Many doping cheats banned from 2020 Olympics free to compete in 2021 Games

Hundreds of doping cheats ineligible for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be able to compete in next year’s rescheduled Games as they will have served their bans.

The World Anti Doping Agency confirmed yesterday that suspensions handed out were for “specific lengths of time” rather than particular events.

A Wada spokesman told Mirror Sport: “Periods of ineligibility imposed under the World Anti-Doping Code are for specific lengths of time and include all competitions which take place during that period.

“There is no provision in the Code for Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) to cherry-pick periods of time in which the athlete would have more or fewer events to compete in.

“While an athlete cannot choose when he or she would like to be ineligible, an ADO cannot either.”

According to the website the bans of 214 athletes expire before May next year.

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Team GB stars set to be stood down from training as Olympic postponement nears

Olympic chiefs have taken the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games, a senior figure claimed last night.

Twenty four hours after Games boss Thomas Bach said the International Olympic Committee would give itself four weeks to make the call, Dick Pound revealed their true thinking.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” the veteran IOC member told USA Today .

“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Pound’s revelation came hours after World Athletics indicated it was prepared to shift next year’s world championships in Oregon to allow the Olympics to be rearranged for July 2021.

It also followed Dina Asher-Smith branding the IOC’s decision to delay a final decision by another month as “irresponsible”.

A conference call between UK Sport, the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association with the bosses of all participating sports will take place today.

Prior to Pound’s intervention BOA chair Hugh Robertson had said he expected Team GB to “shortly” follow Canada and Australia in announcing they will not compete given the escalating and increasingly deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s summit meeting is likely to provide even greater clarity for the home athletes by standing them down from training with immediate effect.

For while the BOA are understood to be happy for the IOC to take their time over rescheduling, sympathetic to how complex a task it is.

What they are no longer prepared to allow is for athletes to put the health of themselves, their coaches and loved ones at risk by trying to train at a time of national emergency.

Robertson said: “There is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this. We can’t see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted at the moment.

“Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they (athletes) could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.”

A survey carried out by the Athletics Association, a body launched last year to give elite track and field athletes greater say in the future of the sport, showed overwhelming support for an immediate postponement.

“We’re imploring the IOC to announce the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics much sooner than in four weeks’ time,” they said in a statement.

“Whilst we appreciate being told about the new timeframe, we feel it’s unfair to ask athletes to continue to live and train in this limbo.”

Lawrence Waterman, the head of health and safety at the London 2012 Olympics, added: “It is simply not safe to put the Games on during a global pandemic.

“People’s safety and health should come before the costs of delaying contracts.”

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Coronavirus: USA Track and Field call for Olympics delay

USA Track and Field, athletics’ US governing body, has called for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo to be delayed because of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

The federation has asked the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to advocate to the International Olympic Committee for the postponement of the Games.

It follows a request from USA Swimming for it to be delayed by 12 months.

The Olympics are scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August.

USA Track and Field chief executive Max Siegel wrote in a letter to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee: “We certainly understand the ramifications of this request, and the realities of trying to coordinate the logistics of a postponed Olympic Games around the schedules of other athletes, sport federations, key stakeholders etc.

“But the alternative of moving forward in light of the current global situation would not be in the best interest of our athletes (as difficult as that decision might be).”

  • Tokyo 2020 date ‘now has to be addressed’ – UK Athletics chair

There are a growing number of calls for the Games not to take place this summer.

UK Athletics chairman Nic Coward recently suggested that the Olympics should be postponed, while Brazil, Norway and Slovenia’s Olympic committees have also urged the IOC to take action and put it back to next year.

‘Athletes may risk their lives continuing to train’

Four-time Olympic champion and BBC Sport pundit Michael Johnson fears athletes could “risk their lives” trying to train for the Games and called for clarity on the IOC’s decision-making process.

“IOC should communicate the window for deciding on the ’20 Olympics,” tweeted the former US sprinter. “Athletes must keep training but for many there’s nowhere to train.

“They may risk their lives and others trying to continue training. Answer isn’t just cancel ASAP. But communicate the process to the athletes.”

On Friday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach told the New York Times “different scenarios” for Tokyo 2020 are now being considered for the first time.

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Parkruns cancelled across UK over coronavirus

Parkrun have cancelled all events in the UK until at least the end of March due to coronavirus.

Despite most sporting events cancelled around the world, recreational runners continued to show strong support for the free, weekly, timed runs last weekend.

But with events across 22 countries, the organisers have now confirmed Parkruns are suspended in the UK and every other territory until at least the end of March.

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A statement read: “Following government advice and public health guidelines, we are suspending events in Eswatini, Namibia, Russia, South Africa, and the UK from this weekend until at least the end of March.

“With this announcement Parkrun is now closed in every territory around the world until further notice.”

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A total of 139,873 runners passed through the end-of-run scanners at 678 Parkrun events on Saturday.

That was a decrease of 32,654 on the 172,527 of the previous week but higher than three of the five weekly totals from February, when bad weather hit attendance. Indeed the figure recorded for 15 February, as Storm Dennis battered Britain, was 119,102.

Indeed, the figure from Saturday also compares favourably to the equivalent weekend last year, when 118,890 ran on 16 March, 2019.

The most attended Parkruns on Saturday were Bushy Park in London, the site of the first Parkrun, (1,148), Southampton (878), Poole (786) and Heaton Park, which is one of a number in the Manchester area, (693).

Parkruns have now been cancelled in every country until at least the end of March:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Eswatini
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • UK
  • USA

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Stawell Gift abandoned, could be run later this year

The 2020 Stawell Gift has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, though the race could potentially be rescheduled for later in the year.

Just weeks after being given a financial bailout by the Victorian government to allow it to continue this year, the historic footrace has been forced to cancel.

The Stawell Gift has been abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.Credit:AAP

The Victorian government's state of emergency has meant that the race, normally held over the Easter weekend culminating in the gift on Easter Monday, has had to be abandoned.

All non-essential mass gatherings of 500 or more people in Victoria are currently banned.

There is potential for the race to be rescheduled to a date later in the year.

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Joe Marler: England prop banned for 10 weeks for genital grab

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England prop Joe Marler has been given a 10-week ban for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals during Saturday’s Six Nations win over Wales.

Centre Manu Tuilagi has been banned for four weeks for his red card late on in the game at Twickenham.

Lock Courtney Lawes, who was cited for a dangerous tackle, has escaped punishment.

The decisions were made by an independent citing commissioner at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin.

The shortest ban under World Rugby rules for “grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals” is 12 weeks, though the commission reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors, including good character and remorse.

However, they also increased the ban by one week after taking into account Marler’s recent disciplinary record.

Tuilagi was shown a red card for a last-ditch tackle on George North in the 75th minute of England’s 33-30 victory.

The disciplinary panel found the offence was worthy of a six-week ban, reduced by two weeks after taking into account mitigating factors.

The panel also ruled that Lawes’ tackle on Jones during the first half at Twickenham was not worthy of a suspension.

England lead the table on points difference from France, who failed in their Grand Slam bid with defeat by Scotland on Sunday.

Wales’ match against Scotland is the only match scheduled to go ahead this weekend after the Italy v England and France v Ireland fixtures were postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Organisers say no immediate decision will be made regarding rescheduling while the coronavirus situation is ongoing.

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  • Coronavirus sport timeline

‘No malice’ in Marler incident

England and Harlequins team-mate Danny Care says Marler was not being malicious and the incident should be seen as a “bit of banter”.

“If you know Joe and you’ve played with him or spent a lot of time with him, you know he hasn’t done it in a malicious way,” Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“You know he hasn’t gone out there to annoy anyone or anger anyone or disrespect anyone. He’s done it in Joe’s way of being Joe.

“Alun Wyn Jones is a team-mate of his from the Lions – I’m pretty sure they’re mates. The scuffle has broken out, Joe’s tried to make light of it and do what he’s done on Alun Wyn Jones.

“When I saw it, I just thought it was two lads messing around who were good mates but I can completely understand the massively split reaction.

“Out of the context of sport and as a bit of banter it obviously isn’t funny. You put that in any other place of work and there’s going to be some serious repercussions from it.

“I think anyone involved in rugby, things like that are seen as a joke. It’s seen as a bit of banter. I don’t see an awful lot wrong with it.”

Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard says it received a disproportionate amount of media attention compared to other incidents which he believes are more serious, including France’s Mohammed Haouas’ red card for throwing a punch at Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie at Murrayfield on Sunday.

“The furore over this incident doesn’t seem to be mirrored in the same amount of media coverage and people talking about the French kid (Haouas) that could have broken someone’s jaw with a punch,” Gustard said.

“Or a vicious tackle with no arms. Or whatever. That’s the frustration for me because the safety of players is paramount.”

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Paris Marathon postponed due to coronavirus with London Marathon organisers monitoring situation

The 2020 Paris Marathon has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The iconic race was set to take place on 5 April but will now be pushed back to 18 October.

“In order to avoid a late cancellation that would penalise the participants, we have, in agreement with the Paris mayor’s office, decided to postpone the Paris marathon to Oct. 18,” Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) said in a statement.

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About 423 coronavirus cases have been reported and seven people have died in France, the European country second most affected by coronavirus after Italy.

The move comes after the Paris half marathon was cancelled last weekend at short notice the day before the race on the Sunday.

That decision to postpone the full 26.2 mile race leaves an estimated 65,000 runners from around 150 countries now frustrated and forced to reschedule their training for the autumn date.

The iconic route sees runners take in the Champs- Elyseés to the Bois de Vincennes before heading back through the city via the banks of the Seine.

The cancellation of the Paris Marathon follows decisions to make the Tokyo Marathon for elite runners only.

While the Rome Marathon, set for 29 March, has also been cancelled.

A statement from organisers read: “This is the message that we would never have wished to write but sadly, as a consequence of the ongoing health emergency and according to what is laid down in the cabinet decree of March 4, 2020, the #ACEARunRomeTheMarathon on March 29 has been cancelled.”

Organisers of the London Marathon are “monitoring the situation” with Hugh Brasher stating: ”The Government’s current advice is that all mass events should still go ahead. There are many mass events scheduled in the UK before us and we are working closely with the DCMS (the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and other mass event organisers to coordinate and agree appropriate advice to the public.”

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Mo Farah explains why he changed story told to US anti-doping agency on taking L-carnitine

Sir Mo Farah has explained how he came to change his account when questioned in 2015 about taking supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon.

A BBC Panorama documentary aired last Monday revealed that Farah was interviewed by investigators from the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) in 2015 as part of its probe into his former coach Alberto Salazar and asked whether he had been given L-carnitine before the previous year’s London Marathon.

Farah was tested six days after that race and the BBC reported that, despite listing a number of other products and medicines, he failed to record L-carnitine on his doping control form.

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In transcripts obtained by the BBC, Farah denies having been given the injection in the initial 2015 interview with Usada.

Panorama reported he then met with UK Athletics’ head of distance running Barry Fudge immediately after the interview and returned to the interview room as the investigators were preparing to leave. At this point, Farah, who won 5,000 metres and 10,000m golds at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, told them he had been given the injection.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Farah explains: “I was questioned for five hours. I said one thing and then other things got said and now it’s made out like I’ve done wrong, but if you know how it happened then it’s easier to understand.

“When I came out I said to Barry, ‘Hey mate, they kept asking me about this supplement. What’s that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s this, you did take it’, so I went straight back in and told them. I forgot, but as soon as I was told I ran back in. If I was a liar, why would I go straight back in? I said, ‘Look, I genuinely forgot, I didn’t know that. Now I do’.”

Farah explained when he was questioned by investigators he thought he had only been given magnesium injections.

“I was 100 per cent convinced I hadn’t taken it (L-carnitine),” Farah said. “In my mind I hadn’t taken anything else apart from magnesium. I put magnesium on the doping control form. I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done nothing wrong.

“I love representing my country, making my country proud and doing what I do best because it is a gift and that’s why I do it with a smile. But it’s not fair what comes with it. It’s not fair on my kids and my family. It’s just not right. It’s depressing. Mentally and physically it’s had an effect on me.”

Excerpts from a legal letter from Farah’s lawyers to the BBC read: “Mr Farah understood the question one way and as soon as he left the room he asked Mr Fudge and immediately returned… to clarify and it is plain the investigators were comfortable with this explanation.

“It is not against (World Anti-Doping Agency) rules to take L-carnitine as a supplement within the right quantities. Mr Farah… is one of the most tested athletes in the UK, if not the world, and has been required to fill in numerous doping forms. He is a human being and not a robot. That is relevant… if in fact something was missed from the form. Interviews are not memory tests.”

Farah finished eighth in the 2014 London Marathon and the fact he had been given L-carnitine was first reported by the Sunday Times three years later.

L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that some studies suggest could boost athletic performance if it is injected directly into the bloodstream. It is not a prohibited substance under Wada rules. Injections and infusions of it were permitted within Wada rules in 2014 provided the volume was below 50 millilitres every six hours. The permitted volume is now 100ml every 12 hours.

Salazar, Farah’s former coach at the Nike Oregon Project, was handed a four-year ban by Usada in October last year for doping violations, though he has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Farah, who ended his relationship with the American in 2017, has never failed a drugs test and is not accused of any wrongdoing.


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The needle and the damage done

Three times he said no. For five hours they quizzed him, and three times they directly put to Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah that he had been injected with L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon.

Repeatedly the US Anti-Doping officials said to the British distance-running champion that he had taken L-carnitine and that his coach Alberto Salazar had recommended the injections.

Mo Farah wins the men’s 5000mat the London Olympic Games.Credit:The Age

Nope. No way, Farah said.

"If someone said that you were taking L-carnitine injections, are they not telling the truth?" they asked.

Farah was definitive. "Definitely not telling the truth, 100 per cent. I've never taken L-carnitine injections at all."

"Are you sure that Alberto Salazar hasn't recommended that you take L-carnitine injections?"

"No, I've never taken L-carnitine injections."

And finally once more: "You're absolutely sure that you didn't have a doctor put a butterfly needle … into your arm … and inject L-carnitine a few days before the London Marathon?"

"No. No chance."

The interview ends and Farah leaves the room. The investigators are packing up when Farah comes rushing back in again. He had spoken with UK Athletics' head of distance running Barry Fudge outside the room and he wanted to quickly clarify something with the investigators.

"So I just wanted to come clear, sorry guys, and I did take it at the time and I thought I didn't …" Farah said.

"So you received L-carnitine … before the London Marathon?" they ask.

"Yeah," Farah said. "There was a lot of talk before … and Alberto's always thinking about 'What's the best thing?' What's the best thing?'"

Surprised by the change in story, the USADA investigator says: "… you're telling us all about that now but you didn't remember any of that when I … kept asking you about this?"

"It all comes back for me, but at the time I didn't remember." Farah explained.

This extraordinary exchange emerged this week in a BBC Panorama program that investigated the banned coach Alberto Salazar and his biggest athlete, Farah, who won the 5000-metre and 10,000m golds at both the London and Rio Olympics. The program unearthed the transcripts of the interviews and aired them.

Farah has always denied doping, and still does, but these latest revelations continue to raise suspicion.

L-carnitine is not a banned drug when taking in limited quantities of less than 50ml every six hours.

Farah's belated admission to investigators was that he took the drug before the 2014 London Marathon in small legal doses of only 13.5ml. But there were no records.

"When athletes are drug-tested they are required to list all medications and supplements they have taken within the past seven days. Farah was tested six days after the injection – 17 April 2014. Despite listing a number of other products and medicines, he failed to record L-carnitine on his doping control form,” the BBC program reported.

Mo Farah has been in the spotlight, along with banned coach Alberto Salazar. Credit:AP

Panorama revealed that at the time of these injections the heads of UK Athletics were involved in the discussions over him having the injections of L-carnitine and despite misgivings over the spirit of the law and the doctor's concern over the possible side effects on the athlete, especially being so close to racing, both Salazar and Farah were intent on proceeding.

The officials agreed he should take the supplements but then confronted a problem of sourcing the concentrated dose of L-carnitine they needed. Salazar stepped in and helped source it in Switzerland where Fudge was dispatched to collect it and bring it back to England. Fudge never admitted this when asked about it later on.

Emails that Panorama obtained from the time include an admission from Fudge that "whilst this process is completely within the WADA code there is a philosophical argument about whether this is within the 'spirit of the sport …'"

The idea of knowingly breaching the spirit but not the letter of the law was defiantly taken up by Farah’s lawyer to Panorama.

"It is not against [WADA rules] rules to take [L-carnitine] as a supplement within the right quantities. The fact some people might hold views as to whether this is within the 'spirit' of the sport is irrelevant.

"Mr Farah … is one of the most tested athletes in the UK, if not the world, and has been required to fill in numerous doping forms. He is a human being and not robot.

"Interviews are not memory tests. Mr Farah understood the question one way and as soon as he left the room he asked Mr Fudge and immediately returned … to clarify and it is plain the investigators were comfortable with this explanation."

Farah quit the track to concentrate on running marathons. Even injections could not help him replicate the success he had on the track in marathons.

Last year he decided to return to the track and chase a third successive Olympic 10,000m gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Yet a cloud of suspicion remains over Farah and Salazar from the needle and the damage done.

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Eleanor Patterson breaks national high jump record

Australian high jumper Eleanor Patterson has broken the 31-year-old Australian women's high jump record.

Patterson, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, cleared 1.99m at an athletics meet in New Zealand on Friday afternoon.

The previous record of 1.98m was set in 1989 by Vanessa Ward then equalled in 1994 by Alison Inverarity.

Eleanor Patterson clears the bar at the Sydney Track Classic earlier this month.Credit:AAP

In what could prove excellent, or cruelly unjust timing, Patterson has hit the new peak just months out from the Tokyo Olympics. The cruelty of unjust timing could be if the Olympics are forced to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Should the Olympics however go ahead Patterson's timing is impeccable and caps a stunning resurgence from the athlete who won gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and went on to compete at the Rio Olympics.

She struggled to sustain her best form and suffered a form slump. Despondent with the drop off  Patterson was close to giving the sport away two years ago.

She stubbornly resisted Athletics Australia's attempts to move her onto funding programs and influence her coaching program as she remained living at home in Victoria's South Gippsland, where she had lived and trained when she enjoyed her successes in the sport.

Patterson moved to Sydney to be coached by Alex Stewart. She has responded to the move with a  return to her best in recent months and then Friday's stunning performance.

Patterson had twice jumped 1.96m in the Australian domestic season, being pushed by fellow Australian and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nicola McDermott who has jumped 1.96 and 1.94 in Australia.

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