Salazar four-year ban upheld by CAS

By Sports Desk September 16, 2021

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld the four-year ban imposed on athletics coach Alberto Salazar for anti-doping violations.

Salazar, who coached four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah among many athletes, and Dr Jeffrey Brown were banned in 2019 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

American Salazar, former head of the now-closed Nike Oregon Project, launched an appeal against the decision.

It was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday that the bans handed out to Salazar and Brown, who has worked as a physician and endocrinologist, would stand.

A CAS statement said the pair had "committed a number of anti-doping rule violations".

CAS ruled that Salazar was guilty of being in possession of testosterone, complicity in Brown's administration of a prohibited method and tampering with the doping control process.

Following news of Salazar's ban two years ago, Nike shut the Oregon Project, its elite training group for distance athletes.

British long-distance runner Farah has never failed a drugs test or been accused of doping and parted ways with Salazar in 2017.

CAS said that aspects of USADA's handling of the cases against Salazar and Brown "seemed to be out of proportion and excessive when compared to the severity and consequences of the ADRVs [anti-doping rule violations] that have been established".

In a media release, CAS added that it "emphasised that none of the ADRVs directly affected athletic competition, and that there was no evidence put before the CAS as to any effect on athletes competing at the elite level within the NOP [Nike Oregon Project]".

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    World record holder Agnes Tirop has been found dead at the age of 25 in her home in Kenya.

    Athletics Kenya released a statement on Wednesday to confirm the saddening news that Tirop's body had been found at her home in the western town of Iten, a training hub for many athletes.

    The Kenyan national athletics organisation added that they are working to learn more details about Tirop's death.

    "Kenya has lost a jewel," Athletics Kenya continued in their statement. "She was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track."

    One of the best women in the world at long-distance running, Tirop followed up her fourth-place finish in the 5,000 metre Tokyo Olympics final by setting the world record in a women's only 10-kilometre road race in Germany in September.

    Alongside her record-breaking outing at Herzogenaurach, in which she finished in 30:01, Tirop collected two bronze medals at the World Athletics Championships in 2017 and 2019.

    She also won the World Cross Country title in 2015, becoming the second-youngest women's winner in the history of the event, after also triumphing in the Africa Cross Country Championship the previous year.

    Tirop endured a lean year in 2021 but placed third in Kenya's Olympic trials before missing out on the podium in Tokyo by one place.

    In her most recent race, Tirop finished second in Geneva on October 3, in which she clocked 30:20.

    World Athletics paid their tributes in a statement, adding they are "deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death."

  • Bolt dominance was bad for athletics, says Edwin Moses Bolt dominance was bad for athletics, says Edwin Moses

    Usain Bolt's dominance of the sprint scene was bad for athletics as certain track and field events did not get the coverage they deserved, according to former hurdles star Edwin Moses.

    Jamaican sprinter Bolt won 19 major titles – eight gold medals at the Olympics and 11 at the World Championships – before bringing an end to his career in 2017.

    The 34-year-old won the men's 100 metres and 200m at three successive Olympics, setting a record time in both events.

    But while Bolt changed the sporting landscape over a medal-laden decade, Moses told Stats Perform it was good to see other disciplines take centre stage at Tokyo 2020.

    "I think the sports somewhat suffered when Usain was always winning," he said. "A lot of the meets wouldn't even get television coverage unless he was coming into the race. 

    "That started happening back in the 80s where TV kind of got addicted. They wouldn't cover the sport unless they had someone going for a world record. 

    "Track and field is like a three ring circus – it takes a family in order to have a good track meet. I was really impressed with the shot put this year and the women's triple jump.

    "You have to have all these things going on. It's not just about who's going to be the fastest man or the woman fastest woman. 

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    "There was a lot of focus on the 100 metres with Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis back then, but finally the 400 metres hurdles is at the peak of its history."

    Moses added: "I just think you have to have about 15 good stars, well-known stars that hopefully become household names. 

    "When I was running we had Jackie Joyner, Willie Bags. We had just a tonne of athletes from all over the world that were doing really, really great they won all the time.

    "The field events are just as important as the running events that men's shot put was outstanding. The women's discus was outstanding, as was the women's triple jump.

    "We need to have all these athletes getting massive backing from the federation in order to have a really good sport because it's a worldwide sport. 

    "No one wants to just watch the 100 metres and the 200 metres and then tune out on everything else and switch the channel – you have to be able to keep people's attention."

    Italy's Marcell Jacobs became the first 100m Olympic champion of the post-Bolt era with a time of 9.80 seconds in Tokyo, falling short of the Jamaican's record of 9.58s.

    All six finishers in the 100m final went under 10s and Moses, who set the world record four times in 400m hurdles, believes Bolt's record can one day be broken.

    "It's possible. It's possible. The men's 100 metres this year didn't come anywhere close to what we expected," he said. "I think people were expecting like a 9.65 or something. 

    "The time wasn't actually that great but then you have the heat and humidity and all the rounds that they have to run it's a crapshoot you never really know."

    One of the more remarkable moments of the 2020 Games was Karsten Warholm's victory in the men's 400m hurdles, the Norwegian knocking a huge 0.76s off his world record.

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    That has prompted concerns over the design of the Tokyo track, which is said to given athletes a one to two per cent performance advantage compared to previous years.

    "I've seen at least three articles on that," Moses said. "I think that at some point they're going to have to deal with the shift in paradigm because of technology issues. 

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  • Tokyo 2020 didn't lead us fully out of the tunnel but a legacy of hope permeated light through the darkness Tokyo 2020 didn't lead us fully out of the tunnel but a legacy of hope permeated light through the darkness

    Tokyo 2020 has been and gone. Was it worth the wait?

    Woah boy, where do you even start to answer such a question?

    Let's begin with where we were a little over two weeks ago when the Games were finally declared open. A year later than planned, of course, due to a global health pandemic that continues to wreak havoc across the continents.

    To say there was scepticism would be an understatement. In parts there was downright anger, in others just bafflement that the Olympics would go ahead in such circumstances.

    For some there was excitement, too. An unrepentant Thomas Bach delivered a message of solidarity and unity at an opening ceremony many thought might come.

    "We are standing in solidarity to make the Olympic Games happen, and to enable all of you dear athletes, and from all sports to take part in the Olympic games," the IOC chief said in front of millions watching around the world. 

    "This solidarity fuels our ambitions to make the world a better place through sport. Only through solidarity can we be here tonight. Without solidarity there is no peace.

    "This feeling of togetherness this is the light at the end of the dark tunnel, the pandemic forced us apart, to keep our distance from each other, to stay away even from our loved ones. This separation made this tunnel so dark."

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    These Games have not completely succeeded in leading us out of the dark tunnel. They never could, there is still too much pain and hardship being caused by COVID-19 for it to have truly healed the globe.

    Nor will we ever really escape the fact that Tokyo 2020 was an Olympics that could have been. A beautiful, vibrant, colourful, futuristic city – it is immensely sad we will never know how good the Olympics could have been. It is sadder still that so many great moments were played out in the absence of spectators.

    But you know what, despite it all, the greatest show on earth delivered. At least at times it did. That this was the pandemic Games needn't be the only legacy left behind in the Japanese capital.

    The majority of the success stories naturally belong to the athletes. Whether it be the unheralded Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer securing gold in a women's cycling road race where her rivals had no idea she had even won. Or maybe Annemiek van Vleuten, the runner-up in that event, finally taking Olympic gold in the time trial five years after a horrific crash scuppered her hopes when leading the road race at Rio 2016.

    Perhaps you took inspiration from the exploits of Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus, Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel and Adam Peaty in the pool, maybe it was the utter joy and emotion of Tom Daley finally diving his way to Olympic gold. It could have been at the track, where Elaine Thompson-Herah etched her name into history perhaps as the greatest female sprinter ever, or Karsten Warholm and Sydney McLaughlin breaking astonishing new ground in the 400m hurdles, or Marcell Jacobs' unlikely 100m success, or Andre De Grasse living up to the billing as the heir to Usain Bolt with his ascension to the top of the podium in the 200m, or Neeraj Chopra breaking new ground for India with a heck of a javelin throw.

    Every which way you turn there are stories to ignite that burning love of the Olympics. There is just something enduringly beautiful about humans (yes, humans not just athletes) conquering greatness, yielding reward for unthinkable hours of graft just to peak at the right time in an allotted slot over two weeks of sporting bedlam.

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    Simone Biles, the living legend gymnast was tipped to be the face of the Games but, sort of poetically in keeping with the theme of Tokyo 2020, it did not go exactly to plan. There was just one rotation in the team final before she sat out the rest of the night. Four more withdrawals followed before she returned to take a quite brilliant bronze on the balance beam.

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    In the immediate here and now, the mood seems still split between those inspired by the against-all-odds nature and those who felt like the Games just…sort of happened, we went through the motions, survived with a few blemishes but no major hiccups.

    It is impossible to fully accept Bach's opening-ceremony assertion that Tokyo 2020 is the light to lead us out of a dark tunnel.

    But perhaps it is the message of hope that permeated light through the darkness that can be the real lasting legacy of Tokyo 2020. After all, given everything we've been through for over a year and a half, we could all use a little hope in our lives.

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