WADA reinstates Russia: the time is now for solution

WADA reinstates Russia: the time is now for solution

For all the noise in some quarters of the press and from some athletes’ groups, the World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday did the right thing and reinstated Russia. 

Yes, the right thing.

This drama has been going on long enough. At some point there needs to be closure. That time is now. 

Of course, the Olympics are rooted in a set of ideals. But the Olympic movement operates in the real world. The real world is about more than just morality. It’s also about all the things that make our world go around, especially where sport and and government intersect, a myriad of interests that include politics, diplomacy, business and hard cash, and to pretend otherwise is silly.

An Israeli take on the Sandy Koufax Yom Kippur story

An Israeli take on the Sandy Koufax Yom Kippur story

In the 1965 World Series, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers famously decided not to pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. 

Over the past 50-plus years, the Sandy Koufax Yom Kippur story has been told and re-told. It gets told at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, at Friday night dinner tables, at weddings, at Passover and, this is also key, at the 4th of July, over turkey at Thanksgiving and with, say, friends by their Christmas tree. The reason for all this telling is simple. Sandy Koufax proved at the 1965 World Series that American Jews could be both American and Jewish. You didn’t have to choose. You could be both without sacrificing either.

Now comes Dan Kremer, who is Israeli and Jewish, and the World Equestrian Games, which are ongoing now in a little town in the western North Carolina mountains called Tryon — assuming Hurricane Florence doesn’t get there — and, as it turns out, Israel for the first time on the international stage has put together a show jumping team with an eye toward someday making the Olympics, the WEG jumping competition is scheduled for Yom Kippur, September 19, and Dan Kremer made it plain that, just like Sandy Koufax, he could not and would not take part on Yom Kippur.

All of which raises a fascinating series of questions. 

Larry Probst steps down as USOC board chair

Larry Probst steps down as USOC board chair

It’s not surprising that Larry Probst has announced his intent to step down as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee.


The only twist is the timing.


Many close observers believed Probst, 68, who has been in the post since 2008, might see through his third four-year term — that is, through the Tokyo 2020 Games. 


Instead, the USOC announced Monday that Probst will step down at the end of the year. Susanne Lyons, who served as acting chief executive from the end of February through mid-August, will succeed him. Her first four-year term starts Jan. 1. Sarah Hirshland has taken over as CEO.


To be honest, if I were Larry Probst, I would leave now, too. Any reasonable person would.

Next steps: esports at the 2018 Asian Games

Next steps: esports at the 2018 Asian Games

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A world record is a big deal, right? In any sport, right? On Sunday, Iran’s Olympic champion, Sohrab Moradi, broke weightlifting’s longest-standing world record.

Competing in the snatch in the men’s 94-kilogram class, Moradi lifted 189 kilos, or 416.6 pounds — one kilo better than the old mark, 188, set in 1999 by Greece’s Akakios Kakiasvilis.

Big news in Iran, for sure. Maybe Greece, too. 

So you want to know why weightlifting is on the ropes as an Olympic sport and esports is crazy hot?

The scarlet Safe Sport letter

The scarlet Safe Sport letter

Everyone can agree sexual assault is repugnant.

At the same time, the bedrock principle of American justice is innocent until proven guilty.

It’s unclear if that bedrock principle has found itself into the SafeSport rules.

The many tensions in the rules — if not some of their most vivid flaws — have come yet again into focus amid the emotions stirred by a SafeSport case involving one of the Lopez taekwondo clan.

Shocking (not): back to Eugene for the 2020 track Trials

Shocking (not): back to Eugene for the 2020 track Trials

The new Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, is a track and field-specific venue. 

Without the U.S. Olympic track and field Trials in 2020, and then the world track and field championships in 2021, what would you would have in the new Hayward?

A complete albatross.

So — lack of surprise — USA Track & FIeld on Thursday announced the Trials are heading back to Eugene in 2020.

The story the IOC should be selling

The story the IOC should be selling

From the time we crawled out of the muck and mire, we human beings have told each other stories. It’s the way we make sense of our world. It’s also the way we give voice to our hopes and dreams.

The International Olympic Committee, for reasons that mystify, does not know how to tell a story.

This is why, yet again, it is getting its ass kicked in the candidature process, now for the 2026 Winter Games. Two cities are already out. Five remain in but none definitively. 

Pardon the bluntness but, really. This does not need to be this way. 

Ryan Lochte, Madisyn Cox -- now, what will Lilly King say?

Ryan Lochte, Madisyn Cox -- now, what will Lilly King say?

Suddenly we have two — two — top athletes out of this week's U.S. swimming national championships. For doping-related reasons.

What will Lilly King say?

Ryan Lochte got himself suspended Monday, again, this time for 14 months, and every time one thinks the Ryan Lochte story has taken a weird-enough twist it just gets weirder.

And then there is Madisyn Cox, who is out for two years and whose case bears remarkable similarities to that of the Russian Yulia Efimova. That's right. The same Efimova who King decided to make the villain in a Cold War-style doping drama that far too many people lapped up as if it was Rocky and Ivan Drago.

Imagine the glee this week elsewhere, and particularly in Russian media. Two Americans! This is where, again, it's useful to remember that as an American athlete on the world stage a healthy dose of humility goes a long way.

Reminder: you don't see Katie Ledecky, ever, calling anyone out.

Signs, signs, everywhere signs: the esports revolution is coming to the Olympics

Signs, signs, everywhere signs: the esports revolution is coming to the Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Thomas Bach has been president of the International Olympic Committee for nearly five years now, and one of his pet phrases is thus: “We have to get the couch potatoes off the couch.”

Prediction, and cue the screams of the traditionalists: the couch potatoes are very likely going to shape, perhaps significantly, the 2028 Los Angeles Games. 

The esports revolution is coming, and fast, for it cannot and will not be stopped, and indeed the gamers are almost surely going to help propel a thorough and long-overdue review — if not, indeed, the start of a re-do — of the Olympic program. That next-generation program is coming, in 2028 and LA.

“It’s the passion that really gets us together,” Bach told 21-year-old Jake Lyon, a professional gamer for the Houston Outlaws in the Overwatch League, as part of a Friday and Saturday forum dedicated to esports.  

A gold medalist in fencing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Bach told Lyon in a remarkable one-on-one, nearly hour-long breakout session Saturday morning at the Olympic Museum, both having shared on stage the emotion that comes with championship and victory, “We feel the same passion for your activity as you feel the passion for our activity.”

This double standard: judo federation says, enough

This double standard: judo federation says, enough

What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned swim meet and a white kid from Canada or the United States or Germany or Norway decided he would not even come near the pool because one of the other competitors was a black racer from South Africa? Imagine the uproar — that’s totally not OK!

What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned track meet and a Hindu runner from India said, no, not even gonna go onto the track because the young woman in the next lane is a Muslim from Pakistan. People would go, what — you can’t do that?!

What if they held an Olympic-sanctioned gymnastics meet and a teenage American girl said, no, not going anywhere near that balance beam because the teen whose feet touched it just before me was North Korean? The mob would be on fire, saying that’s not the Olympic spirit and, besides, what does such geopolitical tension have to do with a sports competition, especially one primarily involving teenage girls?

The three key Olympic values are respect, excellence and friendship. The entire Olympic notion is premised on fair play: no discrimination on grounds of race, religion, gender or politics. When the athletes of the world come together and connect, the ignorance and prejudice that too often fuels stereotype and misconception can fade away, yielding to the essential truth that we — human beings, each and every one of us — are more alike than we are different.

Yet for years, there has been one double standard that has emerged time and again. It is applied, and ferociously, to Israel and Israeli athletes.