Vin Lananna

A SoCal-style, must-see Trials: Trackchella!

A SoCal-style, must-see Trials: Trackchella!

All along, the good people in Eugene, Oregon, have said that the dream has been to grow the sport of track and field in the United States of America. Follow the logic. That means: Eugene as the base but, you know, get it out of Eugene.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field made it emphatic: dreams can come true.

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in track and field will be in Los Angeles, at Mt. San Antonio College, the USOC and USATF announced.

If a track meet happens in the forest, does it make a sound?

If a track meet happens in the forest, does it make a sound?

The 43rd edition of the Prefontaine Classic went down over the weekend at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Pre is purportedly the leading professional track meet in the United States, the only American stop of the year on the world track and field tour, what is now called the Diamond League.

Eugene, for those who have never been, is surrounded by foothills and forests — literally, forests — to the south, east and west. Thus this philosophical question: if a track meet happens in the forest but it barely makes a sound anywhere else, then — what?

How to make the Trials (even) better

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EUGENE — Now we know exactly how many super-hard core track geeks there are in this little college town, the self-proclaimed track capital of the United States: 2900. That’s how many people showed up Wednesday to watch the women’s hammer throw inside historic Hayward Field.

For the men’s hammer, later Wednesday, the crowd swelled to 4200.

Look, they tried. Again, the hammer throw took place inside Hayward. That’s called thinking out of the box.

Women's hammer champ Amber Campbell at the Trials // Getty Images

As these 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials move past the halfway mark, the meet — indeed, the experience — has by almost any measure not only met but surpassed expectations. Until a cloudy and then rainy Thursday, even the weather had cooperated — Oregon’s high blue skies providing a brilliant canopy for the tableau below, and performances like Justin Gatlin’s best-in-the-world-in-2016 9.80 seconds in the men’s 100 meters.

Even so, with the spotlight on for the second half of the meet, now is not the time to declare that all in the track and field universe is well.

Because these Trials, aiming toward the 2016 Olympics and beyond, to the 2021 world champioships back at a refurbished Hayward, are just the start.

Now is precisely the time, amid the glow of these Trials, to think about how — in the interest of making track and field that much more viable — to make the next editions of the Trials, in 2020 and 2024, that much more attractive.

For emphasis, these Trials have left little to be desired. Don’t have a ticket? Come watch on the big screen behind Hayward and listen to a live band. Not in Eugene and want to watch? Livestreams galore.

Even so, the U.S. track and field Trials could be so much more.

For starters, this meet not only could — but should — be six days, not 10.

For another, fairness and decency — along with TV appeal — demand a review of any number of standards, in particular field sizes and qualifying procedures, both for the Trials and the Olympics themselves.

Case in point:

Rudy Winkler, a 21-year-old college kid from Cornell who competes in Clark Kent-style glasses, won the men’s hammer, with a throw of 76.76, or 251-10. He does not know whether he will be invited to go to Rio. That’s not only counter-intuitive but insane.

The reason: the complexity of track and field’s rules. At the Games, there’s a field of 32, per the sport’s international governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations. No American thrower, pre-Trials or at the meet, met the Olympic qualifying standard. Now Winkler, and the 2-3-4 finishers, must wait to see whether they get a Rio invite.

Another example:

In men’s javelin, both Cyrus Hostetler and Curtis Thompson broke the meet record in going 1-2. Hostler is Rio bound. Thompson — not.

Normally, of course, it’s top three.

But Thompson doesn’t have the Olympic qualifying standard, 83 meters, 272-3. He threw 82.88, 271-11, a lifetime best. And 12 centimeters short.

Riley Dolezal was third, 79.67, 261-4. Third is good. But not, in this instance, good enough for the Olympics.

Hostetler went 83.24, 273-1. So he’s good.

So is Sam Crouser, who took fourth, with 78.06, 256-1. He had the standard coming in.

Who else is good? Sean Furey, who took 11th, with 69.45, 227-10. That’s nearly 45 feet back. But Furey met the standard in June 2015.

So — first, fourth and 11th are en route to Rio.

How is any part of that supposed to make sense to the average person or the would-be fan?

A couple more examples:

But for a handful of athletes, the women’s hammer throw amounted essentially to an all-comers meet. That’s fine for an all-comers meet. But not the Trials.

On Thursday, they ran three first-round heats of the women’s 1500. This gets a little complicated.

There were three flights of 10. Three dropped out before the start, for various reasons — Kate Grace won the 800 and passed on the 1500, for instance. So 27 women raced for 24 spots in Friday’s semifinals. One of the three who ended up not making it: Sarah Brown, who gave birth just four months ago, seemingly her every move here being documented by a film crew.

A crash in the first heat knocked down Alexa Efraimson and Rachel Schneider. They got up and ended up qualifying on time, 4:14.4 and 4:22.94. Brenda Martinez, who got tangled up with Alysia Montaño in Monday’s 800 and didn’t make top-three in that event, won the second heat in 4:23. Then came the absurdity of the third round: 10 women, each of whom had run 4:10 or faster just to make the Trials, had to run just 4:22 to advance.

In sum — that third heat of 10 eliminated no one.

That’s beyond silly.

As for the three heats Monday in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase — after just two laps in each round, a sizable margin had opened up between the leaders and stragglers. Again, these are the Trials, supposed to be a test of the best.

What needs to be struck: the balance between the Trials between a culminating high-performance event and the kind of thing where people get to go home and say, I took part at the Trials.

The approriate revisions could, would, should and ought to bring all the drama of the Trials to the place it should be — the Trials.

Emma Coburn crossing the line in the steeplechase // Getty Images

Shot put champ Michelle Carter // Getty Images

Brianna Rollins leading her 100 hurdles heat // Getty Images

Like Thursday’s women’s steeple final. Emma Coburn won, in the sixth-fastest time ever, 9:17.48. At the bell lap, Stephanie Garcia had been second. She ended up tripping on the final barrier and finished fifth. Courtney Frerichs, 9:20.92, and Colleen Quigley, 9:21.29, went 2-3.

Like the women’s shot put earlier Thursday: Michelle Carter, one of the sport’s class acts, won on the final throw, 19.59 meters, 64 feet 3 1/4 inches, to qualify for her third Olympics.

Also Thursday, the heats in the women’s 100 hurdles. Coming into the U.S. Trials, 11 of the top 15 performers this year had been Americans. Keni Harrison, the American record holder (12.24 here in Eugene in late May), went 12.57 in the first heat. In the fifth, 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins, the former record holder (12.26, 2013 U.S. championships), went 12.56.

Whether the 2020 Trials are here in Eugene remains an open question. The 2000 and 2004 Trials were in Sacramento; the 2017 national champioships will be there, too. Even so, in preparation for 2021, the odds would have to favor being in Eugene in 2020 — just as in 2008 and 2012 as well.

For 2024, much depends on whether Los Angeles wins those 2024 Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee will pick the 2024 winner in September 2017 at a meeting in Lima, Peru. Also in the field: Paris, Rome and Budapest.

Looking ahead, the big-picture audience is not Eugene. Or, just to be obvious, those 2900 people.

The mission has to be how to grow track and field beyond the geeks.

This has been the avowed goal of both Max Siegel, chief executive of USA Track & Field, and Vin Lananna, president of the local Eugene organizing entity, called TrackTown, who is also head coach of the U.S. 2016 men’s track and field team.

As Lananna put it, it’s to “really grow the awareness of today’s track and field heroes” nationwide.

Siegel, in a news conference Tuesday, noted that when he took over four years ago, he had two overarching goals for USATF — organizational stability and driving innovation.

Stability: USATF’s annual budget is now $36 million, twice what it was four years ago.

Now it’s time to delve, big time, into the innovation.

Part of this involves changing the three-ring circus atmosphere that attends far too many meets, including the Trials.

On Thursday, for instance, the men’s triple jump prelims, with 2012 Olympic champion Christian Taylor, were being run at the same time as the heats — over on the track, literally a few feet to the right — of the women’s 100 hurdles. Same issue later Thursday: on the track, women’s 400 hurdles  and, in the infield, men’s discus and run-throughs for the women’s triple jump.

Pick a day, almost any day, and it’s the same challenge: on Sunday, the men’s long jump competed for attention with the women’s high jump, featuring 32-year-old Chaunte Lowe and teen sensation Vashti Cunningham.

For the average fan, this presents a logical dilemma: where to look, and when?

Part of the solution: tighter scripting of the show flow. That's what this is. It's a show.

Part of it, too, involves reconfiguring the meet as entertainment. Again, that’s what it is. The purists are still going to show — how about a little 21st-century reach-out?

The swim Trials, just concluded in Omaha, featured fireworks, a waterfall, a sound-and-light show, individual athlete introductions, rock music and showtime bits on the big screen that the sold-out audience ate up — ongoing banter between pool-deck hosts (and former Olympic medalists) Brendan Hansen and Kaitlin Sandeno and, most nights, a crowd dance-off.

Here — brief athlete intros, yes. The rest? Why not?

At NFL games, there’s a flying camera. Here, no. Why not?

Track and field is statistics-heavy. Like football, baseball and, in the Olympic context, swimming. Yet at the swim Trials officials make readily available a day-of-event listing that provides individual athlete biographies as well as essentials such as records and Olympic histories.

The track Trials — no such thing. Why not?

Moreover, there is no iPhone or Google Play app that would make, say, such stats and results immediately availble to fans in the stands. Why not? It’s 2016, not 1972.

And then the production glitches that you’d think should be so obvious — at these Trials, the loud music from that soundstage frequently drowns out news conferences in the media tent just feet away. All sports, and particularly track and field, depend on story-telling. How to tell those stories when you can’t hear a word?

This problem was exactly the same in 2012. Complaints must have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe from that music.

For all these observations, the biggest thing that needs to be assessed is the length and scheduling of the meet.

This means both the daily and overall runs.

An evening at the swim Trials runs to two hours, maybe just a little more.

Consider Thursday’s Hayward schedule. It is profoundly unrealistic to expect the average fan — maybe with kids in tow, and track and field assuredly wants to reach out to young people — to show up at 3:30 p.m. and stay until roughly 8 p.m., when the women’s steeplechase wrapped up.

Thursday, Day Seven, at Hayward

After nearly a week of brilliant weather, the rain arrived Thursday in Eugene. That didn’t help. But it rained during the 2012 Trials, too, and it’s simple common-sense that rain in Oregon is always a distinct possibility.

In non-Olympic years, meanwhile, the U.S. outdoor championship runs to only four days.

The Trials go on for 10, with a formal off-day in the middle.

If the reason for that is to benefit hotels, restaurants, bars and the Eugene Chamber of Commerce — that’s not a good reason. This is a track meet, not a convention.

If the idea is to mimic the Olympic schedule — the four-day meet produces world championship teams that win plenty of medals over the more-extended run.

These Trials started, sort of, last Thursday with a 20-kilometer walk in Salem, the state capital. The formal opening ceremony took place last Friday here at Hayward.

So: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

Off-day Tuesday.

Wednesday: hammer throw, women’s and men’s.

Now the final four days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

If four days is unrealistic for a Trials, there’s no good reason not to consider shrinking 10 days to six. Doing so would considerably reduce costs for virtually all stakeholders: athletes, fans, officials, the local organizing committee, USATF, TV, media and, not incidentally, law enforcement and security.

Six days is eminently do-able. Here is one plan of how it could work:

Day One and Two: 100, 400 as well as prelims in 800. The 10k could go on One, heats of the 5k on Two.

Day Three and Four: 400 final, 400 hurdles prelims, 200 prelims, 1500, 800 finals.

Day Five and Six: 200, 400 hurdles, 1500 and 5k finals.

Decathlon: Days One and Two. Heptathlon: Four and five.

Steeple: Days One and Three, Four and Six (men’s/women’s, or vice-versa).

Javelin:  One and Three, Four and Six.

Discus: Two and Three, Four and Five.

Hammer: One and Two, Five and Six.

Triple jump: One and Two, Three and Four.

High jump: Two and Three, Five and Six.

Long jump: Three and Four, Five and Six.

Pole Vault: One and Two, Four and Five.

Shot put: Five.

This does not need to be rocket science. Track and field is a sleeping giant. But like most things, it would work better with a heaping dose of common sense.

Change for better at USATF: believe it

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EUGENE — Jackie Joyner-Kersee is arguably the greatest female American track and field athlete of all time. Competing across four editions of the Olympics in the long jump and the heptathlon, she won six medals, three gold. Before Max Siegel took over as chief executive of USA Track & Field, Jackie Joyner-Kersee had never — repeat, never — been invited to USATF headquarters in Indianapolis.

Let that sink in for a moment.

“I don’t want to believe the design was to leave people on the outside,” Joyner-Kersee said here amid the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. “It was just business as usual. It became normal. You think that is the way it is supposed to be.”

Culture change is about the most difficult thing there is to effect, all the more so in the Olympic sports sphere.

Max Siegel, USATF chief executive, at Tuesday's news conference // Errol Anderson

At work now — in real time — is a profound culture shift for the better at USATF, which is, as Siegel put it Tuesday, both the economic engine and the governing body of track and field in the United States.

Of course there are critics, non-believers, doomsayers.

All constructive criticism is more than welcome, Siegel observing that such observations can “point out our weaknesses” and thus be “really healthy for us.” He added, “People should continue to express their criticism, their concern and hopefully their praise for the organization.”

To be sure, USATF is far from perfect. No institution is perfect. No institution can ever be perfect.

At the same time, praise where praise is due:

USATF, long the most-dysfunctional federation in the so-called U.S. “Olympic family,” has — in the four years since Siegel took over — taken concrete, demonstrative steps to become a leader in the field.

True — by virtually any metric.

Joyner-Kersee: “Change is hard. Most of the time, you don’t see change until years down the road. But there are certain things that are being put in place where, at the beginning, you might not understand why. But when the moment comes, you see it’s working out.”

For the first time in recent memory, these 2016 Trials are what they should be: a commemoration of the sport’s vibrant past as well as a well-run production at go time with an eye toward the future, in particular the 2021 world championships, back here at historic Hayward Field.

The evidence is all around Hayward, and Eugene:

Here was John Carlos, the legend from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, singing autographs.

One of many pics from John Carlos' Sunday at Hayward // John Carlos Facebook page

Here was Adam Nelson being presented the 2004 Athens Games shot put gold medal in a Hayward ceremony. Nelson, who had initially finished second, was moved up to gold when Ukraine’s Yuri Bilonoh was, to little surprise, confirmed a doper. In 2016, Nelson got what he deserved — a ceremony before thousands cheering for him, and for competing clean. Then he went out and tried to qualify for the 2016 team, making the finals and finishing seventh. All good for a guy who on Thursday turns 41.

https://twitter.com/AdamMcNelson/status/748907838584463362

https://twitter.com/ryanmfenton/status/750129069384019968

Here, during the next-to-last lap during a prelim in the men’s 5,000, came the javelin champion Cyrus Hosteler — waving an American flag, racing exuberantly down the curve and the homestretch in the outside lane while the pack zipped by on the inside.

Here, too, behind Hayward have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of kids racing in the “little sprinters” section. Or outside the stadium — kids and grown-ups trying their luck at throwing the shot.

All of it amid the county-fair smell of kettle corn, and under brilliant blue skies.

Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown, the local organizers, who is as well the 2016 U.S. Olympic track team men's head coach, said much strategizing had gone into what he called two “common themes — bringing the athletes into close contact with the fans and introducing as many boys and girls to running, jumping and throwing as possible.”

He also said, “It is my hope that by shining a spotlight on certain events, by working hard to attract boys and girls to the sport, and by celebrating the amazing heritage of our athletes at these 2016 Olympic Trials, that we’ll really grow the awareness of today’s track and field heroes in the mind of Americans.

“And I hope that by 2021, when the world comes to Oregon for the IAAF world championships, the stars of Team USA are household names. I’m sure that on the final night of these Trials we’ll be strategizing about what next steps we can take to make that happen.”

At this point, the skeptic cries — wait. NBC sent Bob Costas to Omaha last week for the swim Trials. There Costas interviewed the stars Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.

Is Costas in Eugene? No.

Then again, on Sunday alone, U.S. athletes set seven world-leading marks; the hashtag “#TrackTown16” trended globally on Twitter; the USATF production team launched its first Snapchat story; and three of the five top trending items on Facebook were the U.S. track stars Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt and Justin Gatlin.

USATF will send a team of roughly 125 athlete to Rio, roughly a quarter of the entire U.S. delegation. Halfway through these Trials, 50 track and field athletes have been named. Of those 50, 35 are first-time Olympians. In these disciplines all three qualifiers will be first-timers: men’s and women’s 800; men’s pole vault, men’s long jump, women’s discus.

It’s all quite a change from four years ago.

Siegel had just taken over just weeks before as CEO. The 2012 Trials were marked by a bizarre dead-heat in the women’s 100 that became a worldwide source of ridicule. Plus, there was the weather.

As Siegel said Tuesday in a state-of-the-sport news conference, “It is a lot different for me. It was raining and I was in the middle of a dead heat a couple weeks on the job.”

Lots of things are indisputably a lot different.

Watching the Trials: either from the Hayward stands or picnic-style

Welcome to the team -- the athlete reception room for USATF Rio processing

Trying on uniforms -- here at team processing

First and foremost, USATF used to run with an annual budget of roughly $16 to $18 million. This year, it’s $36 million — the product of 17 new deals in the past 48 months, including 12 new corporate partnerships.

Has USATF figured out how to make track athletes the kind of money NFL or NBA players get?

No.

But, working in collaboration with its athletes’ council, chaired by long jump champion Dwight Phillips, for the first time an athlete who makes the U.S. national team gets $10,000 along with bonuses of up to $25,000 for Olympic gold medals. That’s all in addition to dollars that can come from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Does that automatically make a track star a millionaire? No.

Is it a start? Yes. Just “scratching the surface,” Siegel said.

And, as Siegel pointed out, it’s reasonable to ask whether it’s fair to compare, on the one hand, track and field with, on the other, the NBA or NFL.

The pro leagues are for-profit enterprises. Moreover, they are unionized.

USATF is a not-for-profit entity. Plus, its charge is to serve not only elite athletes but also a variety of grass-roots programs.

“The conversation gets a little cloudy when people have whatever their personal definition is about sharing money with athletes,” he said. “If you host an event that gives an athlete a platform, some would say that’s not money in the athlete’s pocket. But someone needs to fund those things.”

Which leads directly to the central point.

When he took over, Siegel said, he saw two primary objectives: to effect organizational stability and to drive innovation.

Another innovation nugget: Wednesday’s hammer throw competition, to be held inside Hayward, will be available via desktop, tablet, mobile and connected TV devices. Here is the livestream link for the women's competition. And the men's.

Most important:

For the first time in maybe ever, USATF can pronounce itself stable.

Nothing — repeat, nothing — is possible without that stability, and anyone who is being reasonable would have to acknowledge that much of the criticism that attends USATF comes from those who for years have accepted intense variability as part of the landscape, often seeking to leverage that instability in the pursuit of petty politics or otherwise.

Before Siegel took over, Nelson said, “No one trusted the leadership,” adding, “When that trust is broken, a power grab goes on.”

He also said, “There is a culture change happening. There have been major changes at work at USATF in the last four years.”

Hawi Keflezeghi, the agent whose clients include Boris Berian, runner-up in the men’s 800, recently sent Siegel an email — quoted here with permission — that said, in part, “Your commitment to elite athletes through the high performance program is evident & greatly appreciated,” adding, “Thank you for all your efforts & leadership.”

Keflezighi, in an interview, said, speaking generally about the state of the sport, “If you are quick to criticize, be quick to acknowledge the good that is going on, too. Be objective enough to see it.”

Nelson, referring both to track and field generally and USATF specifically, said, “This is a family, and I genuinely mean that — even when a family fights, even when a family disagrees.

“But for a family to survive, you have to find ways to break down those barriers and re-establish communication.”

This is the key to Siegel’s style. And why USATF is on the upswing.

For students of management, he alluded to four different facets of his way in his Tuesday remarks.

One: “My style is not to discuss [in the press] things that are happening or resolutions that need to be made in the privacy of business.”

If you think that means he’s not transparent — wrong. All in, Siegel spent 50 minutes Tuesday at the lectern, half of that answering any and all questions. Beyond which, the USATF website holds the answer to almost every organizational or financial question.

Two, he and chief operating officer Renee Washington place a tremendous emphasis on — as much as possible — working collaboratively with the many stakeholders in the USATF universe.

The athlete revenue distribution — or sharing, if you like — plan?

“We worked collaboratively and painstakingly and long, and put in a collective effort with [the athlete council] … to come up with a system that was fair,” Siegel said, adding, “We continue to work in a fluid manner to improve it.”

Three, Siegel and Washington are quick to credit others.

USATF staffers, he said, “work tirelessly, are equally as passionate, care about the sport and wake up every day trying to do the best job possible.”

At Tuesday’s event, he singled out, among others in the room, Duffy Mahoney and Robert Chapman in the high performance division; and the four-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond, who has the complex job of overseeing logistics, travel and uniforms for international teams.

Too, he said, “I can not say enough about our partners at TrackTown and the city of Eugene.”

Four, Siegel can approach problems with either a macro or micro approach — whichever is, depending on the situation, most appropriate.

Micro: “We have been trying really hard to pay attention to small details that people don’t see,” he said, down to the way team uniforms get packed in the bags, with care and attention, evidence of “what it feels like to be treated with dignity and respect and the kind of importance that an athlete deserves.”

Macro: “For us as a community, for all of us who really love track and field, who would love to see the sport grow, it is not rocket science: people have to want to consume the product. You have to have people who are willing to buy tickets to the event, sponsors who are willing to spend money, people who are willing to spend merchandise.

“As a community, I would love to change the tone of our conversation. To figure out, OK — true, this is where we are falling short. But what do we do as a community to make sure that our sport is front and center with all the other properties out there?”

Change can be hard. But it can also be good. When it's right in front of your face, you just have to see which way it's pointing, Joyner-Kersee saying, “With that change, now you have athletes wanting to know: where is the office?”

Portland 2016: a track and field innovation lab

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PORTLAND, Ore. — For as long as anyone might remember, the mantra in track and field has been: well, that’s the way it has always been done. The 2016 world indoor championships, which concluded Sunday after a four-day stand at the Oregon Convention Center, offered a different take. Here, it was: let’s try something new.

“Innovation,” Max Siegel, the chief executive officer of USA Track & Field, “doesn’t happen by accident.”

It’s a function, he emphasized, of collaboration and resource: “You have to have a deliberate plan. You have to plan to be innovative, and then when you come up with an innovative idea you have to have an effective plan to execute the idea.”

The track was green. With the house lights down, the athletes entered down a ramp as their names were called out, one by one. The medals were, for the most part, awarded not onsite but at a downtown square that had been turned into a live-music and party venue. During the championships, a (mostly rock) soundtrack kept the beat to what was what on the track and in the field (special shout-out to the excellent DJ who threw Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” out there during the men’s masters’ 800).

The party at Pioneer Courthouse Square // photo TrackTown USA

Siegel at Thursday afternoon's opening news conference, at Pioneer Courthouse Square // Getty Images for IAAF

Did it all work? For sure not. A meet session should be two to two-and-a-half hours, max. Too often it went three-plus.

Did enough of it work, however, so that there’s reason, for the first time in a long time, to think that track and field at least stands a chance — again, a chance — of breaking out of its bubble and emerging over the next few years, particularly in the United States, as more than a niche sport?

For sure.

Even the highlight moment of the championships — Ashton Eaton bounding over in his warmups from the long jump pit to congratulate his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, for winning the pentathlon — was, though thoroughly unscripted, at least allowed for.

Organizers timed it so that husband and wife would be on track at the same time.

“When you know you have these possibilities,” said Paul Hardy, competition director for track’s worldwide governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, “you start thinking about creating a timetable that allows for these special moments.”

He added a moment later, “That’s how we’re now looking at it — how we present the sport.”

He also said, “We need to introduce things. Hopefully they’ll work. If you don’t try anything, you never know if it works. If it doesn’t, you can try for the next time. if it does, hopefully we can improve it even more.”

Even friendly police

The vibe was so overwhelmingly positive in Portland that even the police proved smiling, friendly, accessible.

That, too, was by design.

“Community engagement,” as police nationwide like to call it, is “a huge priority for us right now,” Portland police Sgt. Greg Stewart, the department’s acting spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

“Nationally with the police — it really is a contentious time. Police and community relations are maybe not what they should be. The chief,” Larry O’Dea the city’s police chief for the past 16 months, “is really working to make sure that’s a focus for us.”

When the police are cool, anything’s possible. Even in track and field, right?

Some is just easy: the kiss-cam (or smile-cam, whatever), a staple at other major events? Why not?

But why not think really out of the box?

What about re-configuring the set-up so that, in the same way that fans sit court-side at an NBA game, they can sit immediately along the track?

At the Kentucky Derby, thousands of fans crowd the infield. It’s not because they know the life story of every one of those horses, or could remotely care. Absolutely there would have to be some re-thinking of how that might work in track, since the infield is literally where those field events are competed — but why not turn a track infield into the same kind of party zone?

“No idea is stupid,” Hardy said. “If you don’t get people to throw ideas around, you’re never going to get anywhere. We can take ideas from other sports. We can learn from people who follow the sport. We are definitely open.”

As Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, the local organizers of Portland 2016, said, “You can’t be afraid to think big.”

He observed: “The best example is American football. How many real football fans know everything about football and go to the stadium to watch a football game? A lot of it is social.

“We don’t do it in track. We make it impossible. It’s long. It’s often boring. The announcers don’t relate. There’s no music.

“We’re getting there little by little,” he said of the 2016 world indoors. “This is a good start.”

Lananna at that Thursday afternoon news conference // Getty Images for IAAF

Coe at Thursday night's opening ceremony // Getty Images for IAAF

These championships marked the first world championships with Seb Coe, elected last August, as  IAAF president.

Coe, recognizing that track’s demographics trend older than younger, has preached relentlessly that the sport must innovate — in everything from presentation to social media.

“If you’re going to innovate,” Coe said, “a lot of it is going to work but you have to recognize that some of it is like the Paris fashions — not everything is angular, jagged, outrageous. Some of Paris fashion week is inevitably going to end up on a coat hanger in a retail store. But you do need to start somewhere.

“This for me is absolutely crucial: we must give federations, we must give organizing committees, permission to think out of the box and not sit there thinking, ‘I am going to look silly if it doesn’t come off.’ Because some of it is not going to come off.”

Part Two in a three-piece Oregon trilogy

These 2016 world indoors also made for the second act in a three-part Oregon world championship track and field trilogy keyed by TrackTown, in partnership with, among others, USATF. Understand, for instance, that these indoors don’t happen without the significant financial investment of USATF.

Part one: the 2014 world juniors in Eugene. Part two: Portland 2016. Part three: the 2021 world outdoor championships, back at a rebuilt Hayward Field.

There’s more: the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials will be back at Hayward.

Plus the NCAA Division I track and field championships — they have been at Hayward the past two years, will be there this year (June 8-11), indeed will be there every year through at least 2021.

This summer is due to see the launch of the TrackTown summer series meets.

Little appreciated amid the first world indoor championships in the United States since 1987: the IAAF had to want to come. One of the reasons it did so: the IAAF meetings around the 2014 Eugene world juniors, thanks to the efforts of USATF chief operating officer Renee Washington, were arguably best-ever. A detail that might seem small but really isn’t, like the translation services — it was made a priority, not not an afterthought.

The IAAF noticed.

“There is no one person who can single-handedly take all these people stuck in the fact that [the sport] has been done a single way,” Siegel said, emphasizing, “It takes a collective effort of like-minded people to effect any vision.”

From the get-go, the point of emphasis from all involved was that the 2016 world indoors had to be more than simply a track meet.

The audacious goal was to stage “the best indoor meet ever held anywhere in the world,” Lananna said last Wednesday with the idea of sparking what Coe on Thursday called a “reawakening of track and field in this country.”

That kind of thing is, by definition, going to take time.

So an immediate verdict is, again by definition, all but impossible.

Attendance figures suggest, however, that something must have clicked — the OCC, capacity 7,000, was essentially sold out for all three night events, and even the Friday morning session, competing against an Oregon State NCAA March Madness basketball game on TV, drew 4,087.

On Saturday evening, demand was so intense that organizers added— thank you, Portland fire marshal for being so accommodating — temporary seats and allowed for standing-room only. The total: 7,173.

Sunday, much the same: 7,191. Friendly ticket “brokers” could be seen looking for business outside the convention center.

The four-day attendance total: 39,283.

A huge boost to the atmosphere: the U.S. team ended up with 23 medals overall. Runner-up Ethiopia had -- five. France, four. Nobody else had more than three.

The fundamental challenge

Putting aside doping and corruption issues, for which the sport has justifiably earned headlines in recent months and years, the fundamental challenge is easy to identify: track and field is arguably the only sport in which multiple events are going on simultaneously.

On Sunday, for example: the men’s long jump, women’s 5k and women’s high jump (won a few minutes later by U.S. teen sensation Vashti Cunningham) were all going on at exactly the same time.

American Marquis Dendy, long jump winner // Getty Images for IAAF

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia crosses the line to win gold in the women's 5k // Getty Images for IAAF

American teen Vashti Cunningham in the high jump // Getty Images for IAAF

How to best present or package that? Production, story-telling, engaging an audience — particularly newbies or casual fans?

At the same time, track and field is without question the most diverse, most global, sport anywhere anytime. It’s also fundamental. Virtually everyone, at some point, has done the run, jump or throw thing.

The 2016 championships drew roughly 500 athletes from more than 140 nations — roughly two-thirds of the countries in the world.

That’s the good.

The not-so: no Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix, Mo Farah (though he did show up to watch), David Rudisha and, of course, given the status of the Russian team amid doping sanction, the pole vault diva Yelena Isinbayeva.

British distance champion Mo Farah, who often trains in the Portland area, watching Friday night's men's 1500 heats with daughter Rihanna // Getty Images for IAAF

Germany's Kristin Gierisch, a silver medalist in Saturday's triple jump

The convention center pre-track build-out // photo courtesy TrackTown USA

Construction underway: note the wall on the right that had to go // photo courtesy TrackTown USA

Ready to go // Getty Images for IAAF

"Feels Like the First Time" -- thanks, Foreigner

The no-shows missed the transformation of the convention center in just 12 days to a world-class track and field venue.

And, beyond the rock soundtrack (Foreigner: “Feels Like the First Time” during the Friday men’s 1500 heats), a series of other major markers, many of which drew from a series of inspirations.

— The pole vault, men’s and women’s, as a by-themselves package on Thursday night, with hundreds of kids allowed onto the banked 200-meter track to watch.

Organizers were rewarded three times over. First: both winners were London 2012 Olympic gold medalists, the American Jenn Suhr and Renaud Lavillenie of France. Second: for the first time ever in the same competition, four women went over 4.80 meters, or 15 feet, 9 inches, Suhr winning in 4.90, 16-0 3/4. Third: Lavillenie, after setting a new indoor championships record on just his third jump, 6.02, 19-9, made three (unsuccessful) tries at a world record, 6.17, 20-2 3/4, electrifying the crowd.

The Lavillenie victory, moreover, provided emphatic evidence that, for all its challenges, track and field remains indisputably at the intersection of real-world politics and sport -- why it's so relevant in so many nations. French president Francois Hollande, on Friday posted to his Twitter account a message that read, in idiomatic English: "Congratulations to Renaud Lavillenie for his second world title! Here's to a great Olympic Games in Rio!"

In the manner of the pole-vault meet that now-IAAF vice president Sergey Bubka used to run in his hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine, stand-alone events would seem a key to the future of track and field.

USATF, for instance, made the hammer-throw at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials a signature event, held — before 5,000 people — at the Nike campus outside Portland. In 2014, the U.S. nationals saw the shot put go down on the California state capitol grounds.

Now: what about featuring that women’s high jump? On, say, the Vegas Strip? Or the Champs Élysées in Paris? Or the riverfront Bund in Shanghai?

— Those athlete entry ramps.

Swimming has long done the athlete intro big-time, with swimmers coming out from behind a partition to lights and music. Track tried that at the World Relays in the Bahamas in 2014, and again last year. Now, the ramps.

Another logistical (and time-saving) advantage: no stripping off the warm-ups in the lanes right before the start of a race.

Coe, noting that the indoor format lends itself more easily to experimentation, said, “Enough [new ideas have] come off here to make a big difference already.”

At the same time, as he noted, and this question about the ramps was rhetorical, not signaling an opinion, “Will that work on a Friday night in London when it’s 48 degrees?”

Norway’s Svein Arne Hansen, president of the European Athletics Assn., emphasizing that he, too, is a big proponent of trying something new, noted with a wry smile about turning down the house lights for athlete introductions: “I cannot turn down the lights at Bislett,” the annual summer stop in Oslo. “It’s sunlight.”

— A digitized scoreboard for the horizontal jumps.

You could see, not just have to imagine, what record a particular jumper might be going for. What a concept.

— Locals operating food trucks as an alternative to arena hot dogs. Voodoo Doughnuts!

— Uber as a sponsor, an example of integrating new, and cost-effective, technology.

Normally, an organizing committee has to find a car sponsor or rent a bunch of cars to create a dedicated carpool system. With Uber — Uber provided the carpool. If you wanted a ride — well, you know how Uber works.

— The make-over of Portland Courthouse Square downtown into the place for medals, music and more.

The nightly medals ceremonies focused on the athletes, a key for Lananna and Coe. Lananna said, “You take youth and connect them to their great heroes. That’s what it’s all about — that next generation.”

A clear logistical benefit to moving the ceremonies offsite: carving time out of the rundown at the track itself.

The offsite medals plaza has many roots — see the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games, for instance. Or the party vibe each summer at those Bislett Games in Oslo.

The vibe at the square: Portlandia from the start. At the opening news conference there last Thursday, Coe didn’t wear a tie, the first IAAF event in years at which the president did not wear a tie. Neither did Lananna. Nor Siegel.

Again, all quite deliberately.

“It has been a good event,” Hansen said Sunday as the championships came to a close. “The music. The atmosphere. Excellently organized.”

And, at least for four days, in a nod to the wave of doping and corruption headlines, he said, “We don’t talk about [the bad stuff] anymore.”

Coe in charge, track at an inflection point

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Let’s get the joke out of the way early. For a sport savaged by months of doping stories, it turns out there’s a legal marijuana store literally across the street from the Oregon Convention Center, site of the 2016 track and field world indoor championship, which features a groovy, granola-crunchy green track. Can’t make this stuff up. Seriously, now: track and field arrives for the 2016 world indoors, a four-day run that got underway Thursday night, at an inflection point.

Since Sebastian Coe was elected president last August of track’s world governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, the headlines have mostly been grim. Claims of rampant corruption in the regime of former IAAF president Lamine Diack — allegations that Diack's administration was ripe with conflict of interest, graft, money for cover-ups. And, of course, doping, doping, doping. Russians, Russians, Russians. Oh, and how about the Kenyans, Ethiopians, Moroccans and more?

Wait — what’s this? UK Anti-Doping announces Wednesday a life ban against a track coach there, Dr. George Skafidis, in the wake of nine, count them, nine anti-doping violations, all relating to sprinter Bernice Wilson. In Britain? What?

The focus Thursday shifted to the sport itself, with the IAAF and local organizers, led by Vin Lananna, giving the first night of the championships over entirely to the pole vault. France's Renaud Lavillenie won the men’s event, setting a world indoor championships record, 6.02 meters, or 19 feet 9 inches. The world record, which Lavillenie set two years ago, is 6.16, 20-2 1/2. On Thursday, he made three attempts at a new world record, 6.17, 20-2 3/4. No go. American Sam Kendricks took second, clearing 5.80, 19-0 1/4. On the women's side, the U.S. went one-two, Jenn Suhr winning in a championship-record 4.90, 16-0 3/4, Sandi Morris taking second in 4.85, 15-11. As evidence of the upswing in women's pole vaulting, Thursday's competition marked the first time four women in the same competition cleared 4.80, 15-9.

"I think the Summer Olympics are going to be pretty crazy," Morris said afterward.

Jenn Suhr, the 2012 Olympic champion, winning 2016 world indoor gold // Getty Images for IAAF

London 2012 gold medalist and current world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie of France making his into to the 2016 indoor worlds // Getty Images for IAAF

The rest of the field jumping, Lavillenie waits to start -- part of the mental game in pole vault. He entered at 5.75 meters, or 18-10 1/4 // Getty Images for IAAF

Lavillenie after a scary end to his second attempt at 6.17: "I was just able to manage it and fall safely. It’s not so often I do something like that. It happens. Pole vault is very dangerous and very intense. That’s why we love it." // Getty Images for IAAF

Lavillenie, after, meeting the media. Track junkies: in the blue warmup jacket beyond Lavillenie, that's Dan O'Brien, the 1996 Olympic decathlon winner

As the vaulters did their thing, KC and the Sunshine Band could be heard belting out their mid-'70s anthem, “That’s the way (I like it),” just one of the musical numbers featured on a loop that played over the convention speakers. In another twist, the vaulters got individual introductions — each athlete running in turn into the arena down a ramp, his or her name in lights.

Medal ceremonies: back downtown at Pioneer Courthouse Square, with more music and that Portlandia hipster vibe.

Attendance Thursday at the convention center: a robust 6,924.

It's like track and field was, you know, making a genuine effort to be more interesting. And, even, innovating.

Pioneer Courthouse Square: set up to be the 2016 world indoors medals and party center

This is the reality of what is happening with Coe, in particular, and that is particularly worth noting at the start of these championships, the first world indoors in the United States since 1987.

“The USA has historically been the powerhouse of track and field,” Coe said earlier Thursday at a sun-splashed news conference in that square. “Yet given its great economic power, it is still a country where the general perception of track and field is low. The regeneration of that is taking place here in Oregon and I genuinely believe this will be a reawakening of track and field in this country. This is a new and exciting chapter in the history of our sport."

Sebastian Coe at Thursday's news conference, flanked by the husband-and-wife team of Canada's Brianne Theisen-Eaton and American Ashton Eaton, both multi-event stars // Getty Images for IAAF

Let's be real: that's going to take time.

Things were broken. Now they have to get fixed. Coe is the guy to fix them. New chapters, regeneration, reawakening — whatever label you like — don’t just happen overnight.

Which is why the many cries for Coe’s resignation are seriously misplaced.

As Coe said at that news conference in that square, “Our sport is still strong. Not to deny we haven’t gone through challenging, dark days.”

Later, asked specifically whether he believes there are clean Russian athletes, a ridiculous question in its own right, as if an entire country of 140 million people can’t produce one soul that competes without drugs, he said, “I’m sure there are. But the reality is we need to get the athletes,” wherever in the world they might be, “back into systems that people are trusting.”

That's half of what's what. Here is the other: doping is not just a track and field problem (hello, tennis star Maria Sharapova, swim champion Yulia Efimova and others now looking at meldonium issues). It is not just a Russia problem.

“We are responsible for our sport,” Coe said. “We are not the world’s policeman.”

A World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report — the first part delivered in November, the second in January — suggested that Diack ran a closely held conspiracy to cover up certain doping results, mostly in Russia.

Diack and his longtime lawyer, Herbert Cissé, are said to be facing criminal inquiry in France.

Last week, the IAAF’s policy-making council met in Monaco, the federation’s longtime base.

Process isn’t sexy. Process takes time. The press loves (even a hint of) negativity.

At the same time, Coe was duly elected after a hard-fought campaign, defeating the former pole vault legend Sergey Bubka. That means Coe earned — better, deserves — the opportunity to effect change.

The council was met with 51 measures. It approved 51.

It’s a measure of how into-the-21st century the IAAF has to go, alternatively an indicator of how Diack ran the federation for 16 years as more or less a personal fiefdom, that a good number of the 51 deal with basic, albeit essential, governance items.

For instance, things like getting double signatories on checks. Or job descriptions. Or standard HR controls.

Any institutional change is a combination of change wrought from without and within. Coe is — this is key to understand — a change agent.

So, too, Stephanie Hightower, the USA Track & Field president who was elected last August to the IAAF council.

As the USATF board said in December 2014, in a statement when it went with Hightower instead of the longtime U.S. representative to the IAAF, Bob Hersh:

“Change is difficult for any organization. It is especially difficult when it involves long-serving officials. In 2015, there will be significant, structural change at the IAAF – with their leadership, with their direction, vision and politics. This is a different era and a different time. We think Stephanie Hightower provides us with the best chance to move forward as part of that change.”

From 2011-15, Hersh had been the senior IAAF vice president, Coe one of three other vice presidents.

Once Coe was elected, he immediately turned in part to Hightower and to Frankie Fredericks, the former sprinter from Namibia who for years has been making a new career in sports administration.

Some have groused, and loudly, that as an IAAF vice president, Coe “must have known” what was going on with Diack.

Using that same logic, why aren’t the many critics of the USATF process by which Hightower was selected to run for the IAAF council asking the same about Hersh?

This, understand, is a rhetorical question — not what Hersh did or did not know. But those who have been often been the loudest in their criticism are not being consistent. You want to criticize Coe because he was vice president — but think it was somehow wrong for USATF not to re-appoint Hersh, who as the No. 2 man, the senior VP, should have been most closely involved with the organization and with Diack?

Indeed, the suggestion that Coe “must have known” itself betrays logic.

The IAAF council met maybe three or four times a year. That’s roughly 10 days of 365. Coe had been an IAAF vice president since 2007; from 2005-12, he was thoroughly occupied as boss of the London Olympics.

It’s a little bit like being vice president of a school board and getting asked why you didn’t know the high school basketball coach was stealing from the travel fund.

Was there talk at the council during Diack’s latter years about doping in Russia? Obviously: there were public records of sanctions. But if the word from the top was that Russians were being caught because of advances in blood passport work, precisely what more should any of the roughly two dozen on the council have done?

To reiterate a point made in this space before: the point of a conspiracy, which is what Diack alleged to have run, is to keep it hidden from those not part of it.

Coe’s “must have known” is one of four apparent points of objection that have been raised over these past several months, in tiresome fashion.

Coe at Thursday's opening ceremony, with Portland 2016 local organizing chief Vin Lannana and Portland mayor Charlie Hales // Getty Images for IAAF

Objection No. 2:

When he succeeded Diack last August, Coe called Diack the “spiritual leader” of the sport.

Given what we know now, Coe could have used a different phrase, for sure. Hindsight is always 20/20.

But three notes here:

One, when you succeed someone, you generally say nice things.

Two, Coe would never — repeat, never — have used those words if he’d had even an inkling of what is alleged to have gone down. Coe is not only a smart guy, he has had a career in the hard-knocks school of British politics.

Three, there has been zero suggestion from law enforcement linking Coe to any misconduct or wrongdoing, and you can believe he has been in contact with French agents.

Objection No. 3:

Again in Beijing upon election, Coe gave a legalistic response, rather than one more PR-savvy, when asked about his longtime ambassadorial role with Nike, saying in essence his relationship was well-known and -documented. Coe has since relinquished the position.

This was an optics problem, and nothing more.

Those who would savage Coe cried, conflict of interest! Coe was affiliated with Nike for nearly 40 years. That run included the years he oversaw the London 2012 effort. Where were the critics — particularly in the British parliament, where he regularly appeared for status reports for 2012 — during all that time?

Objection No. 4:

Upon the publication early last August of a story in The Sunday Times that claimed more than 800 athletes, and a third of all medalists in endurance events at recent Olympics and world championships had suspicious blood results not followed up by the IAAF, Coe called the allegations “a declaration of war” on the sport.

In turn, that more or less prompted many, particularly in the British press, to declare a war in print with Coe.

Here it is worth referring to Part II of the WADA-commissioned report:

The “database” on which the story revolved was “in reality, no such thing,” but a “compilation of various test results.” The three-member panel, headed by Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, the first WADA president, said it “would not have been legally possible to bring a successful sanctioning process against any athlete based on the values in the IAAF database.”

Also: “The [commission] was provided with no explanation for the differences in approach and cautions expressed … in previously written scholarly publications on the subject matter and the opinions expressed in the work commissioned by The Sunday Times. The differences are quite significant.”

Going forward, it’s worth emphasizing that in significant measure the announcement of new doping cases — specifically in Kenya and Ethiopia — marks the results of basic anti-doping standards finally being applied to, or adopted by, the rest of the world.

Which, in its way, is what Coe observed at that sunny news conference.

He said, “People want immediate action. People want immediate results. People want immediate change.

“It takes time.”

Sport at the crossroads: Seb Coe wins IAAF presidency

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BEIJING — With track and field at a historic crossroads, the IAAF membership on Wednesday elected Great Britain’s Seb Coe president.

Coe defeated Sergey Bubka of Ukraine, 115-92, two great champions of and advocates for the sport facing off in an election that reflected on track and field’s past but, more important, its future.

After the two men exchanged congratulations at the dais, an emotional Coe said, “I think for most of us in this room, we would conclude that the birth of our children are big moments in our lives, probably the biggest. But I have to say that being given the opportunity to work with all of you, to shape our sport, is probably the second-biggest momentous occasion in my life.”

Post-election news conference: IAAF spokesman Nick Davies; president Lamine Diack; president-elect Seb Coe; general secretary Essar Gabriel

Bubka, graceful, said, “I am a happy man and I am sitting in front of you because I love athletics,” what track and field is called everywhere in the world but the United States. “This is my life. Nothing has changed in my life. I will continue to serve athletics with dignity and deep passion, as I did before.”

A few minutes later, Bubka was elected vice president, along with representatives from Qatar (Dahlan Al Hamad, head of the Asian confederation), Cameroon (Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, chief of the African confederation), and Cuba (the legendary Alberto Juantorena, the 1976 Montreal 400 and 800 meters champ, now a key figure in his nation's sport hierarchy).

The 2019 world championships will be held in Doha, Qatar.

In another key development, USA Track & Field president Stephanie Hightower was easily elected to the IAAF’s ruling council. She secured the most votes, 163, for the six seats reserved for women on the board, more even than Olympic gold medalist Nawal el-Moutawakel, the IOC member and overseer of the 2016 Rio Games, who drew 160.

Stephanie Hightower // photo courtesy USATF

Hightower said she was "humbled and thrilled to have been selected to serve."

The 2021 world championships are due to be staged in Eugene, Oregon; the 2016 world indoors, next March in Portland.

“I congratulate Lord Coe on his election as IAAF president, and I am excited to continue to work with him on the important projects that our organization began with president Diack,” TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna said in a statement.

He added, “Together with our friends at the IAAF and USA Track & Field, I am confident that we will create a lasting legacy for the sport.”

Four more Americans won key posts Wednesday, too, signs of emerging USATF strength at the international level: Anne Phillips was elected chair of the federation’s women’s committee, Maryanne Daniel one of the two female members of the race-walking committee. Bill Roe was elected to the cross-country committee, David Katz re-elected to the IAAF technical committee.

In all, USATF went an unprecedented five-for-five -- an emphatic rebuttal to domestic naysayers who had been hugely critical of the nominees put forth last December in Los Angeles by the USATF board.

Hightower, Phillips and Daniel emerged as the top vote-getters in their categories.

“Putting these candidates forward was a strategic decision by our board to be a leader rather than a follower in the IAAF’s new era,” USATF board chair Steve Miller said.

"None of these outcomes was guaranteed. Our election success was the result of a lot of hard work by our candidates, our staff and by our closest colleagues in the IAAF congress. Today’s elections are simply the start of what will be many months and years of hard work at the IAAF level.”

Voting for the IAAF’s 27-member ruling council showed the emerging strength of the Middle East in world sports. In addition to Al Hamad, the IAAF elected representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Ahmad Al Kamali, and Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Nawaf Al Saud.

Spain’s Jose Maria Odriozola, meanwhile, took over as treasurer from Russia’s Valentin Balakhnichev.

The presidential vote total, 34 years to the day after he set a then-world record for the mile in Zurich, 3:48.53, reflected Coe’s strength around the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and North America. South America, with its 13 votes, was always a Bubka redoubt.

Svein Arne Hansen of Norway, president of the European athletics federation, issued a statement that said, “I would like to congratulate my friend Sebastian on bering elected as president of the IAAF. I am looking forward to working closely with him over the coming years for the good of our sport.”

Coe formally takes office on August 31, at the end of the 2015 world championships.

The winning margin, 23 votes, also may prove significant as things go forward: comfortable enough for Coe to claim a commanding mandate but not so large as to, in any way, embarrass Bubka.

Outgoing president Lamine Diack, who served for 16 years, said, “For me, it’s a dream come true that I can pass on the baton to a new generation, to Sebastian, who has been prepared for the job. And I think we can say that our sport is in safe hands …

“The white-haired generation,” Diack said, “has done what it could. Now over to the black-haired generation.”

Track and field has, of course, long been the centerpiece of the Summer Games.

As Coe noted at a post-election news conference, “Track and field is the No. 1 sport. I am absolutely delighted to be president of the No. 1 sport. I will do everything within my human capabilities to make sure our sport maintains the values, maintains the strong legacy and the very firm foundations president Diack has left me.”

At the same time, track is increasingly being challenged by, among others, swimming and gymnastics; moreover, survey after survey suggests young people may increasingly be interested in sitting on the couch and playing video games.

And track seems chronically to be beset by doping scandals — headline after headline in recent weeks, for instance.

During the campaign, Coe aggressively defended the IAAF’s anti-doping efforts.

“As you have seen,” he said to delegates from the more than 200 federations just before ballots were cast, “I will always be in your corner.

“Your fight is my fight.”

This proved consistent with his all-along strategy, which emphasized not only who he was — relationships in Olympic sport can be everything — but, even more so, a plain-spoken program of rich content.

In contrast, Bubka — who also ran a spirited campaign — was more apt to turn to the relationship aspect.

Sergey Bubka, presidential runner-up, IAAF vice president //  Getty Images

Two days before the election, for instance, Bubka sent out an email blast that linked to a photo album from stops along the campaign trail.

There is no question — zero — that Bubka, the 1988 gold medalist in the pole vault who for 10 years has been head of the national Olympic committee of Ukraine, is both personable and eminently likable.

In the end, however, the IAAF decided it wanted, and needed, more.

Time and again, Coe would go back not just to his record of achievement — Olympic gold medalist in the 1500 meters in Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984, chief of the enormously successful London 2012 Games — but to the manifesto he put forward several months ago.

Broadly, Coe’s vision sketched out for the IAAF a platform rooted in integrity and credibility; creativity and change; enhanced transparency; the imperative of bringing in more sponsors, and doing more with existing corporate partners; increased financial and administrative support to the members; deeper connection with governments; intensified engagement with track’s current and potential audience, notably young people; and a far more robust communication strategy, both within the federation and out.

“Everything you do in the sport is underpinned by trust,” Coe said at that post-election news conference.

He also said, “This has been a very, very long, hard, tough campaign,” asserting it had “given the sport a chance to pause for breath, to review itself, renew itself, think about what the next 30 or 40 years look like.”

That the time for change is now had become crystal clear.

Even Diack himself said so, in the congress: “Perhaps you shouldn’t have elected me in 2011. I had already decided to leave,” adding a moment later, “But we decided to continue working together, and to pursue the path that we followed.”

That path has been a slow walk, the last few years of Diack’s presidency seeing the sport launch the World Relays in the Bahamas but otherwise stagnate in significant ways; the presentation of a track meet, for instance, pales in comparison to that of a world-class swim meet.

At the same time, Diack leaves the IAAF with what Coe called “an extremely strong foundation.” In 2016, the federation’s revenue projects out to $81.9 million, including a $40 million payout due from the IOC. IAAF reserves at the end of 2014 totaled about $74 million, up $12 million from just four years ago.

That said, as a financial report made public Wednesday underscored, the IAAF is hugely dependent on television rights fees — $27 million of its roughly $59 million in income for 2014 — and needs to figure out how to grow that pie.

Indeed, that’s the apt metaphor for track and field itself: it’s strong but there is so much sleeping potential there.

That, in a nutshell, is the theme Coe tapped into.

As he said at the news conference, “Our product is athletics but our business is entertainment.”

Coe at the IAAF congress // Getty Images

During the campaign, Coe also had some influential help.

It was known in closely held circles that the IOC president, Thomas Bach, would not have minded — not one bit — a Coe presidency, even though Bubka has for several years been a member of the IOC’s policy-making executive board.

Same for another key personality in the Olympic and international sports scene, Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah.

John Coates of Australia, an IOC vice president, issued a statement calling the vote a “great day for athletics and international sport,” adding, “Seb was clearly best qualified for the presidency as not only an Olympic champion, businessman and politician but as a person of the very highest integrity and character who has organized a most successful Olympic Games.”

The British government assuredly played a role in supporting Coe’s campaign. Hugh Robertson, the 2012 Olympics minister, served as a lead advisor.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, took to Twitter:

Diack, at least publicly, remained studiously neutral during the race. But it was an open secret that he had been piqued two years ago when Bubka ran for the IOC presidency that Bach won; Bubka’s candidacy prevented Diack from publicly supporting Bach. Did any of that linger?

Coe logged over 700,000 kilometers in the air since Christmas, criss-crossing the world several times over to meet with track and field officials virtually everywhere.

On the flight to Beijing for this history-making 50th IAAF congress, three members of his team were asleep “before the wheels left the tarmac,” Coe said. A flight attendant said to Coe, wow, they sure seem relaxed. He said, “No, no, no — they’re absolutely knackered.”

He also said Wednesday about the marathon effort: “I would also like very briefly to thank my teams — because when I was asleep, they were still working hard into the night,” including the veteran strategist Mike Lee, who can now claim another victory.

Coe went on to note that credit was truly due his wife, saying she had "borne the brunt of most of this over the last year." He quipped, "I will be meeting her outside the main congress hall with a photograph of me, just to remind her what I look like.”

Coe gambled big-time Wednesday, standing only for president. Bubka put his name in for both the top spot and for vice-president.

Everyone thus understood at the core that if Coe lost, he was out of town on Thursday, and very likely out of the sport for good. Did track and field want to run the risk of losing his experience, expertise and more?

“Congress, friends,” Coe said in remarks before the balloting that would name just the sixth president in IAAF history, dating to 1912, “there is no task in my life for which I have ever been better prepared, no job I have ever wanted to do more and to do with greater commitment.

“With confidence and affection, my friends, I place myself in your hands today. If you place your trust in me, I will not let you down.”

The consequences of the FIFA indictments

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EUGENE, Oregon — You know who looks like geniuses right about now? Vin Lananna here at so-called TrackTown USA and Max Siegel, chief executive of USA Track & Field. They were two of the keys to bringing track and field’s world championships to Eugene in 2021. That might be the last hurrah.

In the aftermath of the FIFA indictments, it likely may be a generation or more before the United States sees a World Cup played here, women’s or men’s. And the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 2024 bid, now centered on Boston? The International Olympic Committee won’t vote on 2024 until 2017 but this Boston bid can now be presumed to be DOA.

U.S. and European mainstream news reports may be hailing the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to go after some of the sport’s heavyweights — the indictments, unsealed Wednesday, charge nine soccer officials and five marketing executives.

Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, was not charged. In a statement Thursday before the vote Friday in Zurich at which he is widely expected to be re-elected to a fifth, four-year term, he said, “We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. But it must also fall to me to be responsible for the reputation of our entire organization, and to find a way to fix things.

“We cannot allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here and now.”

Sepp Blatter at Thursday's opening of the FIFA Congress // Getty Images

FIFA has ruled out a revote of the World Cup bids won by Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022.

Big picture:

This is a highly charged game of international politics and intrigue where what the U.S. Justice Department does or doesn’t do, or says or doesn’t say, is hardly the final word.

Indeed, it’s unclear how these indictments, or the prospect of further investigation or indictment, furthers any American criminal or international agenda.

The DOJ as world's self-appointed sheriff

Just to set out the fundamental premise and ask the elemental question:

The United States is hardly a major soccer nation. Who in the United States was harmed by alleged wrongdoing or misconduct involving FIFA?

Assuming extradition, and you can bet that some of these defendants can, and will, have access to some superior legal minds:

If the government of some country — say, for hypothetical purposes, South Africa — pays someone a “bribe,” is that actually a crime? If so, why?

What about the notion of sovereign immunity?

What about this: is it illegal to take money from a government?

Can’t the argument be made that this all rather smacks of politics and the generation of headlines — in particular for a brand-new attorney general, Loretta Lynch?

Come on: this went down at the FIFA Congress? That wasn’t on purpose?

Did anyone along the way — repeat, anyone — stop to consider or coordinate the multiple levels of U.S. policy internationally?

To be clear: not to say that FIFA might not be exceedingly worthy of investigation or inquiry.

To underscore: the amount of newsprint and digital pixelation that has been given over to allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct at FIFA over the years is monumental.

But who decided that the United States of America ought to be the self-appointed problem solver, to ride in like the sheriff in an old western, and right whatever wrongs might be wrong in this particular soccer movie? Like, why?

How’s that going for the United States in other areas of public policy — for instance, Iraq and Afghanistan?

We don’t have enough issues back home, the federal budget isn’t strained enough, and this is the priority? Baltimore is melting down, Ferguson, too, and the Justice Department is chasing soccer balls in Zurich?

If all this was the first step in a grand plot to take down Blatter, how long is that going to take? Long enough to play out through 2017, and the IOC process for voting for the 2024 Summer Games? Looking at that through an American prism -- if that's the case, is that a likely good thing for a U.S. Olympic bid?

How about this? You can bet — take it to the window in Vegas — that senior officials overseas with even the most fundamental understanding of the American system will make this connection, right or wrong, fair or not:

One, President Obama is known to have been exceedingly frustrated, or worse, after he made an in-person appeal in Copenhagen in 2009 at the IOC session on behalf of his own city, Chicago, and the members booted Chicago out in the first round of voting.

Two, President Obama is the head of the executive branch of the American system.

Three, the Justice Department is part of the executive branch.

Draw whatever conclusions you wish.

Again, it does not matter whether it is right or not, fair or unfair.

What matters in international sport

What matters in the nuanced world of high-level international sport and politics is perception and relationships.

Newspaper headlines can scream and blare and proclaim all they want.

Whatever.

So when, for instance, Sunil Gulati of the U.S. Soccer Federation says Thursday that he intends to instruct the American delegate to vote Friday for Blatter’s challenger, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, where — afterward, and for a long time — can that expect to leave U.S. Soccer?

Start naming your wildernesses here, because FIFA under Blatter has operated with what Ali has called a culture of “retribution.”

As the New York Times put it, blandly: “Anti-American sentiment is not unusual in international sports, and the involvement of the Department of Justice in Wednesday’s arrests will not help the United States’s image.”

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was — as usual — more forceful.

He called Wednesday’s arrests of top FIFA officials in Zurich “another blatant attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other states.”

And: “I have no doubt that this is obviously an attempt to prevent Mr. Blatter’s re-election to the post of FIFA president, which is a grave violation of the principles that international organizations function on.”

And: “Unfortunately, our American partners use these methods to achieve their selfish goals and persecute people illegally. I don’t rule out that this may be the same case with FIFA.”

So — if you are the USOC and you are weighing whether to keep up this charade of a Boston bid, with its dubiously low polling numbers and a plan that is not a plan, with leaders who were not even the leaders when the USOC picked it last January, now you’ve got Putin even more upset at the United States and Blatter, too.

Ah, you say — Blatter is 79 and by IOC rules he has to go off at 80.

But wait — under the new Agenda 2020 protocols, the IOC can grant waivers to five members to stay on past 80. So far, the IOC has awarded only one of the five, to the president of the skiing federation, Gian-Franco Kasper. That leaves four. Doesn’t it seem highly likely the president of almighty FIFA would get one of the remaining four?

As for Putin — it is always worth remembering, as this space points out time and again, that the very first call IOC president Thomas Bach received upon his election in Buenos Aires in 2013 was from Putin.

Russia has — for at least a few more months — four IOC members. Vitaly Smirnov is the dean of the members; he turned 80 in February. The chair of the 2022 evaluation commission is Russia’s Alexander Zhukov. Obviously, the 2014 Winter Games were in Russia, in Sochi.

Given the country’s prominence in the Olympic movement, it would hardly be surprising if, by 2017, there were again four Russian members.

Even at three, Russia holds considerable Olympic influence.

Keep in mind that London beat Paris by four votes, 54-50, for the 2012 Summer Games — which means, really, by a swing of two votes.

Blatter’s influence in the one-nation, one-vote FIFA system is in Asia, Africa and South America.

As for the Europeans, who will be supporting Ali on Friday, come 2024, there figure to be at least three — Hamburg, Rome and Paris — and maybe four — Budapest — European cities in the Summer Games race.

It’s in the IOC’s interest to have an American candidate, so be sure that the only thing you’ll hear from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC is based, is how interesting and promising the American bid is, or could be.

Bottom line: it's math

But let’s be real. This is a math problem. How does the USOC put together a winning coalition behind Boston? The Europeans have their interests. Putin and Blatter have long memories.

One other piece to the dynamic. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait, one of the most influential figures in the Olympic movement, the head of the 205-member Assn. of National Olympic Committees, was just last month elected to the FIFA executive council.

Long term: does the sheikh himself want to be the next FIFA president? The next IOC president? He’s only 51. Are his allegiances going to play more with Blatter? Bach? A question often asked: what does the sheikh want?

In late October, ANOC is due to have a meeting in Washington, D.C.

In the aftermath of the FIFA indictments, one now wonders just how many of the delegates are inclined to show up in Washington — or, perhaps, as October nears, to find a convenient excuse to kind-of sort-of you-know not show up, because showing up would give the FBI jurisdiction over their persons.

Hey, everyone, let’s take a field trip to the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia! Rendition — no, we don’t call it that!

Not that anyone would be thinking anything like that — not after Chuck Blazer, once the top soccer official in the United States, identified as “co-conspirator #1” in paragraph 44 of the indictment, is said at the 2012 London Games to have secretly recorded former FIFA colleagues with a microphone hidden in the fob of his keychain.

At the London Games!

So let’s get this straight — the U.S. Department of Justice sought to use the former top U.S. Soccer official as a mole, as a rat, to gather evidence while at the IOC’s franchise, the Summer Games. Once that gets processed at the appropriate levels, that ought to go down just great for everyone in the United States in the Olympic scene for years and years to come.

Who, now, is going to have a cup of coffee in the bar with an American and wonder if the feds aren’t listening?

Blatter reportedly has not visited the U.S. in four years.

Justice and truth, such as they are, are very fine things.

Winning Olympic bids is quite another.

No one is saying the USOC could have done anything to have stopped the Justice Department from doing its thing.

But now the USOC has to live with the consequences.

Spending $75 million, or more, in chase of something that is not attainable is not a good idea. That money is not the USOC’s money, nor is it the IOC’s money, but it’s still a lot of money, and at the end this all comes down to relationships, perception — and math.

The USOC meets in late June in the Bay Area to consider what it ought to do next.

It should be obvious.

Eugene gets the 2021 track championships

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For more than 30 years, the United States has consistently produced the world’s best track and field teams. But the track and field world championships have never been held in the United States. Then, Thursday morning, in an unexpected bolt from the blue, came word that the 2021 world championships would be held in Eugene, Oregon — a “strategic decision that enables us to take advantage of a unique opportunity that may never arise again,” the outgoing president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, said in a statement issued from meetings in Beijing.

Eugene had last November bid for the 2019 world championships and lost narrowly to Doha, Qatar, 15-12.

Vin Lananna and Bob Fasulo in Beijing // Twitter photo

Typically, the IAAF awards the worlds after such contested elections. For 2021, however, it opted to go straight to Eugene — its 27-member ruling council, guided by Diack, who throughout his 16 years as president has always wanted a U.S. championships, taking the decision Thursday in a special vote.

If anything can ignite a resurgence of track and field’s place in the sporting landscape in the United States, this marks the opportunity.

The sport — under the direction of USATF chief executive Max Siegel, now financially secure in the United States— has six full years and two Olympic Games, in 2016 and 2020, to capture public attention, not to mention the 2016 world indoor championships in Portland, Oregon.

The long-running and very vocal argument over whether a different (read: bigger) city would work as America’s track and field capital is now settled.

It’s going to be Eugene — as the backdrop for a world-class, live (or mostly) TV broadcast.

For sure, the locals know track and field.

The annual Prefontaine Classic at historic Hayward Field is a regular stop on the IAAF’s world circuit.

The NCAA championships are held regularly at Hayward.

Eugene played host last year to the world junior championships.

The U.S. Olympic Trials in track and field were held at Hayward in 2008, 2012 and will be held there again in 2016. The 2016 Trials will be the sixth in University of Oregon history.

Hayward needs a facelift. But that’s now part of the 2021 plan.

That Eugene could grab the 2021 worlds is testament, in large measure, to the vision and tenacity of five people: Vin Lananna, who championed the 2019 bid and would not give up; Bob Fasulo, his consultant and former U.S. Olympic Committee international relations director; Siegel; Diack; and Seb Coe, the IAAF vice president.

Coe headed the 2019 evaluation process and throughout played it studiously neutral. Even so, from the beginning he understood -- anyone would -- the power of having a championships in the United States.

In a phone call from Beijing, he said of Thursday's vote, "This was a strategic opportunity that the council could not overlook.

"We have to be entirely open about this: we have found it difficult to engage the United States at this level of track and field.

"The federation," meaning USATF, "under Stephanie and Max, have really reached out," a reference not only to Siegel but to Stephanie Hightower, who until this week had been the USATF board chairwoman. She resigned, remaining USATF president, and in August will stand as USATF’s nominee for election to the IAAF council.

Coe continued, "We have a world indoors in Portland. We had a very well-organized world junior championships in Eugene. As I said to Stephanie, interestingly, when they were presenting their credentials for world juniors, I said, 'I hope this was a precursor for worlds,' and they said, 'Yes,' and they were back in front of us.

"The council made the right decision. This was not an opportunity that was not going to come around that quickly. Remember, this was only by three votes last time."

Diack is an often-misunderstood figure in the track and field — and Olympic — scene. But Thursday’s decision should serve once more of a reminder of the authority he wields.

Diack has only a few more months to go in his term; either Coe or Sergey Bubka, also an IAAF vice president, will replace him at elections in August. Diack is 81 years old. Even so, Diack managed Thursday to do what Primo Nebiolo, who was his predecessor as IAAF president and who was as fearsome as they come, could not — get a championships to the United States.

And he did so without a bidding process. And without a peep of protest.

There is, to be clear, precedent for no-bidding — the 2007 worlds went to Osaka, Japan, in a similar manner.

“Although this decision departs from the usual procedure," Diack said, "I am delighted that my council colleagues understood the enormous opportunity presented to us to access a key market and have taken a decision in the interest of the global development of our sport.”

For the Americans, after the bitter disappointment of losing to Doha — and for sure it was bitter, with the U.S. contingent in Monaco last November calculating on hotel napkins, trying time and again to figure out how they could have lost by such a close margin — Lananna and Siegel vowed not to give up.

Siegel said Thursday by telephone from Indianapolis, “As a federation, frankly, since I took over,” in 2012, “we have been very deliberate in approaching the sport globally in the same way Scott and Larry have gone about it,” referring to Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst, the chief executive and board chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, who for years have made a priority of building goodwill and relationships.

“We want to make a statement,” Siegel continued,” that we want to be one of the highest-contributing federations.”

Lananna went back to Monaco the first week of February. There he pitched Diack with what he called a “strategic business plan” — essentially, he said, the same terms and commitments for 2019 but now for 2021.

The state of Oregon, he made sure to note, has all along offered “enthusiastic” support.

Speaking Thursday by phone from Beijing, Lananna said the council voted for the plan by a “landslide” vote.

“We stayed after it,” he said. “I will say that in the end, what I will say about the IAAF, they thought strategically about this and made a bold move. The president did a wonderful job about getting behind this.”

In Monaco last November, Lananna had told the IAAF, “Destiny is calling us. America is waiting. Eugene is ready. Let’s tell our story together.”

Now that destiny is to be fulfilled. Just two years later.

“I mean,” he said on the telephone, “it’s going to reignite America’s passion for track and field. I think you put this in Eugene, Oregon, a town that has the heart and soul of track and field in the United States — the repercussions of this decision will signal a new era for the sport.

“For the IAAF, it’s a new market for the sport of track and field. It ignited the flame that gets our sport rolling in the right direction.”

But not, he cautioned without significant work.

“It’s not good enough to tell each other we have the world’s No. 1 team. We have to work to do — to have them be compelling human interest stories.”

 

When a two-vote loss is reason for optimism

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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.

For years, U.S. bids have been the undisputed losers in international campaigns. In 2005, New York went down hard for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games campaign, won by London. In 2009, Chicago went out in the first round for the 2016 Summer Games, won by Rio de Janeiro.

Since 2010, the USOC, headed by chairman Larry Probst and chief executive Scott Blackmun, has assiduously worked at relationship building.

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

To be clear, there have since been some wins — for instance, the world weightlifting championships next year will be in Houston.

Even so, the question on the table here Tuesday, clear, plain, unequivocal, front and center was whether the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, would become the first of the major sports federation to embrace anew the United States.

The answer: no.

But, unlike the Chicago or New York votes, the IAAF outcome is no cause for downer cows to start moaning across the United States sports scene.

Or for critics outside the U.S. to regard the Americans, yet again, as losers or arrogant imperialists who got deserved comeuppance.

Instead, it is reason — genuinely — for optimism for those seeking to see the U.S., which has long supported the Olympic movement financially, assume a more leading role politically and institutionally as well.

First: inevitably, Doha’s victory for 2019 will fuel speculation about a Qatar bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Reality check: the laundry list of so-called “20+20” Agenda 20 reforms championed by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and made public Tuesday includes a commitment to non-discrimination on sexual orientation. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

The USOC is strongly considering a 2024 Summer Games bid. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Boston are under consideration.

In the meantime, that Eugene, a city of 157,000 in the faraway Pacific Northwest, could come within two votes, and on its first campaign … should not be underestimated.

Given that result, 2024 for the United States has to be looking even more tantalizing.

How could Eugene-minus-two have happened?

When just the week before the smart money was that Eugene was looking at maybe as few as five votes in the first round and Barcelona, which also was in the mix for 2019, might have a better chance with track’s Europe-centric voters, anyway?

In the first round of voting Tuesday, Doha got 12 votes, Eugene nine, Barcelona six.

Again, how?

The Eugene bid had a powerful message: now was the time and we are together.

This could only have resonated so powerfully for one reason: it was true.

The USOC and USATF, along with local organizers in Eugene, led by the passionate Vin Lananna, worked together in support of the Oregon bid. It was clear the University of Oregon foundation was in for the big dollars. The state government, too, was fully on board.

Both the 2005 and 2009 U.S. Olympic bids were marked by considerable friction at any number of levels — local, state, national, public, private.

How did Doha overcome this concerted effort by the Americans?

It is abundantly obvious that Doha has both resource and ambition. It is the case in journalism school that they teach you to follow the money, and that aspect of the Doha bid is not to be underestimated.

Even so, there has been no hint of corruption in its bid. It should be noted that Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Summer Games organizing chairman, oversaw the formal IAAF evaluation of all three bids. Does it seem likely that Coe would permit this 2019 process to be pervaded by corruption?

Now, did Doha promise five-star hotels? Yes. Are there at issue sponsorship millions? Absolutely. Is all that legitimate? Certainly.

Three years ago, Doha lost — to London — for the 2017 IAAF worlds, by a 16-10 vote. It refined its bid and came back for a second try, promising, among other things, a 100-meter video board at the stadium, night marathons and a late September-early October schedule.

In some circles, there is concern that the late-season 2019 schedule will run afoul of European soccer as well as NFL viewing, and interfere with athlete training for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Then again, the new IAAF president — whoever it will be after the election next August to succeed longtime president Lamine Diack — can now likely go to European TV interests and say, OK, now I can offer you London 2017 and Doha 2019, and both will work well in European time zones, so, you know, let’s say we talk.

Also, track and field is one of the few sports, if not the only, in which the world championships are followed by more events. Are there more NFL football games, for instance, after the Super Bowl? So having the 2019 worlds at the end of the season will, finally, logically mark the end of the season.

In international sports politics, it can typically prove key to come back with an enhanced second bid. In essence, Doha started with a 10-vote head start.

Because it was a secret ballot, the machinations of the second round may forever be unknown, despite the best efforts of all involved to figure out whose votes in the first round went where in the second, particularly the six first-round Barcelona votes.

It is what it is.

This, too — USATF emerged here as a real force on the scene, with chief executive Max Siegel and board chairwoman Stephanie Hightower, who played key roles in the campaign, significantly enhancing their profiles.

Both got credit from insiders where credit is due: Siegel for being the sharp executive he was hired two-plus years ago to be, Hightower for giving him room to run the business that USATF has to be.

Of course, track and field is a sport. But USATF is also a real business.

Since 2011, USATF has achieved a 79 percent increase in revenue — from $19 million to $34 million.

Since 2011, it has grown its net assets, cash and investments, by 472 percent — from $3.6 million to a projected $17 million by the end of 2014.

In a couple weeks, at USATF’s annual meeting in Anaheim, California, the federation is due to announce two more new sponsors.

Where is all that money going? Just one indicator among many: USATF spent more than $11 million in sport-performance dollars in 2014.

“We have been undertaking a fundamental change of our corporate culture and business model from the national office perspective,” Siegel said.

“At times people have felt that as CEO I should be more in a media spotlight, but my view of a CEO, as an organization’s top business executive, is to execute our business in the most effective way possible.

“It is my job to bring in the revenues that fund the programs that grow our sport, from grass roots to professional athletes to masters athletes. Without the funds, and without the business, the programs and the sport don’t grow.

“We are now at a point that our efforts and results are speaking for themselves. Now that we have a track record of success, we are in a position to talk about what we can do, together as an organization, including our constituent groups, committees, officials, coaches and volunteers. As much as we have done, we have far more to accomplish and much more growth ahead of us.”

For her part, Hightower said, “… Because we have allowed [Siegel] to do business in the way that is most effective, our financial growth has been phenomenal. As we have grown, we have had several moments where it is clear that our governance has not fully ‘caught up’ with the change and growth of the Olympic movement in general,” an acknowledgment that governance change is assuredly the next step awaiting USATF.

To that end, she continued, “The USOC has set an example for effective governance that manages the more traditional, ‘amateur’ aspects of Olympic sport while enabling the business side of the sport to thrive. We have substantial progress yet to make to make ourselves more efficient and to better ensure that our constituents, staff and board all are contributing in the most effective ways possible.”