Arbitration court upholds life ban on three athletics officials over alleged doping cover-up

By Newsdesk

The Sports highest tribunal Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) imposed life bans on three top athletics officials over an alleged doping cover-up.

Son of IAAF ex-president Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, former head of the Russian athletics federation, Valentin Balakhnichev and the country’s former head distance coach, Alexei Melnikov, had their appeals dismissed.

They were charged in December 2015 with multiple breaches of anti-doping rules relating to Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova.

“The IAAF Ethics Commission decision is confirmed and Valentin Balakhnichev, Alexei Melnikov and Papa Massata Diack remain banned for life from any involvement in the sport of athletics,” said CAS in announcing its verdict on Monday.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it welcomed the Cas ruling and IAAF president, Lord Coe added: “The ruling sends a clear message that anyone who attempts to corrupt our sport will be brought to justice.”

In a 170-page report, the independent IAAF ethics commission panel ruled Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov conspired to “blackmail” Shobukhova to cover up her doping violations by her paying them “bribes” of about £435,000.

Diack and Balakhnichev, a former president of the Russian athletics federation and IAAF treasurer, were fined £17,000 while Russian coach Melnikov was fined £10,000.

In December, Diack told reporters that he totally rejects the blackmail allegations, saying: “There was no extortion of funds from any athlete.”

Investment in sports crucial to winning competitions-Ambode

By Newsdesk

Apparently concern by dismal performance of Nigerian athletes at 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world championship,

The Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has stressed importance of adequate investment in sports as necessary impetus that can aid Nigerian athletes to excel at every competition.

Ambode’s reaction came as curtain is drawn on 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World championship in London, where Nigerian athletes failed to win any medal.

The governor made the remarks while speaking to journalists at end of Seamaster ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open held at Molade Okoya Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, tagged Lagos 2017.

He said government and all stakeholders must now invest more in sports to take the country to its rightful place in the world of sports.

Ambode expressed excitement at the successful hosting of the tournament which attracted Table Tennis stars from 22 countries, saying that the development was gratifying and in line with his vision to use sports as a catalyst for growth and development of the economy.

“We are very happy to have hosted this competition. This is the fourth edition and you can see that this year’s competition has actually attracted more people and then more countries. The idea is to use sports as a catalyst for the growth and development of the economy.

“It is also a catalyst for tourism and it is my strong believe that we must continue to support sports as a means of allowing us to develop the mental capabilities of younger ones and Lagos State is ready to do that,” he added

When asked whether he was disappointed that no Nigerian qualified for the finals of the competition, Ambode said on the contrary, he was not disappointed but that the development called for greater investment in sports.

“I am not disappointed at all about that. It’s called Nigerian open and so it’s open to everybody and again we had Nigerians in the semifinal. So, we need to do more work and then more coaching and also develop sports. Government has to support sports thoroughly if you want to see Nigerians in the finals.

“I mean you can see the level of skill-set that the Egyptians displayed here and if we say we are giant of Africa, we have to prove it in all ramifications. So, my believe is that government has to spend more time and money in developing sports in this country,” Ambode added.

Speaking on plans for the competition next year, the Governor promised to increase the price money and also the number of participating countries, saying that as the destination for sports in Africa, Lagos must lead the way in promoting sporting tournaments.

“For me, I am going to scale up the price money to attract more people to come for this competition. So next year, you will see more price money and then more countries participating in the competition. Lagos is the destination for sports in Africa and that is the only way we have to go,” the Governor said.

The overall winner of the competition, Assar Omar from Egypt, went home with $5,000, while the first runner up, Gandhi Sarthak from India went home with $2,300.

USA athletics, Bowie, wins female 100m world championship final in London

By Newsdesk

United State of America (USA), athletics, Tori Bowie has won 100 meters race at the 2017 World athletics championship in London, defeating her Jamaican contender, Elaine Thompson, who was the defending champion of last Olympics.

Efforts by the Jamaicans Thompson and Ellyn-Johnson to clinch any medal further suffered setbacks after Ivory Coasts athletes, Marie Josee Ta Lou and Netherlands sprinter, Dafne Schippers, claimed silver and bronze respectively.

The American athletes won the keenly contested race at 10.85 seconds – a season’s best – while Ta Lou was timed at 10.86, which is a personal best. And Dafne Schippers took bronze and it looks like a little stumble midway down the straight might have cost favourite Thompson.

Thompson’s defeat further inflicted more pains on Jamaican athletics team, that had dominated the scene for over a decade, barely 24 hours after Usain Bolt was usurped by Justin Gatlin at the 100 meters male final.

It would be recalled that after 2005 in Helsinki that they failed to land either the men’s or women’s 100m title at a world championships, the Caribbean nation had often dominated the track and field.

Reacting over her failure to win the gold medal, Thompson, lamented that she does not know what was responsible for her performance.

She said: “I tried to get a start. I don’t know what happened, I’ll have to look back and watch. I don’t want to make excuses. It was a strong field and I competed with these girls all season.”

World record holder, Rudisha, out of Athletics Championships over injury

By Newsdesk

The 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, has pulled out of next month’s World Athletics Championships in London with a quad muscle strain.

Defending champion, who set his ground-breaking mark of 1min 40.91sec in winning Olympic gold five years ago  was sad and disappointing to miss out on the event, which runs from 4 – 13 August.

The 28-year-old is ranked only 19th in the world this year, but his absence still deprives the London championships of one of the sport’s biggest names.

“Its sad and disappointing to announce my no show in the forthcoming london 2017 WC due to a quad muscle strain.” he said.

His fellow Kenyans, Emmanuel Korir and Botswana’s Nijel Amos are expected to battle for the gold in Rudisha’s absence.

Rudisha, who is the only person to ever run under one minute 41 seconds for the event said earlier this week he was excited to return to London, where he set the 800m world record of one minute 40.91 seconds five years ago.

The world championships get under way at the London Stadium on Friday.

 

British long jumper, Rutherford, pulls out of world championships over injury

By Newsdesk

The British Athletics body announced on Tuesday that reigning world long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, would not defend his crown in London next month after being forced to withdraw from the championships through injury.

The former Olympic champion had been hoping to return to the stadium where he famously won his gold in 2012 but has had to admit defeat to a series of injury woes over the season.

Meanwhile, Richard Kilty, who was selected for the 4x100m relay, has also pulled out of the event with a broken finger.

However, Shara Proctor, Jazmin Sawyers, Lennie Waite, Marc Scott and Jess Turner have been added to the GB squad.

Rutherford said he had done everything he could to compete at the stadium where he won his Olympic gold five years ago but had failed to overcome an ankle ligament injury.

“With an incredible start to the year in training, and very promising early season form, I have had a difficult series of setbacks as the season progressed,” added Rutherford, who also won Commonwealth gold in 2014 and the European title in 2014 and 2016.

“Most recently, a badly damaged ankle ligament and a sportsman’s hernia, really put paid to my plans. The injuries have taken longer to heal than we hoped, and I have been unable to even jump at all in training, let alone compete.

“I am truly gutted. That stadium is such a special place for me, I am so devastated that I won’t be competing in front of the best fans in the world, in the stadium that changed my life.”

According to performance director for British Athletics, Neil Black, Greg is one of only a few British athletes to complete the ‘Grand Slam’ of medals, but that won’t make missing London any easier.

“He desperately wanted to defend his world title in front of the home crowd, but unfortunately his injury hasn’t cleared up in time and the hard but sensible decision had to be made to withdraw.”

Meanwhile, Proctor and Sawyers would contest the long jump, Waite would run the 3,000m steeplechase, Scott the 5,000m and Turner will be in the 400m hurdles.

The World Championships take place from 4 – 13 August at the London Stadium and an 81-strong team will represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Tokyo Olympic stadium worker’s death due to overwork-Family

By Newsdesk and agency report

Following death of a construction worker at site of the main Tokyo Olympic stadium, his family has requested labor authorities to certify his death as being employment-related.

The family said they believe the worker killed himself from overwork, saying, the 23-year old man died due to his unbearable workload that had seen him exceed 200 hours of overtime monthly.

Counsel to the family, Hiroshi Kawahito, told newsmen that though working schedule was extremely tight but laborers’ lives were sacrificed to actualise quick completion of the project which was constructed for 2020 Olympic games.

Construction of the National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games had been delayed by almost a year due to the scrapping of an already approved design and ballooning costs, putting undue pressure on the workers to make up for the delay, Kawahito intimated.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, said that an investigation is underway at the stadium construction site to investigate other cases of overwork.

“We cannot tolerate any fatalities at construction sites for the Olympics while everyone is working for their success. We will try to cut working hours,” Shiozaki added.

The family’s lawyer said the deceased graduated from university and after leaving school worked for the construction company since April last year, noting, his role of managing ground improvement work at the stadium site in Tokyo began in December of the same year.

It was gathered that the victim was declared missing after telling his company he would take leave on March 2. But his body was four months ago in Nagano Prefecture in Japan. Also, a note found nearby his body indicated that he had killed himself, local police said.

The family found that he had worked around 211 hours of overtime one month and 143 hours the next. The labor-management agreement permits a maximum of 80 hours of overtime a month.

It also applied for compensation from the construction firm claiming that his suicide was due to insufferable depression and other psychological issues directly relating to being overworked.

Taisei Corp., a construction company handling work at the national stadium, said it would instruct the firm responsible for labor management to strictly adhere to law.

Sources said that risk of illness and death from working too many hours is prevalent in Japan, with “karoshi” (death from overwork) incidents rarely out of the headlines.

The CEO of the Dentsu Inc., the fifth-largest advertising agency in the world and the largest in Japan, Tadashi Ishii, relinquished his post at the firm to take responsibility for the high-profile suicide on Christmas day two years ago of one of the agency’s young female employees, who had been ludicrously overworked.

 

IAAF clears eight Russian athletes, rejects 53 applicants

By Newsdesk

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has cleared eight more Russian athletes to compete as neutrals by world athletics’ governing body after they met exceptional criteria on Thursday.

A total of 61 cases were reviewed by the IAAF’s doping review board in the latest round of applications, with 53 declined after it was suspended by the athletics’ governing body in 2015 amid allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Russia’s national athletics federation, RUSAF, remains suspended as a result of widespread and systematic doping, meaning that the majority of the country’s athletes will miss next month’s world championships in London.

According to IAAF president, Lord Coe, the body have declared this process was about supporting the hopes and aspirations of all clean athletes, including Russian athletes who have been failed by their national system.

Ilya Ivanyuk

This year, 109 applications have been turned down and 47 approved, of which nine were specifically for the World Under-18 Championships and two for the European Under-20 Championships.

The latest athletes to be approved to compete as neutrals, subject to acceptance of their entries by meeting organisers, are Ilya Ivanyuk (high jump), Sergey Litvinov (hammer), Alena Lutkovskaya (pole vault), Danil Lysenko (high jump), Sofia Palkina (hammer), Valery Pronkin (hammer), Vladislav Saraykin (race walk), Ekaterina Sokolenko (3,000m steeplechase).

Bolt confirms World Championships as last competition

By Newsdesk

Eight-time Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt, has confirmed that World Championships in London would be his final event before retiring from the track and field.

The Jamaican athlete would run 100m and 4x100m relay at the tournament in August, has led one of the most illustrious careers in the history of athletics. Bolt, an  and an icon of world sport,

“My aim is to win in London. I want to retire on a winning note,” Bolt said on Wednesday.

The men’s 100m final is due to place on Saturday, 5 August, while the men’s 4x100m relay race – which would mark the end of Bolt’s career – takes place on the following Saturday.

The 30-year-old Bolt has won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the past three Olympic Games – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

However, his unprecedented ‘triple triple’ of nine gold medals was downgraded to eight after Jamaican team-mate Nesta Carter, who was part of the quartet that won the 4x100m in Beijing, tested positive for a banned substance. Carter has appealed against the decision.

Nevertheless, Bolt’s exploits remain unprecedented and he also holds the world record in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19).

In June he raced for the final time on home soil, clocking 10.03 seconds to win the ‘Salute a Legend’ 100m race before taking a lap of honour in front of a sell-out Kingston crowd of 30,000.

Before the World Championships that would takes place from 4-13 in August, he would also compete in the 100m at the Diamond League event in Monaco on Friday.

WADA permits Russia’s anti-doping agency to resume drug testing under supervision

By Newsdesk

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it would permitted the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to plan and coordinate testing of its athletes under supervision.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, in announcing the change on Tuesday, said it was satisfied RUSADA had met four key demands which among them is removal of Yelena Isinbayeva from RUSADA and her replacement with an independent chair and vice-chair.

RUSADA is authorized to do so, using its trained doping control officers (DCOs), under the supervision of WADA-appointed international experts and the British Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD), WADA said in a statement posted on its official site.

In 2015 RUSADA was branded non-compliant, and was suspended after its staff were accused of covering up drug use in a report by lawyer Richard McLaren.

WADA said on Tuesday it was now satisfied with RUSADA’s fulfillment of the four demands, which included drug testers being allowed access to closed cities where it said athletes continued to evade testing, access to athletes’ biological passports, and the implementation of a conflict of interest policy.

According to WADA President, Craig Reedie, the development represented a milestone toward RUSADA’s retrieval of its accreditation although there is still more to be done.

“After much work by the Agency and its partners, resumption of testing represents an important step forward in rebuilding anti-doping in Russia.

“We strongly encourage Russia to continue their efforts in the interest of clean athletes worldwide.” Reedie said in a statement

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, welcomed WADA’s decision as a very important step toward RUSADA becoming compliant.

“We are striving to create a strong, independent anti-doping agency which, I hope, will win the respect and recognition of its colleagues,” Mutko said.

Isinbayeva stepped down from her position as chair of RUSADA’s supervisory council last month, although she still remains a member.

Isinbayeva’s appointment last December had infuriated WADA because she was a virulent critic of the decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban Russian track and field athletes from international competition.

A majority of Russian athletes are set to miss the world championships in London in August if the ban is not overturned.

Fifteen athletes, including 2015 world champion hurdler, Sergey Shubenkov, have so far been cleared by the IAAF to compete as neutrals in international competitions after having demonstrated they have been training in an environment that fulfils the necessary anti-doping requirements.

American Paralympic brakes Pistorius’ world record after 6yrs

An American, Blake Leeper, has set a new record in paralympic race after he broke South African Oscar Pistorius’s T43 world record during 400 meters race when he ran 45.25 seconds at the U.S. athletics championships yesterday.

Leeper finished a non-advancing seventh of a semi-final race despite competing as a double amputee, braking Pistorius set record of 45.39 seconds at Daegu, South Korea in August, 2011.

“It is hard to believe. To run 45.25 to break the world record, I am excited for the future,” said the 27-year-old Tennessee native who lives in Southern California.

 

Paralympic gold medallist Pistorius is serving a six-year jail term after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2013.