IAAF president Lamine Diack, left, alongside vice-presidents Robert Hersh and Dahlan Jumaan al-Hamad at the 2013 world championships in Moscow // photo Getty Images

IAAF president Lamine Diack, left, alongside vice-presidents Robert Hersh and Dahlan Jumaan al-Hamad at the 2013 world championships in Moscow // photo Getty Images

Track and field

Why Stephanie Hightower is up for IAAF council

Political and organizational culture can be a famously difficult thing to articulate. But as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said in a very different context, you know it when you see it.

What’s coming this summer at the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, is a “climate of monumental political change,” according to a memo sent out Saturday from the USA Track & Field board of directors. And that, it says, is why Stephanie Hightower, not Robert Hersh, is unequivocally “the best candidate for 2015 and beyond” to be nominated for the U.S. seat on the ruling IAAF council.

Leo Manzano at the 2014 USATF championships // photo Getty Images

Leo Manzano at the 2014 USATF championships // photo Getty Images

Track and field

USATF and the notion of homework

For years, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field were the two reliable punching bags in the American Olympic scene. The problem at both was much the same: constant management turnover and an unwieldy governance structure, each encumbered by a board of directors numbering in the triple digits that created an environment rife with petty politics.

Over the past several years, both have turned it around. But with USATF in particular, there remains a dissident cohort for whom seemingly nothing seems to be good enough. Case in point: there’s a new, professionally produced commercial featuring several track-and-field stars, and it’s even airing on network television. This has to be a huge win, right? Exposure for a sport that needs it? For some, apparently not.

USATF board chair Stephanie Hightower at IAAF meetings this past July in Oregon // photo Getty Images

USATF board chair Stephanie Hightower at IAAF meetings this past July in Oregon // photo Getty Images

Track and field

USATF voices: a call for passion, civility and common sense

Eight years. That’s what Jon Drummond got Wednesday for multiple doping violations. Where are the howls now — and where have they been, because everyone had to know something of this magnitude was coming — from the athletes who filled the room just two weeks ago in Anaheim, California, at the annual USA Track & Field athletes advisory committee meeting, where Drummond was improbably still the chair of that very committee? There’s been silence, mostly, and that is just incredible. No, not incredible. Wrong. Where is the outspoken condemnation? For real? Where is it?

Contrast that with the criticism and anger that emerged from some, if not many, at the end of that very same USATF convention. The USATF board voted to put forward federation chairperson Stephanie Hightower for the IAAF council slot at elections next year despite a floor vote for Bob Hersh. This produced raw emotion. Why? Sexism? Racism? Petty personality politics? Some combination of all three? Or something altogether else? The intensity is all the more mystifying given USATF’s fantastic financial performance and the wholesale changes underway at the IAAF level.

Eugene 2019 bid leader Vin Lananna presses the case to the IAAF while, to his right, USATF board chair Stephanie Hightower and chief executive Max Siegel listen in // photo courtesy IAAF

Eugene 2019 bid leader Vin Lananna presses the case to the IAAF while, to his right, USATF board chair Stephanie Hightower and chief executive Max Siegel listen in // photo courtesy IAAF

Track and field

When a two-vote loss is reason for optimism

MONACO — No, Eugene did not win the 2019 track and field world championships.

That it came within a swing of two votes, however — losing in the second round of voting to Doha, 15-12 — has to be seen as an encouraging sign on multiple fronts for U.S. interests, and in particular for USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The winning team. That's decathlon team Ashton Eaton back left and distance champ Hicham el Guerrouj back right.

The winning team. That's decathlon team Ashton Eaton back left and distance champ Hicham el Guerrouj back right.

Track and field

Portland wins 2016 world indoors

MONACO — The U.S. team has long been No. 1 in the world in track and field.

Hosting the world in track and field? Not so much. The U.S. has not played host to a major championship since 1992, in Boston. Before that, Indianapolis staged the world indoor championships, in 1987. Of course, Atlanta and Los Angeles put on the Summer Olympic Games. That was 1996. And 1984.