Life is good !
Two hurdlers I am coaching have run the #1 ( Olympic Bronze Medalist, David Oliver – 7.45) and the #3 ( Joel Brown – 7.48 ) fastest times in the world for the 60 meter hurdles. I have just finished a consultation presentation to the top coaches in England for the sprints, hurdles and other events. The event takes place at Eton, yes,…..THAT Eton. An institution that boasts it produced 16 prime ministers of England. I used to work and walk the halls at St Albans  School in Washington, D.C. and had the opportunity to work with, teach/coach, a future Vice President ( Al Gore ) and a U.S. Senator ( Evan Bayh ). St Albans was based upon an English school like Eton and has produced more than its share of leaders in government, industry and service,.. but Eton is still Eton. The presentation had gone over very well and compliments and thanks were shared all around. The British track and field federation is mandated to increase their Olympic medal count just as we were charged with the same task back in 2001. They are keenly aware of the fact that the U.S. has gone from 15 medals ( after drug disqualifications ) at the 2000 Olympics to a high medal count of 25/26 at the last two World Championships and 24/23 at the last two Olympics. As Chair of the High Performance Division, I was charged with creating and get implemented  plans and projects , approved by the Executive Committee of the High Performance Division, that would increase our medal count from the 2000 medal nadir. Knowing my responsibility and involvement in the medal increase, I was asked by the Brits to share with them the things that worked best for the U.S. in achieving the increase in medals. One of the pillars upon which my good feelings rested was the fact and irony that I was now being paid to do for them,…. what I volunteered and had mostly done for free for the U.S. since 2001.
So it was after this rather successful experience that I was made aware of portions of the Audit Panel “Report” being circulated by USA Track and Field.
Dorrell Smith, who had coached his son’s mother to a 2008 Olympic medal in the 400 meter hurdles,  sent me an e-mail complaining and taking issue with the findings and conclusions of the report . His opinion was that it was shallow and self-serving for the interests of Doug Logan and Carl Lewis.
Even after he pointed out that I had come in for a share of criticism and blame for certain failings and shortcomings of the High Performance Division, I still remained resolute that I was not going to allow this utterly predictable outcome to negatively impact me. I was supported and confirmed in this sentiment by a quote from a book I was reading by a British author, Laurence Rees. His book concerns and centers around the outlandish statements and accusations necessary when weak people seek to take control and authority over an organization. The quote that fortified me read as follows:
” I can’t be very outraged by something that is so pointlessly unreasonable.
To say it’s unjust is to give it too much pride. It is a form of ignorance,
isn’t it ?”
That was my approach and response to the “report”. Another friend SKYPED me with some choice words of criticism for the “report”. His first question was, “Do they really think this will fly ? The thing is full of half-truths, outright lies, and damned lies. Why do you think they have to go to such lengths with such a faulty and flawed document ? I thought we won the medal count in Beijing. We got 23 and the Russians got 16 for second place. That’s 30% more than second place.” My response was that over the last two major competitions, the 2007 World Championships, with 212 countries competing, and the 2008 Olympics, with 210 countries competing, we won a total of 6 relay gold medals. No other country won more than one relay gold over the same period. That was 6 times more gold relay medals for the U.S. than any other country won ! Yet Carl Lewis and Mel Rosen are calling for the National Relay Project to be eliminated. My friend demanded, ” Why all the clamor and criticism ?  Again my response came from Laurence Rees:
“Without a crisis to feed on, they were lost.” Prior to this, “…they were
active only at the margins….”
Not satisfied, my friend said, ” Man, you got to do something !” I stated I was really enjoying what I do best, and enjoy most,…coaching. I have a great collection of athletes that really need my full attention. There are 12 of them with 11 having the Olympic “A” standard and several already have Olympic medals. In closing, I made a phophecy and warning based upon the New Testament. Peter stated:
” Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into
disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they
have made up.”
That was supposed to be the final word in this whole pathetic and disengenuous fiasco from me. That was until John Smith got me on the phone today, Wednesday, February 26.
“John, the reason I called was because Karen Locke e-mailed me to pass on the fact that Camelita Jeter looked great in Birmingham, England this weekend. She sees a lot of Torri Edwards in her.”
“Thanks man, that is good to hear. She is making really good progress”
“Just goes to show that those in the know, really know, and those not in the know do not even know they don’t know.”
“Man, you are so right with that ! I am so sick of people who do not know a damned thing trying to tear down what we built up. You need to straighten their asses out !”.
“John, I am happy to be outside for the time being at least.”.
“Look, man it ain’t just about you! We all came together to build this thing up. You got the rest of us involved and we need you to set the record straight.”
“Let me think about it.”.
“You need to get the truth out there. What the hell is there to think about ? “.
“Good question, I’ll get on it tonight.”
Here’s the truth:
The USOC, since the days of Ollan Cassell, and before Craig Masback, wanted to have more programmatic input as to what programs their funding supported. Ollan basically told them where to go and this did not set well with them. So there has been some USOC anti-TAC/USATF sentiment for some time. The USOC had a series of very serious internal situations that pointed to internal dysfuntionality and need for change. This resulted in a chain of CEOs and a restructuring of their board. After it had undergone restructuring of its board, it became an ardent wish of the USOC for the National Governing Bodies ( NGBs ) that manage all the Olympic sports to reorganize and restructure as well. The idea from the USOC staff was that the USOC board model was the best for all the NGBs. This despite the fact that Bill Roe, Stephanie Hightower, John Chaplin and I met personally with Peter Uberroth, then president of the USOC, and he allowed as how there was not certainty that the USOC board model worked best for it, let alone different NGBs. Further, when asked about USOC staff interference in the programmatic activities of NGBs he stated that the USOC should only intercede where there was illegal, illicit, or gross mismanagement. This was very much at odds with what the USOC staff and some USATF leadership wanted to accept. Over the past couple of years, USATF
was under extreme pressure and duress from the USOC staff to reorganize, even threatening de-certification if USATF did not do as the USOC insisted. In 2007, in the only unanimous vote I every saw the USATF board take, it voted to resist the pressure being put on the board by Jim Scheer, Executive Director of USOC. This only intensified the chicanery and back channel work by the USOC staff and certain USATF board members to have their way.
Fast forward to Doug Logan, 2008, who upon being selected CEO of USATF, publicly stated that he did not know anything about track and field, other than the fact he jogged on a regular basis. Keep in mind that the other top candidate for the job was Bill Schmidt, Olympic bronze medalist in the javelin, who as makerting and promotions manager for Gatorade, help turn a drink that the University of Florida refused, into a multi-billion dollar product. When Doug Logan publicly stated that the U.S. should be able to win every medal in any Olympics, Clyde Hart, who coached Michael Johnson to three world records ( 200/400/400X400 ), several Olympic gold medals, and  Jermey Wariner  to two Olympic golds in 2004,  sagely and succinctly stated, ” He has already said he is totally ignorant of the sport and every time he opens his mouth he proves it !”  The new CEO of USATF has a blog entitled “shinsplints”.  Can you image the CEO of major league baseball having a blog entitled  “beanball” ? How about the CEO of football calling his blog ” turftoe” ? What about the CEO of basketball calling his blog “brick” ?
Get the picture ?
So now this guy who has the credibility, respect  and value within the sport of a broken crossbar, has this real need to take control of the sport by the throat . Again quoting Rees, the situation is he: ” …could never flourish in such sunlight……Without a crisis to feed on, they were lost.”. So along comes Carl Lewis as his shill and fig leaf. What is the height of irony and hypocracy is Carl Lewis speaking of proper relay conduct and athlete professionalism. Carl was the single most disruptive relay person in modern history. He had a well documented, divisive and acrimonious confrontation with the relay coach at the 1988 Olympics. In 1996 there was another divisive situation with the relay involving Carl. He had refused to attend relay practice along with the other athletes and it reached a head when the relay athletes voted him out of consideration for the relay team. He had/has such high regard for U.S. Track and Field that he boycotted the national championships that were held on his track at the University of Houston. He is such a knowledgeable person in the sport that two years ago he attempted to recruit athletes to allow him to represent them as their agent. One of the unfortunate people to accept Carl’s offer was Dwight Phillips. Dwight had been the world’s #1 long jumper from 2003-2006. Certainly this was a match made in heaven. Dwight Phillips did not make the U.S. Olympic Team in 2008, after winning the Olympics in 2004.
In order to create the needed credibility and legitimacy, Logan states to the USATF board, and publicly, that he is going to appoint an Audit Panel that will be, his words, “dispassionate” and “objective”. This panel will review USATF, and especially the High Performance Division , due to the “crisis” that was created because the U.S. only won the Olympic medal count by 30% over its nearest and hated rival, Russia, and had twice as many relay golds for 2008 than anyone else, in addition to having 6 times as many relay golds over the past two years. It was obvious to anyone with three brain cells in working order what the outcome was going to be once the “dispassionate” and “objective” panel did its work. First of all the original panel of 7 was disportionately represented by current USOC employees ( 3 ) and a former USOC employee for a USOC total of 4. This at a time when the USOC had demonstrated on a consistent basis that it  had serious issues with the High Performance Division.. Often delaying funding and decisions that negatively impacted athletes being able to train at the USOC Training Center in Chula Vista. Funds for the domestic relay program were ordered drastically cut back to less than $75,000.00 in some years for athlete support. This despite the fact that the National Relay Project involved more than 95 male athletes in 2008 and more than 85 female athletes over the same period. , yet there is a million dollar price tag assigned to this program by some of these “objective” and “dispassionate” participants.
The original Audit Panel was illegally and ill-legitimately constituted on several levels:
1. The Amateur Sports Act, the USOC Charter, and USATF by-laws and
mission statement insist on 20% athlete representation. Neither of the two
“athletes” appointed by Logan meet the USOC standards and guidelines
under the 10 year rule. This should have disqualified the panel and its work
right there. Logan attempted to ex post facto legitimize the panel by
appointing three athletes that do meet the Amateur Sports Act, USOC
Charter, and USATF mission statement and by-laws. This was AFTER the
national convention in December, with most of the surveying and
assessments already having been done. This was especially so with the
National Relay Project.
2. The very same stipulations that apply to athlete representation, also
apply to Diversity. The Amateur Sports Act, the USOC Charter and the
USATF by-laws all insist on Diversity. This is not a discretionary
requirement. It is mandatory in order to legally conduct the affairs of
USATF. Since there was only one female and two blacks represented on the
original panel, given the mandate(s) under these enabling
legislative commands, Diversity requirements were never met ( and still
aren’t ). Again, ex post facto, Logan tried to repair this egregious and fatal
flaw by appointing two more females, one of whom is black. So again, the
work done by the panel is not only flawed, it is fataly flawed.
3. Given the criteria and characteristics Logan presented as required for the
panel, namely “objective” and “dispassionate” it is obvious that several of
the people on the panel were anything but objective and dispassionate. The
closest they ever got was that they fiercely objected to the High
Performance Division and were passionate and prejudiced about doing
So what gives ? What we have is a situation where it is expected that people will be taken in by lies and half-truths. The USOC was overly represented by people with a swimming background ( Doug Ingram/Steve Roush ) with Jay Warwick being the water carrier for his boss Roush. Why swimming ? Because the powers-that-be at the USOC have determined that the swimming model is the best model for USATF. The USOC is very disturbed because track and field athletes scatter after the Olympic Trials, some to cash in on their new Olympic team status at overseas meets. This means that USATF athletes create serious logistical headaches for the USOC travel people who want them all to travel at the same time to the Olympics, just like swimming. Swimming went directly from their trials to their training camp. Track and field athletes had to be in the Beijing time zone 10 days before competi
tion and in the Olympic Village 5 days before their event. Doug Ingram is head of Olympic Games logistics and does an outstanding job at it, however, he is also a swimming guy and would like, as anyone would, to see the USATF athletes travel in a manner easier for his people to accomodate. This will not work. But what no one is sharing out loud is the fact that in 2007 when we got 26 medals in Osaka, in the same time zone, with essentialy the same weather, our athletes came in as they saw fit and turned the place out ! There is a plan being circulated that USATF will appoint a Team Manager, the same as swimming, to basically do what the High Performance Division did prior, but the Team Manager will have far more individual control and authority. Given the diversity of events and skillsets required for each one, where are they going to find such a person,…even if it was a good idea in the first place ?
We have outlined what the USOC’s stake and role is as regards the sham and shallow smoke screen that Logan seems to feel will pass muster with enough people to allow him to assume the kind of control he knows he doesn’t deserve based upon merit and knowledge, but he so sorely needs to keep the wolves from effectively snipping at his heels ( Achilles ? ). So he has gotten in bed with the USOC on one hand and is having Carl Lewis shill for him on the other. Carl, desperate for some sort of presence and hard against it, wants to embrace the very organization that he has studiously avoided all these years. What he does not fully understand as yet is that his role is that of Ernst Rohm and the “Night Of  The Long Knives” is not that far away. All he needs to do is ask Bill Roe. Bill’s reward for manipulating and maneuvering the selection process in favor of Doug Logan was Logan’s successful and calloused demand that Bill give up his VIP credentials in Beijing to Logan.
No one on the Olympic staff was satisfied with the medal count in Beijing. But what is being overlooked and ignored by too many people, who know better, is that the same support system that was in place in Helsinki and Osaka where the U.S. got 25/26 medals, was in place in Beijing. The same coaching and managerial support that existed at our Olympic Trials was in place in Beijing. The medal contenders had their coaches present and available. There were video tapes of all the races that were available to athletes and coaches within an hour of the last event. USATF had two videographers there with the USOC having arranged for us to get the NBC feed is we needed it.. It was the most technically supported U.S. team of all time, and I made my first one in 1962.
The National Relay Project was established to separate out the relays from the stepchild category and treat them as their own individual event(s).. That means they were given the same treatment and status as all the other events. In 2004 we had two medals in the men’s pole vault. This time around we got none, despite having the #1 vaulter in the world in the event. In 2004 we had a medal in the men’s highjump, two in the men’s long jump, and one in each of the marathons. In 2008 we got no medals in any of these events. But no one is demanding that these events be unfunded and programs specific to them be discontinued. Why is that ? The reason is that “stuff happens” and one Olympics does not tell the whole story,…. good or bad. In 2007 the U.S. won all four World Championships relay medals against some extreme odds. Jamaica in the 4 x 100, for example, essentially had the same team they had in 2008, with Bolt being a mere mortal then. The U.S. had only one athlete ( Tyson Gay ) from the men’s trails 100 who finished in the top 5 ( that puts to rest Mel Rosen’s Phi Beta Kappa idea that the relay team should be the first 4 that finish the 100 meters ). We still put together a team that won. The same system and methodology that allowed that team to win, was the same as the one employed in Beijing. Bottom line, the “objective” and “dispassionate” panelists with agendas can not get the things done they would like to get done without  there seeming to be a “crisis”. So a “crisis” it is at all cost,…with the first victim being the truth.
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