Track and field

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.

Track and field World Cup: 'fixture' or one-off?

Track and field World Cup: 'fixture' or one-off?

LONDON — Keep it simple, stupid, Bill Clinton would have advised, and here is the problem with track and field, exemplified with this weekend’s first Athletics World Cup back at Olympic Stadium

This meet sought so desperately to be so many things — too many things — to so many people on so many levels. 

Organizers tried to put together a world-class meet in about six months though the schedule of world sport is already jammed to the max, the calendar of track and field is itself a mess and, maybe, most of all, it’s unclear how a meet like this can draw the world’s best runners, jumpers and throwers in a way that everyone — and in particular, a wide range of athletes — can make money. Real money.

That last bit requires a further set of questions, all fundamental. Track and field is a professional sport. What is a reasonable payday? For a star? For someone who is in his or her first pro meet? For someone who, say, runs the open 400 meters as opposed to someone who runs but a leg in a relay? For someone who pulls double duty? Should the pay standards be different for track athletes and those in the field events? 

Switching gears: who thought a trophy should cost $400,000, and why?

So many threads. Pull, and it’s clear why the tapestry of track and field is at once so beautiful and so frayed.

The track and field calendar is a shambles, ugh

The track and field calendar is a shambles, ugh

Mike Rodgers ran the 100 meters in 9.89 seconds in the preliminary rounds of the U.S. track and field national championships Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

It was the fastest 100 meters, anywhere in the world, so far in 2018.

This raises several questions.

Why is Rodgers running that fast in — the prelims? 

Why, moreover, is a 33-year-old Mike Rodgers running in the 9.8s again after a 2017 that saw him run a best 10-flat and a 9.97 in 2016?

Rodgers ran 9.92 in Prague on June 4. And — here is the inexplicable thing about professional track and field — it has to be asked: why he is running that fast in 2018? For what reason?

Pride gets no one paid. Respect is awesome, and 9.89 is respectfully quick. But, again, track is a professional sport. 

And this is what in track circles is called an “off-year.” There’s no Olympics, no world championships. 

A Duke tennis player's case and fairness for Justin Gatlin

A Duke tennis player's case and fairness for Justin Gatlin

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.

So?

So what?

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. 

A wave of DQs: why does track and field insist on such self-inflicted buzzkill?

A wave of DQs: why does track and field insist on such self-inflicted buzzkill?

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.

Great stuff.

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? 

Track and field already has great stories. It doesn't need a savior

Track and field already has great stories. It doesn't need a savior

BIRMINGHAM, England — Predictably, the American sprinter Christian Coleman is already being hailed as the next this, the next that, already being asked if he can run 100 meters faster than 9.58 seconds.

What is it about track and field, this almost-desperate need -- in some if not many quarters -- to anoint someone as savior?

No one is savior. No one needs to be the almighty. It’s an unfair ask. Who, alone, carries a sport in baseball, basketball, football, hockey or soccer? Why, then, track and field?

Coleman, just 21, is an outrageous talent. A few weeks ago, at the U.S. nationals, at altitude in Albuquerque, he broke the world indoor record for 60 meters, running 6.34 seconds. On Saturday night, here at the 2018 world indoor championships, he went a championship-record 6.37, five ticks faster than Mo Greene's 6.42 from 1999.

Leadership in action -- and a call to action, too

Leadership in action -- and a call to action, too

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the Caribbean. Only one word describes the two storms: catastrophic.

There is the financial toll. In Puerto Rico, estimates are it may cost as much as $95 billion to recover. That’s billion with a b. 

The structural. It’s already three months-plus since September. Yet basics such as electricity and internet service, for instance, are hardly a given in many of the string of islands in the Atlantic Ocean lashed by the storms. The first time Steve Augustine, president of the British Virgin Islands track and field federation, had seen a working television since September was Sunday night here in San Juan, when he arrived for a Monday meeting.

The emotional. Godwin Dorsette, from Dominica, broke down in tears at that very meeting. “I’m a brave man. I’m a very strong person,” he said. “But I was afraid.”

Across the Caribbean, track and field is unquestionably a — if not the — leading sport. With that in mind, the sport’s global governing body, the International Associaton of Athletics Federations, on Tuesday announced a $500,000 “solidarity fund” aimed at helping those member federations that were pounded by Irma and Maria and, as well, by Hurricanes Harvey and Jose.

Zero facts implicating Justin Gatlin -- that's a 'scandal'?

Zero facts implicating Justin Gatlin -- that's a 'scandal'?

In 1964, the United States Supreme Court decided a case called New York Times v. Sullivan. It established, in libel law matters, what is called the “actual malice” standard.

Before you start rolling your eyes and getting anxious about a bunch of legalese, relax. This is not complicated. Libel, at its core, involves a published statement that damages someone’s reputation. What the Supreme Court said is this: if you publish something about a public official or a public figure, it is “actual malice” if you do so knowing it is false or if you acted in what the court called a reckless disregard for the truth.

This brings us to the American sprinter Justin Gatlin, and the report published Monday in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph. There is zero question Gatlin is a public figure. Can there be any question the lengthy story the Telegraph printed was aimed directly at Gatlin, and his reputation? 

A Hero's once and future story

A Hero's once and future story

It’s late August. NFL pre-season is underway. Major League Baseball is in full swing. Yet the No. 1 topic across American sports talk radio, just as it has been seemingly all summer, is the NBA, now whether the Lakers and Magic Johnson have nefariously been up to no-good in flirting with Paul George.

The NBA — and by extension, basketball, which is huge internationally — is doing a lot of things right. It has stars. It has personalities. A game is an experience. You go expecting buzz. There's music, lights, cheerleaders (Lawrence Tanter, Showtime, “Laker Girls …”), a kiss-cam and, if a team gets it right like the Chicago Bulls did, a super-cool mascot.

This brings us to track and field, the just-concluded IAAF world championships in London and Hero the Hedgehog.

'The Meet,' London July 2018: one night, two hours, nine events

'The Meet,' London July 2018: one night, two hours, nine events

In life, you have to capitalize on momentum and opportunity. Think of it like running a relay in track and field. It’s a lot easier to succeed when you have a running start.

Track and field is at such a moment, coming out of the 2017 IAAF world championships in London, which featured sell-out crowds at Olympic Stadium, breakthrough performances by the British relay teams and, as well, a U.S. team that won a record 30 medals, including a historic 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase that went viral on social media.

With that as backdrop, British Athletics and USA Track & Field on Wednesday announced a one-night, your team against my team throw-down next summer, back at Olympic Stadium.

Organizers are calling it “The Meet.”