Posts

How the IAAF Missed the Target With Its Qualification System

When the IAAF changed its qualifying system a few years ago, one of the major goals was to provide a better method to estimate and cap athlete participation throughout all events. The prior qualification system used in London resulted in the IAAF being more than 10% over the athlete quota given to them by the International Olympic Committee. The new system tried to remedy this by making the standards much harder so that fewer athletes qualified, and then handing out special invitations if any surplus existed. With such a system the IAAF would be able to hold its quota, and perhaps prepare itself for potential future reductions to that quota as a result of new IOC President Thomas Bach’s Project 2020. Read more

What Can the IAAF Learn from Cycling

My father is an amateur cyclist and, as a result, I grew up spending every July watching the Tour de France. Each time a doping or corruption scandal rocked the sport, I was thankful I competed in a cleaner sport: athletics. We had dealt with our doping issues in the 1980s, I naively thought. Sure, there were still dopers in athletics, but we were ahead of the cyclists. I even wrote an anti-doping editorial for the Seattle Times as a young athlete in 2000, and was convinced by those in my sport that the doping problem was improving. Read more

Who Will Be On the Rio Podium in 10 Years?

Over the past week new Olympic medalists were crowned in track and field. We’ve seen dramatic performances, amazing back stories, and new stars emerge. But while the competition on the field has finished, unfortunately the results have not yet been finalized. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 61: Anti-Doping (with Pierre-Jean Vazel)

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

HMMR Podcast Episode 59: Subjective Feedback (with Dan Pfaff)

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

7 Facts About Doping And The Russian Situation

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

Please Test Me

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.
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An Open Letter to Sebastian Coe (by Sergej Litvinov)

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

Episode 46: Chasing Excellence (with John Godina)

When I was first starting out as a shot putter, John Godina was THE man in the sport. His technique was smooth as silk and he simply did not lose. After setting the still standing NCAA record, winning four world titles and two Olympic medals, Godina finally hung up his shoes in 2008, but that was not his end in the sport. He since founded Altis, which he now runs as CEO. Altis has grown as a training center with more than 100 elite track and field athletes and a coaching center featuring a growing education program. On this episode of the podcast he joins us to discuss some of the lessons he has learned from his career of chasing excellence in every pursuit. Read more

In Defense of 6 Attempts

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.

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