive samples.

Tyson Gay and Asafa PowellTyson Gay and Asafa Powell have both won Olympic and World Championship medals

“We have to go back from two years to four years. The move down to two did a lot of damage to my sport,” Lord Coe told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek.

“It is for the clean athletes. I don’t care about the cheats we weed out. These people are trashing my sport.”

While the 1500m gold medallist from Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984 does not believe trust in the sport has completely evaporated, Lord Coe is concerned people are losing faith in athletics.

“It is depressing. Trust sits at the heart of this,” said Lord Coe, who is also vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“I don’t think trust is gone entirely, but it was a bad day for the sport. The big challenge here is to go on fighting, this is not a fight we can afford to lose.

“It is about trust. If fans can’t trust the athletes and go there knowing what they are watching is questionable, then we will descend to American wrestling where most of the crowd know it is fake and, worryingly, don’t care.”

Seb Coe timeline

1956: Born in Chiswick, London

1980: Wins 1500m gold at Moscow Olympics

1984: Successfully defends Olympic 1500m title in Los Angeles

1992-97: Serves as a Conservative MP

2000: Becomes a life peer

2005: Leads London’s successful bid to win 2012 Olympics

2005-12: Heads organising committee that delivers successful London 2012 Olympics

2012: Elected chairman of the British Olympic Association

Lord Coe believes that athletes are currently taking risks by cheating as the two-year ban does not take enough time out of their career to be a deterrent.

But the London 2012 organiser and current British Olympic Association chairman knows that lifetime bans are not possible.

The BOA, before Coe was elected chairman, had a policy of banning any British athletes from competing in Olympic Games for life if they had previously failed a drugs test.

However, in April 2012 the governing body lost its battle with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to keep the policy.

It allowed athletes such as Dwain Chambers, who failed a drugs test in 2003, to compete at London 2012.

“If I could bring lifetime bans in I would,” said Lord Coe.

“The legal inhibitor to be able to do that is profound. We are not going to be able to have life bans, they would be challenged and when we have done it we have lost.

“Four years does make people think, it is a big chunk of your career but two years with appeals is often only 18 months. Too many athletes have been prepared to take the risk.”

Fourth Jamaican athlete in four days admits dope test failure

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Olympic discus thrower Traves Smikle has become the fourth Jamaican athlete in four days to admit to having failed a doping test.

Smikle said the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) had informed him that a urine sample taken at the Jamaica National Trials in June revealed banned substances but he insists he has never knowingly taken illegal drugs.

“As an athlete, I must take responsibility for whatever is found in my body; however I wish to state that I did not knowingly or willfully ingest any banned substance,” the 21-year-old said.

“Personally, I am very saddened and surprised by these findings, as I have never attempted to cheat and have always considered myself an ambassador for the sport and a strong supporter of drug testing.”

Smikle represented Jamaica in the Olympics last year though did not reach the final.

He admitted he was “hurt and embarrassment” to fail a test and be the source of a new blow for Jamaican sport, still reeling from the news that high-profile sprinters Asafa Powell Sherone Simpson and fellow discus thrower Allison Randall all failed tests.

Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi pulls out of World Championships

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Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi has become the latest star name to pull out of next month’s World Championships.

The Algerian has failed to recover from a viral infection and he joins the likes of David Rushida – the Olympic 800m champion – and Yohan Blake in missing the Moscow event.

Makhloufi was a controversial figure in London last year. He was disqualified from the Games for not making a “boda fide effort” during his 800m heat in order to preserve his energy for the 1500m final.

He appealed and produced a doctor’s certificate which said he had an injury, and he was subsequently reinstated and went on to win gold.

He was taken ill in January in Ethiopa and has struggled since, finishing in eleventh in a Diamond League meeting in Eugene last month.

Women’s 1,500 metres champion, Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey, will also miss the world championships after failing a drugs test.

Leading sprinters Tyson Gay of the United States and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell are also out after drugs test failures.

Asafa Powell: Trainer refuses to be ‘scapegoat’ over dope test

Asafa Powell’s trainer Chris Xuereb says he should not be a “scapegoat” for the former 100m world record holder’s positive drugs test.

Powell and fellow sprinter Sherone Simpson tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican National Championships in June.

Xuereb rejected claims from Paul Doyle, Powell’s agent, that the results were due to supplements he had provided.

“I did not provide any banned or illegal substances,” insisted Xuereb.

“I am extremely disappointed that these athletes have chosen to blame me for their own violations.”

Asafa Powell

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Jamaican
  • Personal bests: 100m – 9.72 secs, 200m – 19.90 secs (world record, 9.74secs, 2007)
  • Medals: Olympics: 4x100m relay – gold (2008); World Championships: 100m – bronze (2004,2008), 4x100m relay – gold (2009), silver (2007)

Canadian Xuereb, who said his main role was “to provide soft tissue massage therapy as well as nutritional help” to Powell and Campbell, only began working with the pair in May.

On Tuesday, Doyle indicated that the supplements provided to the athletes by Xuereb lay behind Powell and Simpson both testing positive.

“We were trying to figure out what went wrong and it was pretty obvious to us where we needed to look,” Doyle told the New York Times. 

“There are many different things he was giving them and we still don’t know which one caused the positive test. Most of the supplements he gave were for recovery or energy during workouts.”

The last man to hold the individual 100m world record before compatriot Usain Bolt broke it in 2008, 30-year-old Powell has denied  he knowingly took any banned supplements or substances.

“It is time the athletes took responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat, whether that person is their therapist, bartender or anyone else,” said Xuereb.

“While I did recommend vitamins, all vitamins recommended by me were all purchased over the counter at reputable nutritional stores and were major brands.

“These athletes did not inform me that they were taking any additional supplementation other than what I recommended.”

He added that he believed the athletes had in fact been taking more supplements without his knowledge.

American Tyson Gay, the joint-second fastest man ever over 100m, was told on Friday that his A sample from an out-of-competition test in May was positive.

Both he and Powell are awaiting the results of their B tests.

Michigan State athletics strives to strike spending balance

A pecking order exists within every team.

There are superstars, significant contributors and role players.

Undoubtedly, MSU’s superstars are football and men’s basketball. Bringing in nearly $70 million between them, these programs pay for the other 23 sports MSU offers.

So as Spartan football fights for national prominence, should more money be invested in the Big Two at the expense of other sports? It’s a question MSU athletic director Mark Hollis asks himself regularly.

“All in all, I feel pretty good where we’re at,” Hollis said. “But you’re always worried as an AD of how you can continue to keep that balancing act going.”

The pressure for the football program to win and generate revenue is both enormous and business-like, as evidenced by Hollis wrangling to add $4 million to its $19 million budget. The school’s desire to provide athletic and academic opportunities for about 750 student-athletes plays a pivotal part in MSU’s overall mission of providing a broad-based college experience.

Can those contrasting philosophies coexist?

“We genuinely get that football and basketball have to be successful for anyone else to be successful,” softball coach Jacquie Joseph said. “There’s no disconnect there — we get that. That’s just the reality of it.”

A closer look

Michigan State offers 25 Division I varsity sports, near the Big Ten average of 24.667 per university. Hollis says most sports cost the athletic department between $500,000 and $1 million annually.

The last two programs cut were men’s gymnastics in 2001 and lacrosse in 1996. The last one added was women’s rowing in 1997. Hollis says there are no plans to eliminate or add more.

“I think having a broad-based program says a lot about your university,” he said. “I’m a proponent of opportunities. I think when you look around nationally, we’re becoming too professionalized as a college industry. If for no other reason, that’s something that I want to attempt to keep in place — as many opportunities as available.”

Yet there is no question college sports have become big business.

Since 2003, MSU’s athletic department revenues have grown by more than $29.1 million as reported to the federal Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Over the same time, MSU’s sports-related expenses have increased by $31.3 million.

Spartan athletics brought in $79,019,535 in 2011-12, the most recent year for which data is available. The revenue comes from a variety of sources, including ticket sales, donations, merchandise licensing, Big Ten bowl games and shared conference and NCAA television revenue.

MSU spent $73,173,261 to cover costs such as coaches salaries, scholarships, travel and game-day expenses.

According to NCAA-released figures gathered by USA Today, MSU is one of 23 Division I athletic departments that turned a profit that school year. Eight of those 23 schools were in the Southeastern Conference, seven in the Big Ten.

Football factor

When it comes to prowess in college football, both competitively and economically, most point to the SEC and Big Ten as the two preeminent powers.

The SEC had nine of the NCAA’s top 20 revenue-generating athletic departments in 2011-12, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics database. MSU ranked 30th, which puts it eighth among the Big Ten’s 12 schools.

Mark Dantonio’s MSU football program, by far, provides the most money in the university’s athletic department. It generated nearly $50 milion in revenue in 2011, while spending more than $19 million. That $31 million in profit is used to fund the Spartans’ other sports.

And 2011 capped two of the most successful years in football program history, both on the field and at the bank. The Spartans won 11 games twice, played in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, captured a bowl victory and produced a number of current NFL players. MSU’s football revenue also reached a record high while topping $45 million both years.

“I feel that we are one of the ones that have — we’re a have, not a have-not,” Dantonio said.

However, MSU’s football revenues ranked sixth in the Big Ten and 18th nationally, behind seven SEC programs.

Alabama, under former Spartans coach Nick Saban, ranked third in the nation in football revenues for 2011-12 at $81.99 million. Fellow SEC schools Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana State and Arkansas each brought in more than $64 million to rank among the top 10. Michigan, second in the nation at $85.2 million, was the only Big Ten football program among the top 10. Ohio State ranked 12th at $58.1 million.

With less revenue from football than some of his peers, Hollis’ annual task is figuring out how to divvy up the profits and keep MSU’s other sports programs competitive.

Slicing the pie

Hollis’ budgeting challenge gets a big boost from having a men’s basketball team with a prominent national stature.

Tom Izzo’s program brought in more than $19 million while spending close to $10 million in 2011-12, a surplus of more than $9 million. Men’s basketball has generated more than $54 million beyond its costs since 2003.

The only other MSU sport that turned a profit in 2011-12, per the OPE database, was baseball ($62,772), but Hollis says that was due to Drayton McLane’s donation for the building of the new baseball stadium.

Hockey and women’s basketball each spent more than $3 million in 2011-12, making them the third- and fourth-most funded MSU sports. Combined, they generated $2.77 million in revenue to offset some of their expenses. No other sport costs more than $2 million, and none of the remaining 20 programs bring in more than $450,000 in revenue.

“If you look around the country, we have what I would argue is a top-25 football program, a top-10 basketball program, the breadth of 25 sports, a market that’s not a major metropolitan area and a (football) stadium with 75,000 seats,” Hollis said. “It sure will be difficult to find a program that kind of replicates all of those different components.”

More than wins

Most of MSU’s sports — and those at other schools, regardless of market size — don’t exist to reap millions of dollars. Hollis readily admits that. They’re usually the teams that fewer fans notice. Yet they are an integral part of MSU’s athletic department.

Hollis says he uses a sliding scale in which he grades each program. It starts with success in the classroom and includes competing for championships. But it also entails staying within budget parameters and NCAA rules.

“I’m looking at quality of life for the student-athlete,” Hollis said. “Jud (Heathcote) argued that you couldn’t bring a kid into Jenison Fieldhouse in the summer and make them go to Michigan State. We still have sports that are in those positions, from a facilities standpoint and an operational funding standpoint.

“Therefore, I evaluate them differently than perhaps a fan would. They’re looking at one focus — the output — and not what goes into it, and not the other variables that we value at Michigan State.”

Communication, continuity and cohesion according to coaches within the department are the hallmarks of Hollis’ tenure since taking over as AD in 2008.

Yes, there have been championships. Yes, there have been failures. Yet his coaches point to Hollis’ ability to juggle the desire to compete in all sports with the department’s mission of emphasizing education.

And those coaches say they appreciate that Hollis isn’t viewing their programs’ progress merely in terms of wins and losses.

“Do I think what we’re doing here is successful? If you look at where we’re falling in the Big Ten, you’d probably say no from the outside,” said swimming and diving coach Matt Gianiodis, who arrived at MSU in 1997 and has been head coach since 2004. “But Mark’s really doing a nice job in this department, and I think he understands what’s really important.”

Hollis said his conversations with coaches includes “reality checks of where we’re at.” Because as go the two superstars, so go the Spartans’ other 23 sports.

“That balancing act — there’s kind of a joke among athletic directors that you want your programs to be really good but not too good. That reaches a point where your investment into programs rises,” Hollis said.

“I think our coaches have a good understanding that we want to strive for championships and Final Fours and bowl games — but they also know where the revenue growth is,” he said.Image

Sprinters Gay, Powell test positive for banned substances

ImageElite sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell tested positive for banned substances on a day of shame for athletics.

Gay, a former world champion from the U.S., said Sunday he was told by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that an A sample from an out of competition test taken in May came back positive.

Later Sunday, Powell, a former world-record holder from Jamaica, said he was caught for using the banned stimulant oxilofrine that showed up in a test at last month’s Jamaican trials.

Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson, too, revealed she was caught for doping.

Gay didn’t name the substance found in his system and added that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. He pulled out of next month’s world championships in Russia.

“I don’t have a sabotage story,” Gay was quoted as saying by Reuters. “I basically put my trust in someone and was let down. I made a mistake.

“I know exactly what went on, but I can’t discuss it right now.”

Gay and Powell, both 30, become the second and third high-profile track stars in a month to be embroiled in a doping scandal.

Two-time Olympic 200-meter champion Veronica Campbell-Brown was provisionally suspended in June after she tested positive for a banned substance.

The Jamaican sprinter reportedly had traces of a banned diuretic, which is used as a masking agent, in a sample she provided to testers at Jamaica’s International Invitational World Challenge in May.

British newspaper The Guardian reported the banned diuretic was from a cream she was using in an attempt to recover from a leg injury.

Gay was one of the athletes shown on USADA’s website as part of My Victory, “an initiative in the fight to preserve clean sport.”

In a statement Sunday, USADA said it “appreciates” Gay’s handling of the affair.

“In response to Mr. Gay’s statements, USADA appreciates his approach to handling this situation and his choice to voluntarily remove himself from competition while the full facts surrounding his test are evaluated,” it said.

“The B sample will be processed shortly, and as in all cases all athletes are innocent unless or until proven otherwise through the established legal process, and any attempt to sensationalize or speculate is a disservice to due process, fair play, and to those who love clean sport.”

Read: Hi-tech tests to catch drug cheats

USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel said it was “not the news anyone wanted to hear, at any time, about any athlete.”

“As we approach the world championships, we will remain focused on the competition at hand and winning the right way,” he said in a statement.

Gay posted the fastest time in the 100 meters this year when he clocked 9.75 seconds at last month’s U.S. trials in Iowa.

For an athlete who has struggled with injuries, it provided hope — and a possible challenge to sprint king Usain Bolt of Jamaica — ahead of the world championships in Moscow that begin August 10.

Gay won gold in the 100 and 200 meters at the 2007 world championships in Osaka but suffered a hamstring injury a month before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He didn’t make the 100-meter final.

Last summer at the 2012 Olympics in London, Gay finished fourth in the 100 meters, edged by fellow American Justin Gatlin — Gatlin once served a four-year ban for doping — by one-hundredth of a second for the bronze.

Powell held the world record in the 100 meters for three years prior to Bolt beating it in 2008. He was part of Jamaica’s victorious 4×100-meter relay team at the 2008 Olympics.

“I want to be clear in saying to my family, friends, and most of all my fans worldwide that I have never knowingly or willfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules,” Powell said in a statement as reported by the online version of the Jamaica Gleaner. “I am not now, nor have I ever been a cheat.

“This result has left me completely devastated in many respects.”

Powell could have been picked to compete in the relay in Moscow but acknowledged that now wasn’t a possibility.

Simpson, in a statement also reported by the Gleaner, said she tested positive for oxilofrine.

She won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens in the 4×100-meter relay.

“As an athlete, I know I am responsible for whatever goes into my body,” the 28-year-old said. “I would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form into my system.”