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Athletics: Amputee Leeper to miss worlds over eligibility issue

American double amputee Blake Leeper will not be eligible to compete in this month’s world championships while an advisory group determines his eligibility, the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, said on Saturday.

Leeper, who was born without legs below the knees, finished fifth in the 400 metres at the U.S. championships in July which normally would have qualified him for the Americans’ world championships 4 x 400m relay squad.

But the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Saturday that the 30-year-old will not be eligible for the Sept. 27-Oct 6 championships in Doha.

“An application has been submitted by Mr Leeper to compete in the 2019 World Championships and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which is under review by an advisory group,” the IAAF said in a statement to Reuters.

“A recommendation from the advisory group will be made later this year so Mr Leeper will not be eligible to compete in this month’s WCHs.”

The advisory group will determine whether Leeper’s prostheses give him an advantage over other competitors and it will be Leeper’s burden to prove they do not, his lawyers said in a statement on Thursday

The attorneys represented South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius, winning a 2008 ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that he could race against able-bodied athletes.

This time, they have objected to the burden of proof being shifted to Leeper, a silver medallist at the 2012 Paralympics.

“The IAAF placing the burden of proof on Mr. Leeper is inconsistent with the precedent of Oscar Pistorius, in which the IAAF had the burden of proof to show that Mr. Pistorius’s prostheses provided him with an overall competitive advantage,” Leeper’s lawyers said.

“[It was] a burden that the IAAF failed to establish which enabled Mr. Pistorius to compete in IAAF events and the 2012 London Olympics.”

Leeper himself also objected. “The IAAF placing the burden on disabled athletes to prove that their prostheses do not provide an overall advantage is wrong and unlawful,” he said in the statement.

The IAAF said on Saturday it would not comment beyond its statement.

“The IAAF competition rules state clearly that mechanical assistance to athletes is not allowed during athletics competitions, unless the athlete can establish on the balance of probabilities that the use of an aid would not provide him with an overall competitive advantage,” the IAAF told Reuters in July.

Leeper was allowed to compete in the U.S. championships on a conditional basis, U.S. officials have said, but the IAAF has declined to recognise his results this year.

“His results will not be ratified, because the athlete has not provided any evidence to IAAF that meets the rule stated above nor have the blades been classified under the new Maximum Allowable Standing Height (MASH) formula,” the IAAF said in July.

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FAB FIVE: TEENAGE WINNERS AT THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

 As we continue our countdown to the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, we look at a quintet of special athletes who defied age logic to be crowned world champions in their teenage years.

ELIUD KIPCHOGE

Men’s 5000m, 2003 – age 18

Eliud Kipchoge winning the 2003 world 5000m title (Getty Images)
Eliud Kipchoge winning the 2003 world 5000m title (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

The Kenyan marathon icon may be virtually invincible today over the 42.2km distance but very few would have predicted a 5000m gold medal at the 2003 World Championships in Paris against the powerful twin threat of Moroccan middle-distance maestro Hicham El Guerrouj and Ethiopia’s distance running king Kenenisa Bekele.

The pre-race talk was centred on which of the pair would secure a second gold in the Stade de France after the former had landed a fourth successive world 1500m title and the latter had pocketed the 10,000m crown. However, in one of the all-time great championship races, it was Kipchoge, who earlier that year had posted a world U20 5000m record, who shaded a frantic dash for the line in 12:52.79 to launch the beginning of his legendary career.

KIRANI JAMES

Men’s 400m, 2001 – age 18

Kirani James taking the world 400m title in 2011 (Getty Images)
Kirani James taking the world 400m title in 2011 (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

A winner of 400m titles at the 2009 World U18 Championships and the 2010 World U20 Championships, the teenage Grenadian’s talent had been evident for some time. In his final pre-event outing before the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, he blitzed to an area U20 record of 44.61 in London to offer genuine evidence of his gold medal credentials in South Korea.

In a fearless display, the tall, raw but talented James edged the defending world champion LaShawn Merritt by just 0.03 to wrestle the title from the US sprinter’s grip. The following year James, who was still a teenager at the time, added the Olympic 400m crown to his collection of global titles.

GHIRMAY GHEBRESLASSIE

Men’s marathon, 2015 – age 19

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, 2015 world marathon champion (Getty Images)
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, 2015 world marathon champion (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

His parents may have actively discouraged the Eritrean from starting a runner career, but he answered any family criticism in the best possible way by becoming the youngest athlete to take this title with a mature performance on the streets of Beijing.

In only his third completed marathon, Ghebreslassie refused to panic when Tshepo Ramonene built up a sizeable lead in the second half of the race. The diminutive Ghebreslassie caught and passed the man from Lesotho at 36km and eventually ran out a gold medallist by a victory margin of 40 seconds. The following year he added further gloss to his career by securing the New York City Marathon crown.

ALLYSON FELIX

Women’s 200m, 2005 – age 19

Allyson Felix taking the 2005 world 200m title in Helsinki (Getty Images)
Allyson Felix taking the 2005 world 200m title in Helsinki (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

The most successful female athlete in World Championships history began her mind-boggling record of 11 golds, three silver and two bronze at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium with a trademark performance.

Remaining cool and calm despite Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and Christine Arron of France holding a clear advantage at different stages of the race, the long-legged American, running with typical relaxed assurance, timed her run to perfection to strike gold in 22.16 – by 0.15 from her compatriot Rachelle Smith.

TIRUNESH DIBABA

Women’s 5000m, 2003 – age 18

Tirunesh Dibaba en route to the 2003 world 5000m title (Getty Images)
Tirunesh Dibaba en route to the 2003 world 5000m title (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

The greatest female distance runner in World Championships history secured her first global gold in Paris by destroying her more experienced rivals with a devastating late burst of speed.

Down the back stretch it appeared the fight for gold would be between Spain’s Marta Dominguez, Kenya’s Edith Masai and Yelena Zadorozhnaya of Russia only for the classy Ethiopian to glide past them on the outside and secure a victory by a little over half a second in 14:51.72. Dibaba went on to bank a further four World Championship gold medals and three Olympic titles during a stellar career.

(Steve Landells for the IAAF)

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HARRISON, NORMAN AND ECHEVARRIA SET FOR STOCKHOLM – IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE

World record-holders, world leaders and world ranked No.1 athletes will compete at the Bauhaus-galan when the IAAF Diamond League reaches Stockholm on Thursday 30 May.

USA’s Kendra Harrison, world ranked No.1 in the 100m hurdles, returns to Stockholm for her first IAAF Diamond League appearance of 2019.

The world indoor champion won in Stockholm in 2016, just five weeks before she broke the world record with her 12.20 run in London.

Michael Norman has established himself as one of the most exciting up-and-coming athletes. The US sprinter opened his 2019 campaign with a world-leading 400m PB of 43.45 and he will contest his first 400m race in the IAAF Diamond League in Stockholm.

“Michael Norman is the most exciting runner in the world at the moment after opening his season a month ago, just four tenths of a second from the world record,” says meeting director Jan Kowalski. “On Sunday he ran 200m in 19.84 into a headwind and I think that he can challenge the 400m world record in Stockholm.”

Norman’s 43.45 places him fourth on the world all-time list behind Wayde van Niekerk’s world record of 43.03, set when winning the Olympic title in 2016.

“I’m excited to be running my first 400m race in Europe against a world-class field,” said Norman. “With so much depth in the 400m around the world, the anticipation leading up to Bauhaus-galan is getting me excited. I can’t wait to see what the atmosphere is like and what fast times will come out of this meet.”

Cuban long jumper Juan Miguel Echevarria will return to the scene of his headline-making leap of 8.83m from 12 months ago.

The world indoor champion, aged just 19 at the time, was denied a lifetime best in Stockholm last year as the wind was just marginally over the limit at 2.1m/s, but three weeks later he set a wind-legal PB of 8.68m to top the 2018 world list.

“It was a memorable day,” said Echevarria, who opened his 2019 outdoor campaign with a wind-assisted 8.92m. “The jump came in the sixth and final round so I was quite tired but I remember that I hit the board well and my take off was really good. It will be such fun to compete at Bauhaus-galan again. The crowd certainly inspires you to great results.”

World champion and world No.1 Luvo Manyonga, Olympic champion Jeff Henderson and European champion Miltiádis Tentóglou are also in the long jump field.

IAAF Diamond League champion Timothy Cheruiyot, world ranked No.1 at 1500m, will face all three Ingebrigtsen brothers – Henrik, Filip and Jakob – in the 1500m.

The other world No.1 ranked athletes set to compete in Stockholm are Ramil Guliyev (200m), Sam Kendricks (pole vault), Fedrick Dacres (discus), Laura Muir (1500m), Hellen Obiri (5000m), Mariya Lasitskene (high jump) and Sandra Perkovic (discus).

The star-studded field also includes the best Swedish athletes, including discus thrower Daniel Ståhl and pole vaulter Angelica Bengtsson.

Organisers for the IAAF

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Athletics: IAAF continues its ban on Russian athletics

MONACO- Russia still has not met key requirements for the reinstatement of its athletics federation and an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban instituted in 2015 will remain in effect, the global governing body said on Sunday.

The IAAF’s council unanimously approved the continuation of the suspension, following a recommendation by its Russia doping taskforce

The decision comes despite denials by Russian political and sports leaders of doping problems in the country.

No timetable was given for reinstatement.

The decision means Russian athletes will not be allowed to compete under their country’s flag at March’s world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, unless the IAAF’s “roadmap” to reinstatement is met.

Athletes whose drug-testing history has been reviewed, however, will be allowed to participate as neutral athletes as they did at August’s world championships in London.

Russian leaders’ refusal to admit that a state-sponsored doping program existed has been a key sticking point in lifting the ban, which was instituted in November 2015 after the McLaren report discovered widespread doping in Russia.

Russia’s anti-doping agency must become a fully independent body that is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code and an effective testing plan must be developed for the country to be reinstated, taskforce chairman Rune Andersen told a news conference.

“The broader question is whether they will be able to operate in a system which we can trust,” Andersen said.

“It is our responsibility to create that landscape where there is trust,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

The IAAF decision comes just days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meets on Dec. 5-6 in Lausanne to determine whether Russian athletes can compete in February’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

WADA earlier this month declared Russia’s anti-doping agency non-compliant with the WADA Code but it will be the IOC that makes the final decision on the country’s participation.

The IAAF also awarded its 2020 world indoor championships to Nanjing, China, and announced that Morocco had been removed from its anti-doping watch list.

Belarus, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ukraine remain on the list.
(Gene Cherry)

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Barshim and Thiam named 2017 Athletes of the Year

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2017, held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on Friday (24).

Barshim, 26, was one of the most consistent and dominant athletes of the year. Starting with a 2.35m leap in Jeddah in April and ending with a 2.40m jump in Eberstadt in August, Barshim pieced together an undefeated season across 11 competitions.

He won the world title in impressive fashion, clearing all of his heights up to his winning mark of 2.35m on his first attempt. One week after his triumph in London, he jumped a world-leading 2.40m in Birmingham and followed it four days later with a winning jump of 2.36m in Zurich to secure the IAAF Diamond League title.

Barshim ended the 2017 season with nine of the best 11 jumps in the world this year, capped by his two 2.40m leaps. He is the first high jumper in history to leap 2.40m or higher in five successive years.

Thiam, the recipient of last year’s Female Rising Star Award after claiming the Olympic heptathlon title, began 2017 by winning the European indoor pentathlon title with a world-leading 4870 points.

Two months later, the 23-year-old climbed to third on the world heptathlon all-time list after winning at the IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting in Gotzis with 7013 points, producing a series that included a 1.98m high jump and a 59.32m javelin throw.

At the World Championships in London, Thiam lived up to expectation in all seven disciplines and earned the title with a score of 6784.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe presented the trophy to Barshim, while International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco presented the trophy to Thiam.

“Tonight is our time to celebrate,” Seb Coe said. “We have recognised the achievements and remarkable careers of some outstanding athletes, coaches and officials. With more than 50 champions, record breakers, ambassadors and coaches here tonight it’s impossible to individually honour everyone – I wish we could.

“We celebrate your amazing contributions to a phenomenal year of athletics. I’m particularly excited by the young generation of talent which so dramatically came of age on the world stage in 2017.

“Athletics looks forward to a strong and exciting future safe in your hands.”
Other awards

MALE RISING STAR
Karsten Warholm

Following an illustrious junior career, during which he spent most of his time focused on the combined events, 2017 was the first season in which Warholm dedicated himself completely to the 400m hurdles.

The Norwegian doubled up at the European Under-23 Championships in the 400m hurdles and 400m, where he won gold and silver respectively. But his biggest achievement came at the IAAF World Championships in London where he became the youngest ever world champion in the event.

FEMALE RISING STAR
Yulimar Rojas

Continuing on from her fine year in 2016, Rojas took her triple jump prowess further to emerge victorious at this year’s IAAF World Championships.

The Olympic silver medallist was one of the favourites for the triple jump title at the World Championships in London but was up against defending champion Caterine Ibarguen. In a dramatic final, Rojas emerged victorious and, at the age of 21, became the youngest ever triple jump gold medallist in World Championships history.

PRESIDENT’S AWARD
Usain Bolt

Widely considered one of the greatest sprinters of all-time, Bolt is a three-time 100m and 200m Olympic champion who collected 11 world titles over an international career that began when he was in his late teens. Bolt, 31, won four world 200m titles, three at 100m, and holds the world record over both distances, 9.58 at 100m and 19.19 at 200m. The Jamaican retired this season after taking 100m bronze at the World Championships in London to end his career as one of the most recognised athletes in the world.

This award recognises and honours great service to athletics.

COACHING ACHIEVEMENT
Anna Botha

The Namibian coach is best known for guiding Wayde van Neikerk to the 2015 and 2017 world 400m titles and the 2016 Olympic gold medal where the South African broke the world record with a sensational 43.03 run.

A former athlete who competed in the sprints and long jump, Botha, better known as Tannie Ans, began her career as a coach in the late 1960s, first by guiding her children and later by identifying and developing regional talent. She has been the head coach at the University of the Free State since 1990.

WOMEN IN ATHLETICS
Cherry Alexander

Alexander has been involved in athletics for more than 30 years, playing key roles in helping deliver major events in the UK.

Alexander served as managing director for the IAAF World Championships London 2017. She currently serves as head of international and televised events at UK Athletics.

This award recognises outstanding achievements and contributions made to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls at all levels of the sport.

ATHLETICS PHOTOGRAPH OF THE YEAR

Paul Sanwell’s image of Australia’s Sally Pearson in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

(IAAF)

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NOMINEES ANNOUNCED FOR WORLD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR 2017

This week marks the opening of the voting process for the 2017 World Athletes of the Year ahead of the IAAF Athletics Awards 2017 in Monaco on Friday 24 November.

The IAAF is pleased to confirm a list of 10 men and 10 women nominees who were selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of the IAAF.

The nominees for 2017 World Athlete of the Year are:

Men
Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT)
Pawel Fajdek (POL)
Mohamed Farah (GBR)
Sam Kendricks (USA)
Elijah Manangoi (KEN)
Luvo Manyonga RSA)
Omar McLeod (JAM)
Christian Taylor (USA)
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA)
Johannes Vetter (GER)

Women
Almaz Ayana (ETH)
Maria Lasitskene (ANA)
Hellen Obiri (KEN)
Sally Pearson (AUS)
Sandra Perkovic (CRO)
Brittney Reese (USA)
Caster Semenya (RSA)
Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE)
Nafissatou Thiam (BEL)
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL)

A three-way voting process will determine the finalists.

The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the IAAF’s social media platforms. Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook and Twitter later this week; a ‘like’ on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter will count as one vote.

The IAAF Council’s vote will count for 50% of the result, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25% of the final result.

Voting closes on 16 October. At the conclusion of the voting process, three men and three women finalists will be announced by the IAAF.

The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live on stage at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2017.

IAAF

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Fredericks’ temporary ban upheld by IAAF tribunal

BERLIN – An athletics disciplinary tribunal upheld on Thursday a ban on former Namibian sprinter and IAAF Council member Frankie Fredericks pending an investigation into potential ethics violations.

Fredericks, a multiple Olympic sprint silver medalist and a rising star among international sports administrators until this year, was temporarily banned in July.

He is being investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) over payments he received from Papa Massata Diack, the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, on the day Rio de Janeiro won the vote to host the 2016 Olympics.

Fredericks has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He admitted having received money from Massata Diack, but said it was payment for legitimate work he had done.

“Mr Fredericks appealed against the order for provisional suspension and his appeal was heard by an enlarged panel of the Disciplinary Tribunal,” the AIU said in a statement.

“Having heard from both parties, the enlarged panel agreed with the AIU’s submissions and it declined to lift the order for provisional suspension.”

Earlier this year Fredericks, an International Olympic Committee member, stepped down as head of the team evaluating bids to host the 2024 Olympics.

He also removed himself from the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) task force investigating doping allegations in Russia, after the corruption allegations involving himself surfaced.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann)