By Dennis Barker
The story and focus to come out of any track & field competition should be on the performances of the athletes. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the US indoor championships last weekend. There were so many great performances that have received little to no attention due to the highly publicized controversies that occurred, and are still ongoing. This isn’t good for the athletes, the governing body, or the sport itself.
The controversy that involved the women’s 3K was just one of several incidents that created an uncomfortable meet environment, but became a catalyst for athletes, coaches, and fans to question the credibility and independence of USATF. Those questions still need to be addressed and answered by our governing board.
This should be done now so that all doubts about USATF’s desire and ability to provide fair, unbiased, and competent competition for the athletes is restored in advance of the outdoor championships. Transparency applies to the process as well as the conclusions. Max Siegel should announce what issues will be addressed, how they will be addressed, and who will be involved. Stepping up proactively and transparently would be a good first step in attempting to overcome the disillusionment and disappointment athletes and fans are currently feeling with USATF.
The Track & Field Athletes Association has asked to be involved in this process. USATF should readily accept this offer. USATF is, after all, ostensibly there for the athletes. TFAA takes its role as athlete’s advocate seriously and would provide credibility to the process.
The ball is in USATF’s court. I, and I’m sure many track & field athletes, coaches and fans, hope that our governing board understands the importance of this and acts. And it should be sooner rather than later. No one who loves the sport wants to be talking about anything but great performances after the next championship meet.