Pat Connolly has been at the top of the sport both as an athlete and as the coach of top sprinters like Evelyn Ashford and Allyson Felix. On Wednesday I posted the first part of my interview with her, where we discussed her general philosophy, the importance of repetition, and specific training methods. In this part she continues to discuss mental training, the differences in coaching men and women. We finished by getting her thoughts on doping. Having been involved in the sport since steroids were first introduced, Pat was one of the first vocal anti-doping advocates, having even testified in front of Congress to lobby for support. But the sport has evolved and so have her thoughts on the issue, which she describes below. Read more
For the past few months, the IAAF has been embroiled in the latest of its many doping scandals. Last week, President Sebastian Coe unveiled a road map to restore credibility to the sport. If you were waiting for new ideas to attack a long festering problem, you will no doubt be disappointed. While Coe recommended doubling the doping budget, what they would do with that money is more of the same. The major issue in this most recent case is first and foremost that corruption made testing ineffective, not that there were too few tests or too little budget. Read more
Since the recent doping report was released, I have toed the line between outrage at the Russian federation and athletes, to feeling sorry for the athletes involved. Outrage because this is something long suspected; I never thought I’d see justice on such a mass scale in my career. Sorrow because I’m sure a great many of the athletes don’t have a choice. I’ve heard stories where athletes are given ultimatums. Read more
Rather than talking about training methods or training plans, this roundup brings together some great articles and quotes on equally important topics that build the foundation of a coach’s approach: the importance of multidisciplinary learning and other soft skills that go into coaching. Take a read below. Read more
All the talk about doping in sports, specifically the newest revelations in track and field, will push many to believe that all elite athletes are using drugs to enhance performance. Anti-doping is struggling to keep pace in an infinite war. The thing that I’m here to tell you is: DOPING DOESN’T MAKE ATHLETES, it makes them perform better. Doping control is doing a good job at snuffing drugs out, but we’ve created a bigger problem. Our mindset about how much doping there is. A problem that compounds the doping conundrum is when elite athletes are involved. What exacerbates the issue more is that we look to elite athletes as the models, dare I say “role models” for our sport. It has been proven that the more a topic is discussed via mainstream media, the more awareness comes to that topic. Read more
Track and field realized it had a doping problem long ago; if Ben Johnson in 1988 wasn’t a wake-up call for those final fans pleading ignorance, then they were never going to wake up. Since then track and field has been on the path to recovery, but I do not think anyone envisioned it would take this long. Read more
At the end of June I wrote about the absurdity of the IAAF men’s hammer throw standards. Now that the qualification period has closed we can see the extent of the damage done. Last year in London 42 athletes competed. This year, if each country sends the largest possible team and there are no new injuries, an estimated 26 athletes will compete at the World Championships. Only four countries will have more than one athlete: Russia, Belarus, Hungary and Poland.
My first post talked about how unrealistic standards are in comparison to historical results and how these standards exclude potential finalists and medalists from the competition. In addition, the standards discriminate against the hammer because funding and sponsorship decisions are often based upon the IAAF’s standards. Both of these points are equally valid for all field events, it is just that the hammer has been hit particularly hard.
But there is also an elephant in the room when we start talking about standards: illegitimate marks. The standards are so high that many athletes throw qualifying marks at competitions with questionable validity or doping control procedures. This, in turn, helps the IAAF justify higher standards. This is a bold statement for me to make, especially since I have only anecdotal evidence to back it up, but while many other elite athletes allude to the problem on Facebook no one is willing to come out and say it. The reason I want to speak up is because if the Diamond League included the hammer throw I think this problem would nearly disappear.
Let me start by saying I refused to watch the Oprah interview. Armstrong is a master manipulator and I feel this is another attempt to manipulate public opinion. I have been following the whole Armstrong affair with great interest. I have read most of the books. For a very long time I was in a very small minority because I always felt he was dirty. Read more