Beat the Cheat

Review of the week: 17 – 23 August 2015

100 m final moment at 2015 World Championships in Athletics Beijing

A triumph of good over evil is how Usain Bolt’s narrow defeat of Justin Gatlin has been portrayed in many sources. Following recent damaing revelations, it would have done further harm to the sport had Gatlin, a two-time convicted doper, claimed the victory.

But Bolt was right to say in the build-up to the race that he cannot save athletics on his own. His win has opened up a period of grace in which the IAAF, and its newly elected president, Sebastian Coe, have to act to prevent a similar situation from arising again.

It is a common practice to try to identify countries which have a problem with doping but this is fraught with danger. There are places where testing is poorly administered and delight is sometimes taken in pointing out the holes in system. But doping is also rife in more established nations, a fact which has never been clearer than in this final.

There were no less than three Americans in the race who have served bans, Gatlin, Gay and Rodgers (above with Bolt). The United States clearly needs to address the issue too.

Having said that, let us also take a moment to bask in the glow of Bolt’s victory, not only for its symbolic importance but also because he is surely now the greatest sprinter ever.

Hessischen Ministerpräsidenten Jeroen Dubbeldam auf Utasha 6 mk

It was another rough week for the hosts at the European Equestrian Championships in Aachen, and another good one for the Netherlands, for whom #OrangeIsTheNewGold.

The Dutch added the team show jumping title to the team dressage event they won last week, while Jeroen Dubbeldam (above) claimed individual gold. The Netherlands now seem to have overtaken Germany as the country to beat in the equestrian events in Rio.

Hungary continued its long tradition in canoe sprint by accumulating the largest haul of medals at the World Championships. The women’s K2 500m was won by Danuta Kozak, for whom it was her 11th gold medal, and Gabriella Szabo, for whom it was her 9th gold.

At the European Modern Pentathlon Championships, Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania, the Olympic champion, took the honours  and is likely to enter 2016 as the favourite to retain her crown. Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe of Ireland was a more surprising male victor.

Amateur boxing championships took place last week on two different continents. The hosts led the way at the African event in Morocco, taking five of the ten titles on offer.

The equivalent tournament in the Americas was held in Venezuela but it was Cuba who dominated. It had a boxer in every final and took home a gold medal from seven of them.

The decline of American boxing continued as only a single boxer from the United States qualified for the World Championships in October. As well as its laxity towards Gatlin and others, this is something else for the country’s sporting administrators to ponder.

Next week: The rest of the World Athletics Championships, plus judo and blind football

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