Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Alan Abrahamson
Financial documents, it is often said, are boring.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
They provide a wealth of clues about the performance and direction of whatever entity is at issue.
What the U.S. Olympic Committee’s annual tax filing, its Form 990, made public Wednesday, underscores — yet again — is that, under the direction of board chairman Larry Probst and chief executive Scott Blackmun, it has reversed years of chaos and infighting and traded that for security, stability, growth and zero turmoil.
In combination with the medals tallies from the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games — the U.S. teams won the overall counts at both Olympics, with 37 in 2010 and 104 in 2012 — these are, in many ways, glory years for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Now comes the next step: the USOC is quietly moving to forge partnerships within the international Olympic movement. Probst is thought to be a candidate for IOC membership, perhaps as soon as this year; meanwhile, he and Blackmun have, since 2010, assiduously been at work at relationship-building, and the USOC is eyeing a bid for the Summer 2024 or Winter 2026 cycle, probably 2024.
All this is rooted in the comfort of the documents that underpin the USOC”s standing. (more…)
Published on May 13th, 2013 | by Alan Abrahamson
Cycling’s international governing body, which goes by the acronym UCI, “did not protect” Lance Armstrong as he cheated his way to the seven Tour de France titles that have since been stripped from him, a new file prepared by the federation asserts.
“Every decision by the UCI concerning Armstrong — and indeed every other rider — was taken in compliance with the known facts and with the science available at the time,” says the file, sent out Monday to national cycling federation presidents, describing the UCI as a “pioneer” in the anti-doping campaign and “at the forefront” of “many new technical advances.”
In an accompanying letter, UCI president Pat McQuaid declares, “For the past 20 years, the UCI has done everything possible in tackling the scourge of doping in sport.”
UCI president Pat McQuaid // photo: Getty Images
The exuberance of these declarations, and the timing of the file, must be understood in context. McQuaid is in a reelection campaign, and most of the Olympic world, including the International Olympic Committee executive board, will be gathering in two weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia, for what’s called the SportAccord convention.
Pardon the oxymoron but this is, in essence, a belated preemptive strike. (more…)
Published on May 11th, 2013 | by Alan Abrahamson
They held a track meet Friday on a typically warm and balmy evening in Doha, the opening Diamond League event of the 2013 season. It was sensational.
American long jumper Brittney Reese, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, sailed out to a personal best, 7.25 meters, or 23 feet, 9 1/2 inches. It was the best jump by an American in 15 years.
Another London gold medalist, David Rudisha of Kenya, won again, in 1:43.87, considerably slower than his world-record 1:40.91 at the Games. That was to be expected for an early-season outing. Even so, he beat Mohammed Aman of Ethiopa — who had beaten him last year in Zurich — by more than half a second.
In the women’s 400, Amantle Montsho of Botswana defeated Allyson Felix in a rematch of their thrilling encounter at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea; Felix hadn’t lost in Doha in 10 races but, then again, hadn’t run the 400 in a meet since Daegu. Montsho crossed Friday night in 49.88, Felix in 50.19. Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu, the London silver medalist, took third, in 50.53.
In all, there were 11 world-leading performances. More than two dozen Olympians made the meet.
Olympic champion Brittney Reese competing in the long jump in Doha // photo courtesy 2013 Doha Diamond League
The focus Friday in Doha was on track and field. Nothing else. It just goes to show — again — that when given a chance, the Qataris know how to put on a big-time sports event where the athletes are front and center.
It’s a mystery why so much of the world — still — views what is going on in Doha with such suspicion.
It’s as if having money is a bad thing.
That is stupid thinking and ought to stop. (more…)
Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Alan Abrahamson
Thomas Bach announced his candidacy Thursday for the International Olympic Committee presidency.
It’s not news, really, that he’s running. The only issue was the timing.
Everyone in Olympic circles has been mindful for years that Bach has been interested in the top job. Indeed, he is, by most accounts, considered the front-runner for the presidency. Now comes the time to find out, with the election Sept. 10 in Buenos Aires, if being the front-runner, indeed announcing first, proves smart campaign strategy.
Thomas Bach at the news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, announcing his intent to run for the IOC presidency // photo: Getty Images
“I didn’t want to keep other members in the dark any longer,” Bach said at a news conference in Frankfurt, according to wire service reports. “I think it is the right time.” (more…)
Published on May 7th, 2013 | by Alan Abrahamson
The next president of the International Olympic Committee, whoever it will be, takes over an organization that is, in these early years of the 21st century, at a crossroads.
By many indicators, one would look at the Olympic movement and see positive trend lines. The Games in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 were memorable, indeed. The five rings are, without question, one of the world’s top brands. The IOC itself seems to have weathered the global economic downturn.
At the same time, the pace of change in today’s world is ever-increasing and the paramount challenge facing the movement is not merely to remain a source of connection and inspiration. Bluntly, and above all else, it’s to remain relevant.
The new president will be elected in September at an all-members IOC assembly in Buenos Aires. He — the presumed candidates are, at this moment, all men — will replace Jacques Rogge of Belgium, who has served as president since 2001.
The potential candidates are believed to include, in alphabetical order, Thomas Bach of Germany, Sergei Bubka of Ukraine, Richard Carrión of Puerto Rico, Ser Miang Ng of Singapore and C.K. Wu of Chinese Taipei.
Mr. President-to-be, you did not ask for a Top-10 list of what you need to do when you set up shop on Day One at the Chateau de Vidy, the IOC headquarters by Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland. Please consider this merely an early expression of goodwill in the form of constructive suggestion, along with a healthy measure of good luck — because, sir, you’re going to need that, too.
1. Be a thought leader
There is a lot to be said for making money. Every other sporting concern — the soccer leagues, American football, the NBA, the NHL — is there to make money. But that’s not what the Olympic movement, and by extension the IOC, are about. The movement stands for a set of ideals, and for values such as excellence, friendship and respect. The Games are the expression of those ideals and values, and at their best they produce moments that remind us of the best in each of us. As IOC boss, given that you get to meet with presidents, prime ministers and with school kids, too, your job is to promote those values. Relentlessly. Creatively. The mission is not to organize good Games. That’s too narrow. Instead, it is to make the ideals and values shine so brightly that they draw in young people and communities. The money will follow. (more…)