Claudio Berardelli & Federico Rosa (via PhotoRun)
As Defalate-Gate continues to be the lead story leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX in America, Inflate-gate (as in performance) continues to make headlines in Kenya.
With the case against discredited Kenyan marathon star Rita Jeptoo still awaiting final disposition, the IAAF handed down sanctions Tuesday January 27th against eight Kenyan athletes for doping violations (mostly marathon runners). It was also reported by The Daily Nation that Ms. Jeptoo’s Italian manager Federico Rosa of Rosa & Associates has followed through with his intention of introducing blood testing for all the athletes in his Kenyan stable.
The technology used for such testing arrived in Kenya on Monday and was being cleared at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s customs department, according to The Daily Nation.
Two weeks ago Ms. Jeptoo gave testimony before an Athletics Kenya doping commission, and faces either a two or four-year ban after having produced a positive result for the banned blood-booster EPO in an out-of-competition test preceding last fall’s Chicago Marathon, a race she won for the second year in a row. Jeptoo’s coach Claudio Berardelli and Mr. Rosa also gave testimony before the commission, as did her estranged husband Noah Busienie, who coached Jeptoo before Mr. Berardelli.
With three Boston and two Chicago Marathon titles Jeptoo is the biggest name caught up in the growing performance-enhancing drug scandal coming out of Kenya in recent years, a scandal that threatens to undermine belief in the entire scope of excellence that the world has come to
expect from the East African distance running juggernaut. Continue reading
Dennis Kimetto, marathon world record holder
There were highs (American Meb Keflezighi‘s magnificent win in Boston) and lows (Kenyan Rita Jeptoo testing positive for EPO), but some things ran along a well worn path in the world of marathoning in 2014. Chief among those was the utter domination of Kenya and Ethiopia in the ranks of the men’s marathon.
Fully 95 of the top 100 times posted this past year hailed from those two nations (57/38), led by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 world record in Berlin in September. By comparison, last year 89 of the top 100 marathon times came from Kenya (55) and Ethiopia (34), led by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang‘s 2:03:23 world record, also in Berlin.
This year presumptive world number one Kipsang had to console himself with major wins in London (2:04:27 course record) and New York City (2:10:59 in chilled and windy conditions). Those two wins sewed up the $500,000 bonus for winning the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors series. Nice consolation.
Wilson Kipsang battles Lelisa Desisa for New York title in November.
However, revelations out of Kenya late this year pointing to a growing drug scandal and corruption charges have left the more cynical among us wondering how pure that dominance may be, or if we truly are in a golden age of the sport or simply an increasingly deceptive one. However, until further evidence surfaces we take what has been presented at face value. Continue reading
The political season of athletics is upon us. This weekend in Anaheim, California USA Track & Field (USATF), the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States, convened for its annual meeting. While this family gathering has degenerated in past years into internecine squabbles, last night USATF CEO Max Siegel gave an encouraging State of the Sport address in which he presented several new initiatives across the USATF platform, while announcing two new sponsor partnerships with Hoka One One and Rosetta Stone.
Also, today we heard 1980s Olympic middle-distance champion Sebastian Coe of England announce his candidacy to replace retiring IAAF president Lamine Diack of Senegal in 2015. Lord Coe released a Manifesto in conjunction with his announcement, ‘Growing Athletics in a New Age’. Coe’s primary opponent for the IAAF top job will be another athletics icon of the 20th century, pole vaulter Sergey Bubka of Ukraine who also currently serves as an IAAF Vice President .
In light of these tidings, I thought I would release the contents of the keynote address I made to the Global Athletics Conference in Durban, South Africa in November as it speaks to many of the same issues which confront the leaders of this age-old sport. Titled “Media Matters”, these are subjects which I have written about in the past on this site.
Rita Jeptoo in better times, winning her second Chicago Marathon title in October
New York, New York — With a new title sponsor, a new logo, and a new mayor on board, the TCS New York City Marathon’s mood leading up to its 44th running had a happy Halloween joyfulness to it. Then we awoke to news that World Marathon Majors Series women’s champion Rita Jeptoo of Kenya had reportedly tested positive for an illegal substance (EPO) in an out of competition drug test this September before her win at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The news, coming just days before the World Marathon Majors was scheduled to award its $1 million dollar prize to its two 2013-2014 series champions placed a cloud over New York’s pinnacle running weekend as the professional international field for Sunday’s race was being presented to the assembled press. It also had the World Marathon Majors scrambling to cancel its Sunday awards as more details regarding Jeptoo were being gathered.
The first person I saw in the hotel lobby this morning was Virgin Money London Marathon president and World Marathon Majors general counsel Nick Bitel. Nick just shook his head, knowing that his partners at World Marathon Majors had just signed their first ever title sponsor, Abbott, to a four year contract in Chicago. And now, the first big news after Chicago and in the world media capital was a positive drug test of their World Marathon Majors women’s champion? Not good. And this is after two-time WMM series champion Lilya Shobukhova of Russia, three-time Chicago champion (2009-2011) as well as the 2010 London Marathon champ had had all her results annulled from 2009 on following an adverse finding on her biological passport indicative of drug use.
But at least Bitel was pleased, if that’s even the right word, that the test that uncovered the alleged drug positive by Jeptoo had come, in part, via funding provided by World Marathon Majors in cooperation with the IAAF. In the past, getting testers into the wilds of rural Kenya for out of competition testing has been quite problematic. Now, with WMM backing, the bitter fruits of those labors have been harvested, it would seem a,s a spate of drug positives have come out of Kenya over the last several years. Continue reading
Boston Scarred by Terror
Boston, Ma. — When the two bombs tore through the jubilant crowds lining the finish line of today’s 117th Boston Marathon it did more than halt the race in its tracks, leaving nearly 4500 runners between 40K and the finish unable to complete their Boston experience. It turned the world on its head.
At 2:50 p.m. what had moments before been an ongoing celebration of the human spirit instantly transformed into a chaotic reflection of man’s darkest impulse. What had been moving testimony to the best in man became instead a shocking indictment against the evil that has festered in far too many hearts in far too many places for far too long a time. Now the roll call of communities which share the sad distinction of being targets of terror includes Boston, the cradle of American freedom. And, yes, it happened on Patriot’s Day at that, a day commemorating what it means for a community to come together and say to the world ‘for this we will fight’, ‘for this we will stand as one for all to see.’ Continue reading