REIGNING MEN’S para-athletics javelin (F43) and discus (F43) world record-holder Akeem Stewart is presently on course to becoming the second athlete from the Western Hemisphere to participate in both the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
News - Olympic Games
United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chief executive Scott Blackmun has received a six-year extension to his contract at the body's annual Assembly today in Colorado Springs in reward for the "spectacularly good job" he is doing.
This comes despite a tumultuous year for the organisation in which they surprisingly nominated Boston as the US contender for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics only to be forced into a U-turn six months later, withdrawing their support in favour of Los Angeles, the city most people had assumed would be selected in the first place.
Blackmun admitted himself at the opening of the Assembly that they had made a "bad call" in supporting Boston and that he and USOC chairman Larry Probst have been eating "large slices of that always nourishing . . . humble pie" ever since.
But in what can be seen as a huge confidence booster for the official, Probst said today that it was a "no brainer" for he and the Board to extend Blackmun's contract.
He will serve until at least June, 2021, and is then expected to be given the option to extend it further thereafter.
“In his five-plus years as chief executive, Scott has done an extraordinary job of professionalising the USOC, dramatically increasing the resources available to America’s elite athletes and ensuring the organisation plays an appropriate role in the worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Movements,” Probst said.
“This extension is in recognition of Scott’s record of achievement, and a signal from our Board that his capable and consistent leadership is critically important to our organisation’s long-term success and our ability to serve the athletes at the core of our mission.”
When asked about the timing of the announcement, Probst described it as a "process that has unfolded over multiple meetings", before adding that it was seen as "an appropriate time" now that the situation with Boston has been resolved.
Since Blackmun took up his post in 2010, the US have enjoyed success at both the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Olympic Games, while also nearly doubling net philanthropic support in the 2009 to 2012 period from the previous four years.
Speaking after the meeting, Probst was also full of praise for the progress made by Los Angeles 2024 in the 24 days since they were confirmed as the US contender.
Bid leader Casey Wasserman met the Board today and gave them "a lot of confidence that he has the passion and vision to get thing done, and for the US to deliver a bid that is worthy of the competition", he said.
Longstanding relations between Wasserman and both Blackmun and Probst were also praised and they "don’t anticipate any issues going forward between Bid Committee and the NOC."
Los Angeles is one of five cities to have submitted its bid to the International Olympic Committee last week, with opposition provided by four European cities in Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome.
A final decision is set to be made by the IOC at its Session in Lima in 2017.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach is due to speak at the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York on Saturday (September 26), a key-step in his highly-publicised aim of including sport as one of the UN's goals following the event.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recalled his days as an Olympic athlete representative with Sebastian Coe here today as he said he was “absolutely sure” that, under the Briton's impending Presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the two organisations would work “very, very closely together” to eradicate doping.
Bach’s first question at the joint IAAF/IOC press conference related to the current problem athletics has with doping allegations and how significant it would be for Coe to be involved as President.
“You may know that Sebastian Coe and I have come a long way together and actually this was started with the fight against doping in 1981 when as athlete representatives in the Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden we were asking for a lifelong ban for any infringement on the anti-doping rules," he said.
“From this time on we have always been together in this fight and in this effort to protect the clean athletes.
“This is why I am not only confident, this is why I am absolutely sure that the IOC and IAAF, with President Seb Coe, will work very, very closely together in a zero tolerance policy against doping.”
Bach, winner of a fencing team gold medal in the foil for Germany at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, added that both he and Coe had vainly sought lifetime bans for doping at that time.
“If you ask me about my emotions I would say really, yes, a lifetime ban I would still support,” he said.
“But I had to learn from different courts and lawyers, like Seb Coe and others asking for this, that this is legally just not possible.
“A lifelong ban does not stand any kind of challenge, so we have to accept this.
“It is a matter of human rights.”
Cricket may not be an Olympic sport - yet - but Bach played a straight bat to the question of how the IOC felt about the recent allegations that had been levelled at thenumber one Olympic sport.
“First of all it is too early here to speculate about results,” he said.
“We have been in contact with the IAAF from the very beginning of these allegations and have had the opportunity to discuss the subject on different levels.
“We have also learned about the statement from WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and the Independent Commission from WADA which I think is very clear.
“Until 2009, before the Athlete Biological Passport was introduced, none of the test results contained in this database could be used as proof for doping.
“They could only serve as an indication for target testing.
"And there the IAAF has explained to us in different ways that this is what they have done, following up with the target testing.
“Since WADA said at the same time that it would be libellous to make the allegations of doping at this point in time I will not make such allegation and such comments.
“We are waiting now together with the IAAF for the results of the enquiry of this Independent Commission.”
Bach added that Coe’s proposal of establishing an independent anti-doping authority within world athletics was “quite interesting”, adding that it would be discussed at tne Olympic Summit in Lausanne during October.
“Obviously the protection of clean athletes will be on the agenda and we will have the opportunity to discuss the proposal among others because we always give thought to ways of improving the fight against doping in sport.”
Asked if he felt action had to be taken to “restore the credibility” of athletics in the wake of recent doping allegations, outgoing IAAF President Lamine Diack responded: “I don’t think it has been lost.
"There are allegations, accusations, lots of upheaval in the press.
"But if all this leads people to believe our sport is lost, where are we going then?
“There are all these accusations that we have done nothing, which is wrong, I think this is just sensational journalism.
"They are just trying to take advantage of this. the credibility of our sport has not been impinged.
“So Seb Coe takes the relay baton. He goes on fighting with the same transparency and strength.
“If you write in a paper that the doping results have been hidden since 2001, this is ridiculous, it hardly deserves an answer.
“We are trying to solve this problem as well as we can. Do you think we are doing nothing?
“If you think that one positive result is more important than 1,000 negative results there is nothing much I can do for you.”
Thomas Bach held out hope to Allyson Felix today that she might yet be able to realise her ambition of challenging for both the 200 and 400m titles at next year’s Rio Olympics.
As things stand Felix, who is due to compete over both distances here at the 15th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, cannot do the same in Rio as the track and field programme does not allow it.
But Bach responded positively to a question asked on the topic at the IAAF/IOC press conference:
“The Olympic programme has been defined in principle, but if we have a special case where we could help an athlete we should still be ready to discuss it.
“I cannot give you the result up front of such discussions, but we would be ready to reconsider this matter and see how we could or what we could do because this would be not about one event, it would have repercussions on others.”
The track and field programme was similarly altered at the 1996 Atlanta Games, offering Felix’s fellow US athlete Michael Johnson the opportunity of becoming the first man to win Olympic 200 and 400 titles at the same Games - an opportunity he took, clocking a world record of 19.32sec and 43.49 respectively.
Lamine Diack, outgoing President of the IAAF, sounded a little less positive on the subject however, commenting:
“Thomas gave us an answer and there’s nothing to add.
“But if we want to accommodate each and every single athlete it will be very difficult.”