We are less than a week from the start of the Olympics. But rather than talking about the athletes, the main story continues to be doping. More specifically, the topic is the failure of the current anti-doping systems. On this week’s podcast we bring on guest Pierre-Jean Vazel. As both a journalist and elite sprinting coach, Vazel has a unique perspective on the topic. We discuss how we got into this current mess, issues with the current system, and what hope we have for moving past these mistakes. Read more
Man, it’s been a long time! I’ve spent many months focused on making another Olympic team. I’ll sum up my experiences at the Olympic Trials quickly, and get to my blog. Read more
Nick is easily irritated, and sometimes he needs to let off some of that steam. On this episode we dive into a few of Nick’s most recent rants and pet peeves on a wide variety of topics. Read more
Imagine a sprinter ran 9.58 seconds at an obscure all-comers meet, then shows up in Rio running 10.10 seconds. You would be an idiot not to ask questions about a performance drop off like that of more than 5%. Perhaps the track was short; maybe the wind gauge was faulty; or even that the athlete was not subject to rigorous out-of-competition drug testing. There could be legitimate reasons for the drop off too: the athlete could now be injured, or just choking more than anyone in history. Either way, such a deviation requires some type of explanation. Unfortunately, these types of performances happen all the time in our sport and no one asks about them. It is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Read more
In an era when coaches are searching out more and more objective data to evaluate training, master coach Dan Pfaff has been using more and more subjective data to assist him. Subjectivity has been given a bad reputation lately, but it offers many advantages to coaches: it is cheap, it is easy to implement, it saves time, and can often times be more accurate. On this episode of the podcast Pfaff joins us to discuss the role subjective feedback plays in his training. Plus, for track fans, we discuss some of the failure of the Diamond League’s new rules for field event athletes. Read more
Tomorrow the World Anti-Doping Agency will release the McLaren Report, which will provide a detailed look at allegations that arose in May regarding systemic cheating by Russia to win medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. While the main focus is on winter sports, it is expected that the report will take a broader look at Russian doping practices across many sports. These allegations will no doubt be used by the IAAF in defending its decision to ban Russia track and field team from the 2016 Olympics. Russia no doubt is doing things wrong, but don’t let us be distracted from the fact that the IAAF is equally culpable. The IAAF needs to implement major changes if track and field has any chance of being cleaned up. Read more
Earlier this morning Sergej Litvinov was informed by the IAAF that his application for exceptional eligibility to compete at the 2016 Olympics was declined along with 66 other athletes. (The rejection did not address all of the grounds for exception raised in Litvinov’s 13-page application, and we are in further communication with them to clarify these points.) In reading through the decision, some initial social media reactions, and media reports it is clear that the big picture is being overlooked. With that in mind, I’ve put together a primer on the topic that helps put the Russia doping issue in context. Read more
Editor’s Note: Earlier this week we published an open letter from Sergej Litvinov to Lord Sebastian Coe. Many view all Russian athletes as hiding behind their federation. However some athletes like Litvinov do not want to hide. Below is an email exchange between Litvinov and the IAAF.
After the IAAF removed him from their doping pool last year, Litvinov requested inclusion in the pool and asked why he, as a world-class thrower, would no longer be subject to any effective anti-doping systems. The IAAF pointed out to him that he would still be subject to RUSADA, although at this time RUSADA has already been suspended for more than two weeks by WADA. Litvinov has continued to voluntary submit his whereabouts to the IAAF since leaving the doping pool last year.
Editor’s Note: Last week the IAAF announced that the Russian athletics team will not be eligible to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games due systemic doping issues. Sergej Litvinov is the Russian champion in the hammer throw and placed 5th at last year’s World Championships. This week he wrote the following letter to Lord Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF, asking what he can personally do to compete again.
Dear Lord Coe,
When it was announced that the Russian team will be banned from the upcoming Olympics last week, the common reaction here in Russia was denial mixed with anger. Many top athletes and officials continue to deny the scope of the problem and are angry that Russia is being singled out while similar issues exist in many places across the world.
I am not in denial. Read more
The latest buzzword in athletics is innovation. Our sport seems to have taken on the Silicon Valley mantra “innovate or die”; if we keep the status quo we will become irrelevant. This is true to some extent, but if we look at how it is implemented our sport is often just changing for the sake of change and not necessarily making our sport better. The latest bright idea out of the establishment is a new change to the Diamond League:
In the horizontal jumps and throwing disciplines, all participants will now have three attempts, and only the top four at that stage will have a further three.