Harting has lost faith in toothless tiger WADA

In the wake of the revelations of widespread doping in Russia in a German TV documentary (read a transcript here), World and Olympic champion Robert Harting writes in an article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he sees the cautious reaction by the IAAF to the documentary as an affront to all clean athletes and the actions by WADA as a complete failure of the world anti-doping body.

The outspoken discus thrower says he has observed drastic changes in other athletes which suggest these athletes are using prohibited substances. But he does not want to name anyone out of fear that he could himself become the victim of what he calls a ‘doping attack.’ Harting points out that if it is so easy to cover up a doping case, it is just as easy to create one out of nothing. He has no proof that this has happened before, but sees it as a real threat, and he knows that the anti-doping system would not able to protect falsely accused innocent athletes.

Harting criticises the current anti-doping system as too complex and says elite athletes have no choice but to submit to this system, renounce their basic human rights to privacy, and put up with the blanket accusation of being guilty unless they prove themselves innocent. Harting is happy to endure these intrusions of the current anti-doping regime but laments the apparent fact that controls don’t even happen in other countries. Harting criticises the protectionist attitude of the IAAF towards the million-dollar sprint heroes,  where even the president himself has practically guaranteed that the best is clean. This, he says, can only be interpreted as meaning that “an athlete of such extraordinary significance must never be tested positive.”

Harting proposes the establishment of an international anti-doping fund as well as a new international control pools. He envisages this as follows: For instance, China, France, Brasil, Canada und Ukraine would belong to a testing pool. Control officers from China could use diplomatic passports to enter France to carry out tests there whilst French control officers would test Brazilian athletes. The Brazilians would test in Canada, etc. Every two years the testing pools would be randomly re-allocated. Also, sports federations would not be allowed to test their own athletes. Doping laboratories are not to be funded by countries’ governments. Countries which don’t participate to this new anti-doping regime should simply be banned.

Also, in a recent interview with Frankfurther Allgemeine Zeitung, the protagonist of the German TV documentary, Yuliya Stepanova, said that neither the IAAF nor WADA, which are supposedly investigating the allegations made in the program, have so far contacted her to supply additional information and material. She described WADA as a toothless tiger.

I think Robert Harting is on to something. It is increasingly obvious that the current system just isn’t working.


How Russia (but surely not only Russia!) makes champions

I was flabbergasted after watching the sobering documentary by German investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt on the goings-on in the Russian sport system – widespread doping practices by athletes, coaches and physicians – condoned, supported and organised even, by the Russian anti-doping agency and the government itself.

My unofficial translation of the program has been posted by Athletics Illustrated here.

Not that I was particularly surprised by what I saw, as I always thought that no matter how good testing methods are, there are always human factors at play that can undermine all scientific methods to catch those who resort to using performance enhancing drugs, and I am sure this doesn’t just happen in Russia.

So how can we not feel despair about the state of high performance sport?  Has much changed at all since the 1970s and 1980s? As long as anti-doping scientist are always a step behind, the political and economical stakes are so high, and corruption is part of the equation  …  Is there any hope at all for sport? How will all of this play out over the coming decades, with gene doping already on the horizon? In the future, will sport be more like a circus and elite athletes be more like gladiators? How will the nature of sport change?

At the moment though, it seems to me we’re all losers at some level in this sordid game of good versus evil. But it will be interesting to see whether on the basis of the evidence presented in this documentary (and much more is quite likely to come to light), the national and international sporting bodies and governments concerned will actually clean up their act, whether there will ever be consequences for those acting illegally or improperly, or whether it will all somehow be swept under the already bulging carpet, because it is all just too difficult, too commercially and politically damaging, and, not least, too dangerous.

What did take me by surprise in this documentary though was that both Vasilyi Stepanov and Yuliya Stepanova still have such an obvious passion for sport.

NSW Allschools wrap

My athletes performed very well at this year’s NSW Allschools, with overall four gold medals and one bronze. Here are the top results:

Alec Diamond took out the 17 years’ shot put with 16.56m (5kg) as well as the discus with 50.11m (1.5kg).

Matt McVey came 7th in the 14 years’ shot put (4kg) with a PB of 13.89m, and then proceeded to win both the javelin (48.55m, 700g) and the discus (PB of 53.58m, 1kg).

Alex Murdocca fouled what would have been a winning throw and finished in 7th in the 13 years’ discus with 41.20m (1kg). A few hours later he clinched the bronze medal in the shot put (3kg) with 14.03m.

Well done, boys!

David Storl applauds out-of-stadium concept

The German Athletics Federation (DLV) has decided to conduct the shot put competition at this year’s German Championships in the town centre of host city Ulm (population 125,000), and shot put ace David Storl likes the idea – a lot.

“Shot putters always rate second inside the stadium. Often you only get to see jumpers and runners on TV,” he said. He definitely prefers to compete outside the stadium.

The shot put competitions will be held on the Münsterplatz in Ulm with free entry for 2,000 spectators, the day before the official start of the German Championships. Even the city’s mayor is looking forward to showcasing the event in the town centre, saying the atmosphere will be great and be the best form of advertising for the championships. Storl believes this arrangement will push the athletes to greater performances.

Although holding a championship field event outside the stadium is a first for German Championships, the concept is not new. The 2004 Olympic shot put competitions were held in Olympia rather than Athens, and for the past few years the Weltklasse Meeting in Zürich has held a shot put competition inside Zürich’s main station the night before the big meet, giving the big guys and girls exposure they would never get inside the arena.

Apart from winning the German title at the end of July Storl aims to win at the Team European Championships in June and claim gold at the European Championships in Zürich in August. He has also declared the 22m mark as another one of his goals. Storl is currently training in Albufeira (Portugal).

This article is based on the article David Storl überzeugt von neuem DM-Konzept published on leichtathletik.de (18.3.2014).


Little A State Championships wrap

At the Little Athletics State Championships my athletes did fabulously well. The top performances were:

Alex Murdocca (pictured below) won the U12 discus with 51.18m, a PB by several metres and  dangerously close to the championship record. The next day he also took out the shot put with a big new PB of 14.09m.

Matthew McVey won the U14 javelin with a fantastic 54.37m. He claimed the silver medal in the discus with a 2m PB of 52.67m, and he also did very well finishing 7th in the shot put with 14.44m.

Jack McFadden claimed the bronze medal in the U12 shot put with a very good 10.46m, and he finished 4th in the discus with a solid 36.30m

Callum and Paige Brosnan also produced PBs at the final competition of the season. Callum came 12th  in the U15 discus with 40.73m, whilst Page finished also in 12th in the U12 discus with 27.55m.

Georgia Duncan came 5th in the U12 shot put with 11.36m and she finished in 11th in the discus with 27.67m.

In the U10 Hollie Pengilley came very close to her PB with a best throw of 20.87m.

Well done everyone!


Michael Taylor kicks off his career In the open category with 5th place at NSW State Champs

In his very first shot put competition with the 7.26k implement, 19 year-old Michael Taylor finished in fifth place at the NSW Championships last night with an excellent distance of 13.84m. He has adjusted well to the heavier implement after only a few training sessions, thanks to his solid technique and a marked increase in his strength levels. No doubt by next year, Michael will be a force to be reckoned with. Emanuele Fuamatu won the competition with 18.38m ahead of Stuart Gyngell (15.73), Liam Speers (14.63m) and decathlete Jake Stein (14.23m).

Wrap of New South Wales Junior Championships 2014

What a successful weekend overal for all my athletes at Olympic Park last wekeend.

Michael Taylor won gold in the men’s U20 discus with 45.31m, and he came second in the shot put with 15.32m.

Alec Diamond came second in the U18 discus with 48.93m, and he picked up another silver medal in the shot put with 14.11m.

Sally Shokry won the U14 discus event (1kg) with 32.90m, and she came fifth in the U14 shot put (3kg) with 9.39m. Considering she was the young in her field and still throws the 750g and 2kg implements these are outstanding results.

Matthew McVey finished 4th in the U16 javelin with a very good 51.11m. He also finished 5th in the discus, breaking the 50m barrier for the first time, and doing it twice, with 50.09m being his best throw.

Alex Murdocca delivered an incredible result. Having only just turned 12 he took out the gold medal in the discus with 43.35m, and he also achieved a great result in the shot, finishing 6th with 11.85m.

Well done everyone!

The development of shot putter Christina Schwanitz

Over the last few years Christina Schwanitz has slowly but surely evolved into a world class shot putter. Last year she won two medals at international championships. In an article which recently appeared in the German coaching journal Leichtathletiktraining (published by Philippka Sportverlag), coach Sven Lang (who also coaches David Storl),  provided a fascinating insight into  Schwanitz’s development. Read my summary of the article, The development of shot putter Christina Schwanitz (PDF, 50Kb).

Christina Schwanitz

Christina Schwanitz, Source: Zimbio 



Fascinating feature on shot putter David Storl

In 2012 Schmidt Media posted “Vision Gold – Kugelstoßen”, a fascinating portrait on Germany’s latest shot put sensation. The film provides interesting insights into David Storl’s training and development as a thrower as he prepares for the 2012 Olympic Games. Below is my edited summary in English for those who would like to know what is being said in the video.

Vision Gold Kugelstossen (summary)

Great results at 2013 national schools championships

Some great results of my athletes at the recently held national school championships:

Sally Shokry qualified for the Primary School Sports Association nationals held in Brisbane, and returned with the silver medal in the 11 year-old girl’s discus with a personal best of 39.07m (750g). She also set a new PB in the shot put, where she finished in 6th place with 11.78m (2kg).

Further up north, at the Allschool National Championships in warm and sunny Townsville, Alec Diamond came close to his personal best and with his third round effort of 50.31m (1.5k) clinched a bronze medal in the U18 discus.

Matt McVey also had a great trip to Queensland. He was only a hand width behind third in the U14 boys discus with 46.13m (1k), and a day later went on to win the silver medal in the javelin with 49.50m (600g) on his last attempt.