Track & Field

Track & Field (474)

USATF has named a team to look into the disqualifications from the 2014 USA Indoor Championships. The first though I had was probably the same one you had: what took so long? It has been almost two months since the championships, why didn't it take two weeks or even two days for someone at USATF to try and rectify a situation that was so apparently erroneous. I don't know what has been going on amongst the USATF brass, but they have not handled this situation well so far, let alone in a timely manner. The second thought that entered my mind is that the group USATF has appointed should release a summation of their findings and rulings with detailed descriptions concerning their interpretation of their application of the rules to both the Grunewald and Bumbalough disqualifications. USATF should do what the NHL did a few years ago. Back when Colin Campbell was the NHL discipline czar (that was his actual title), fans, players, coaches and media all grew increasingly disenchanted with what they saw as a much maligned and mysterious system of deciding rulings on player discipline. Puck Daddy, a blog on Yahoo Sports' had a running joke where they would try and predict the length of suspensions that would be given for any particular instance of elbowing, hits from behind, targeting the head, etc that they called 'Wheel of Discipline'. When respected former NHL star Brendan Shanahan became head of the rebranded Department of Player Safey he immediatley remedied a broken system. He and his staff issued a series of videos ( explaining and explictly showing what is a legal hockey hit and what is an illegal hit. When the first 'Shanaban' was issued, and has been done every time since, Shanahan issued a video and explicitly stated his reasoning and interpretation of the rules that yielded his verdict and the sentence. That's not to say the discipline process is perfect in the NHL now, nor does it please everyone, because those are simply impossible goals. The USATF group looking into the disqualifications needs to do the same thing as Shanahan in this situation. I doubt I was alone in thinking disqualifying runners for impeding others was an exercise not open to much interpretation, especially when video review is available, as was the case at USATF Indoors. Bob Hersh, the most senior member of the group needs to be decisive in his findings that lead to him upholding or overturning the Grunewald and Bumbalough disqualifications and issue a 'Shanaban' style video for each one to show the athletes, coaches, fans and media what is and is not allowed during a competition. The NHL was able to move beyond it's infamous 'Wheel of Discipline' days and now has a much better system. Track & Field is a much less dangerous sport than hockey, but it does sometimes involve contact and disqualfications can be necessary. Shanahan takes at most a few days to issue a complete explanation. Even though the timeliness aspect is gone, I still hope the USATF takes a page out of the NHL's book and clearly shows us athletes and fans why it chooses to disqualify a runner or not disqualify a runner.

World Record holder Wilson Kipsang emerged victorious from perhaps the greatest men's marathon field ever assembled. Mo Farah struggled during his highly anticipated marathon debut and finished eighth in 2:08:21. Ryan Vail was the only American in the elite field and ran well to finish 10th in 2:10:57 PB. Two time World Champ Edna Kiplagat took the win on the women's side in 2:20:23, ahead of track star Tirunesh Dibaba in her marathon debut, who was second in 2:20:35. Dibaba's time was the third best debut ever. Check for extensive coverage of one of the best races in the world.

The excitement surrounding Sunday's London Marathon builds as we get closer to race day. There are some great news stories surrounding the race that Alfonz has compiled for us in today's edition of EME News. Be sure to enjoy the race this weekend, it should be one of the best athletics events of 2014.

There were some interesting intersections between Track & Field and politics in the news today, one happy and one strange. First, despite all of the geopolitical conflict and internal strife occurring in Ukraine, the Kharkiv International Marathon will have its inaugural running this Saturday with over 10,000 participants from 16 countries. Hopefully the Kharkiv race goes well because Ukraine has already had to take some of its sporting events and training camps abroad. A strange politics/track story is Ben Johnson being part of Toronto mayor Rob Ford's re-election team. Ben Johnson failed drug tests three times during his career, most notably after breaking the World 100m Record and winning Olympic Gold at Seoul 1988, as well as being a soccer coach of Muammar Gaddafi's son, Al-Saadi, who was fired from an Italian team after failing a drug test on his first day. Mayor Ford has had his own troubles with drugs, having been largely stripped of power by the Toronto city council after he at first denied, but then admitted to public drunkenness and using crack cocaine while in office. Ford and Johnson seem to be interesting choices for each other and I personally doubt they will boost either of their public images.

I love watching the 110 Hurdles at the Diamond League meets because the best hurdlers in the world compete against each other frequently. Unlike the top 100 meter sprinters who seem to only want to compete against each other in championship meets (can we see Bolt vs Blake more often?), Aries Merritt, Jason Richardson and Ryan Wilson face off several times a year. That will continue at the Pre Classic this year, with all three of the top American high hurdlers facing off against European stars Sergey Shubenkov and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. The most decorated athlete in the field will be Decathlon World Record holder, and Eugene resident Ashton Eaton. I remember watching David Oliver run 12.90 at Pre a few years ago, and it was one of the best athletic performances I've ever seen. The 110 hurdles is one of my personal favorite events to watch, so I'm looking forward to this one.

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