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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
What a joke.
“No one is above the law,” Chad A. Readler, the acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division, said Thursday in a statement that went out as the federal government settled its case with Lance Armstrong for $5 million.
“A competitor who intentionally uses illegal PEDs not only deceives competitors and fans, but also sponsors, who help make sporting competitions possible. This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable.”
No, it doesn’t. It shows just the opposite, and — though many of you think the the U.S. government is some big, bad beast that is intent on cleaning up the world of sports — this marks yet another episode where the feds are revealed to be, in a word, losers.
The big winner here? Lance Armstrong.
A few days ago, the International Tennis Federation announced that Spencer Furman, a top player at Duke, had been cleared in a doping case leveled after he tested positive last September 9 in the qualifying draw of the Atlantic Tire Championships, an ATP challenger, in Cary, N.C.
Long story short: Furman was using a prescribed ADHD medicine “to help him concentrate while studying at university,” according to the ITF release. This medicine, Vyvanse, contained a stimulant, D-amphetamine, on the banned list. Oops. He applied for a retroactive Therapeutic Use Exemption.
When agreed by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the anti-doping agency at issue, a retroactive TUE may be granted “on the grounds of fairness.” WADA so agreed. The charge was dropped.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly — exactly — the fact pattern that got the sprinter Justin Gatlin a one-year suspension when he was a college kid at Tennessee in 2001.
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach of Germany, was elected in 2013. His term is for eight years. The rules allow him a follow-on term of four more years. Presumably, he will win four more years. Thus he will be IOC president until 2025.
If you think it’s too early for the who-will-be-the-next-IOC president parlor game, you picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue. Be assured the politicking and positioning is already well underway — just as it was with Bach during the years that Belgium’s Jacques Rogge was IOC boss.
The IOC is a European institution. Thus odds are its next leader will be European, just as — again — Bach succeeded Rogge, and Rogge succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain. For now, keep your eyes on, in no particular order: Switzerland’s Patrick Baumann, secretary general of the basketball federation FIBA and head of the LA 2028 coordination commission; Belgium’s Harvard MBA-trained Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Viejant, head of the Paris 2024 coordination panel; the increasingly influential Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., currently the IOC first vice president; and Nenad Lalovic, head of the wrestling federation UWW and, now, like Samaranch, a member of the IOC’s policy-making executive board.
Keep in mind that just four-plus years ago, wrestling’s future as an Olympic sport was in serious doubt.
Now Lalovic, a businessman from Belgrade, Serbia, who orchestrated its return to the fold, is a member of the IOC’s most powerful inner circle — as the representative of the more than two dozen Summer Games sports.
A few days before the start of the 2018 Winter Games, the Dalai Lama, who runs a fascinating Twitter account, put this out there:
“Many people,” his holiness said to his 18.2 million followers, “think that patience is a sign of weakness. I think this is a mistake. It is anger that is a sign of weakness, whereas patience is a sign of strength.”
These words of wisdom carry particular resonance now amid what is — let’s be blunt here — the rush to judgment in some quarters directed at the U.S. Olympic Committee sparked, of course, by the horrific crimes committed by Larry Nassar.
All institutions can be better. For sure the USOC can be.
Anger, though, is not helpful. Patience — and a regard for the facts — is, as ever, the sign of real strength.
In his under-appreciated gem of a 1982 song, “Highway Patrolman,” Bruce Springsteen offers this memorable line: “Man turns his back on his family, he just ain’t no good.”
It’s worth considering these words anew as we wait for the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport to release its “reasoned decision” in the cases of 28 Russians cleared of doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, because that tribunal is the first to get to weigh fully the cross-examination of star witness Grigory Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov is also one of the stars of Icarus, recently awarded an Academy Award. And the star of much of what has been reported for more than two years now in the New York Times about the Russians.
BIRMINGHAM, England — The men’s 400 meters here Saturday night at the 2018 world indoor track and field championships was awesome. Until, suddenly, it was not.
Spain’s Oscar Husillos crossed the line in a championship-record 44.92, followed by Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, the London 2012 400 silver medalist. Husillos was instantly met with precisely the sort of joyous theater that track and field needs: a rooting section made up of dudes in costumes, a banana, a cow and (Batman sidekick) Robin, who dashed to the grandstand railing and threw him a Spanish flag.
And then it was announced that both Husillos and Luguelin had been disqualified for lane violations — the latest victims in a tsunami of ticky-tack DQs that have swept over these championships.
Why does track and field insist on such buzzkill?
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About Alan Abrahamson
Alan Abrahamson is an award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst. In 2010, he launched his own website, 3 Wire Sports, described in James Patterson and Mark Sullivan's 2012 best-selling novel Private Games as "the world's best source of information about the [Olympic] Games and the culture that surrounds them." Read full bio.