Emails Of Month: April Fools / David Kutania Update, Criticism of our NOP Coverage, LetsRun.com Japan, And Horses Riding to Death

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by LetsRun.com
June 1, 2017

As our message boards have demonstrated, our visitors are full of intelligent, insightful, and sometimes inane comments. But not everyone wants to post on a forum, so we have decided to share with you some of our best emails. Some of them will be intelligent, some of them will be insightful, and who knows, some might be inane.

Since this written on the last day of May, we’ll call installment #1, Emails of the Month – May.

Got something you want to email us about? Send it to letsrun@letsrun.com or email us directly here.

Email #1: April Fools Lives On and On (And a David Kutania Update)

On Sat, May 6, 2017 at 11:04 PM, ****** ** <******@****.***> wrote:

Have you guys found any more information about David Kutania?, is he still beating Kipchoge in training? Please write more articles about him 

This email is a classic. First, check the date of the email. May 6th. What happened May 6th? Eliud Kipchoge tested the human limits of what was possible in the marathon/Nike put on its multimillion-dollar marketing Breaking2 extravaganza.

So no doubt our esteemed emailer started looking for Eliud Kipchoge marathon training information and what did he stumble upon? Our April Fools’ prank with Kipchoge where Kipchoge told all of you there was this guy in Kenya named David Kutania (Kutania means “joking” in Swahili) who kicked Kipchoge’s butt in training all the time. It sounded great, but it was part of a LetsRun.com April Fools’ prank. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen the video before.

You can read all about Kutania here. We love fooling people with our April Fools’ pages, but maybe we should start putting a disclaimer on our articles after April 1st in big red letters, APRIL FOOLS. But our emailer shouldn’t feel too bad — we’ve had other duped people threaten to sue us for their confusion.

As for David Kutania, we know who he is now. Long story short, we put together this prank at the last second and did not take down Kutania’s full name when we left Kenya. Thankfully, Kenyan-American runner Shadrack Biwott, who is now with the Hansons-Brooks team, used to train with Kutania and gave us the lowdown. Kutania’s real name is Anthony Maritim. 

And Anthony Maritim is a champion. Look at his lifetime marathon record according to All-Athletics.com.

DateCompetitionPlaceTime
September 14 2014Köln Marathon12:10:26
April 19 2015Linz Donau Marathon12:09:39
February 7 2016Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon22:11:17
April 9 2017Linz Marathon12:09:11

Update: Tilastopja shows Maritim was also 5th in the Hefei Marathon in 2:13:17 in 2016.

Biwott sent us this photo of himself, Wanjiru, and Maritim training in 2010

Biwott sent us this photo of himself, Wanjiru, and Maritim training in 2010

The only guy we can think of with a better winning record is Eliud Kipchoge himself 😉 Also it’s clear the LetsRun.com jinx does not exist in Kenya because Maritim won the Linz Marathon this year after our April Fools’ story hit the wires.

The other cool thing that we totally did not know or had forgotten was that Shadrack Biwott used to train with Sammy Wanjiru, who, like Eliud Kipchoge, was once the world’s greatest marathoner. Biwott was the guy who informed us Wanjiru had died, but we forgot he used to train with Wanjiru. The third training partner? Anthony Maritim, aka David Kutania. The running world is a pretty small place. Maritim and Biwott trained with Wanjiru prior to the epic 2010 Chicago Marathon, which sadly was the last race Wanjiru would win before his untimely death.

Email #2: Criticism of Our USADA/NOP Coverage

LetsRun Staff,

I’m writing to express my disappointment in your coverage of the leaked USADA Investigation Report.  You continue to publish headline excerpts of the report as if USADA’s word is gospel, without bothering to provide context or balance to the quoted statements.  You have apparently not consulted any independent legal or medical experts for insight, and have no desire to offer any perspective on the situation.  Readers expect you, as journalists (or at least people who publish news) to provide some mediated coverage.

 As a case of purported doping, the report is legally flimsy.  While there appear to be some dubious medical practices going on, the report doesn’t convincingly establish any doping violations. This is especially true when you understand that the report is an advocacy brief, not a product of neutral investigation.  This should be clear enough from the language of the report itself, which frequently overstates its conclusions and uses loaded terms.  Much like a prosecutor presenting charges to a grand jury, the report represents the best, most-one sided case that USADA can put forward.  When you understand the report in that light, the case against the athletes looks terribly weak.  
 
The report itself is not well put together.  It reads like the misadventures of an amateur sleuth.  It is long on speculation and short on tangible evidence.  It relies heavily on unsupported inferential leaps.  It contains internal inconsistencies and contradictions.  It criticizes the athletes for exercising their legal rights.  Whether this is due to sloppy drafting or an anemic case, it doesn’t reflect well on USADA.
 
Your mindless regurgitation of the report’s conclusions is lazy journalism.  And the fact that you think the report is “damning” appears to expose either your ignorance or your personal animus towards these athletes and this training group.  With coverage like this, it is no wonder that the sport is cannibalizing itself.  Success by any American immediately attracts suspicion.  Athletes who should be revered for their achievements are instead unfairly branded cheats.  Your unbalanced, oversensationalized coverage only serves to encourage and inflame the toxic commentary that has become a staple of LR.  As a fan of running and a LRC reader, it saddens me.
 
Please try to include some independent, sane, rational voices in your coverage of these doping issues.
 
– A running fan and LRC reader
 
LRC response: Our attempt was not to “regurgitate the report’s conclusions,” but rather to present key takeaways from the report that were worth knowing about, taking into account it is a one-sided document. We haven’t even editorialized on what we think should happen to Alberto Salazar, Dr. Brown or the group yet.
 

Let’s quickly go through our 6 takeaways in our article.

1) USADA presents strong evidence that all of the Nike Oregon Project runners that received L-carnitine injections from Dr. Brown committed anti-doping violations We didn’t say they presented conclusive evidence, but we said it was strong evidence. To commit a doping violation, an athlete only needed to receive an injection of more than 50 ml, which is a very small amount, 1.7 ounces. The report presented strong evidence to suggest the injections were larger than 50 ml. This section is the only place we used the word “damning,” saying “the conclusion for each runner was damning and basically as follows”… which was that they were “in violation of the applicable anti-doping rules.” Now maybe we shouldn’t have used the word “damning” because some of you may not care they got more than 50ml and be thinking of fire and brimstone, but the definition of damning is, “(of a circumstance or piece of evidence) strongly suggesting guilt or error” which is a perfect description of an anti-doping violation.

2) Alberto Salazar misled athletes about his interactions with USADA and the treatment they were receiving The report backed this up with emails.

3) Alberto Salazar had no problem playing doctor and both he and Dr. Jeffrey Brown showed little regard for the health of NOP athletes This is where we think we could have used better language. We don’t want to imply Salazar or Dr. Brown intentionally did not care about their athletes’ health, but the report presented evidence that performance enhancement was their #1 concern and as a result sometimes the athletes took substances that were not best for their overall health. This was illustrated in the case of Mo Farah taking high doses of Vitamin D while having hypercalciuria, which his British doctor immediately stopped after he found out about it. Point #3 could have been rewritten “Alberto Salazar had no problem playing doctor and both he and Dr. Jeffrey Brown showed performance enhancement, not athlete health, was the primary focus of their relationship.” Update: We’ve decided to rewrite the headline for point #3.

4) Athletes were diagnosed with hypothyroidism even if their thyroid levels were within normal ranges This is well documented in the report.

5) Salazar was obsessed with trying to improve his athletes’ testosterone levels Well documented as well. We didn’t say these methods were prohibited by USADA.

6) Nike CEO Mark Parker was kept informed of Alberto Salazar’s L-carnitine discoveries An interesting piece of information we had not seen reported elsewhere.
Email #3: LetsRun.com Japan is Coming

Dear Let’s Run.com staff,

My name is  *** ******** from Tokyo, Japan. My husband and I are big fans of your web site. My husband, *******, is a sports writer specializing in long- distance. He writes on magazines and web sites in Japan. I am his translator.
I’m writing this email to get your permission to translate your articles into Japanese and introduce them in Japan. We don’t have enough resources about track and field here in Japan, especially the event and information which are happening outside Japan. We don’t have any track and field news which has deep insights like the articles you write. Japanese can’t get enough information mainly because of lack of English ability. 
We, my husband and I, would like to share your articles in Japan by translating them into Japanese. I believe your articles are all must read. They’re worth sharing in Japan. 
The Japan Running News blog is a great resource but mainly writes in English about Japan-based runners. It doesn’t write in Japanese about worldwide running news. We’d be honored to have our site translated into Japanese. We’ve already had it translated into Hebrew.

Email #4: Setting the Record Straight on Who Rides Horses to Death

 

On Wed, May 24, 2017 at 4:33 PM, **** ****** <***@******> wrote:
It’s ironic that Robert Johnson claims a horse will run itself to death and only a rider can hold it back.  Actually, the opposite is true.  It’s riders that can run a horse to death. Just like coaches of scholarships athletes can run them into the ground.
The email is referencing University of Oregon coach Robert Johnson‘s, comment to the Eugene Register-Guard that Edward Cheserek would not be competing any more this year because of an injury. Johnson said, “If you get on a horse and just let it ride, it’ll ride itself to death. That’s why you have a jockey put a bit in its mouth and hold it back to keep it from doing things that are dangerous or not productive. Most athletes have that, ‘I want to go, I want to go, I want to go’ mentality. It’s up to the older and the wiser to make good and sound decisions for them.”
The emailer’s implication is that Oregon ran Cheserek a bit too hard. Since we were advocating for Cheserek to try to pull off the mile-3k-5k-DMR quadruple at NCAA indoors, we don’t agree. A college track coach’s first priority should be his athletes’ health and well-being, but after that it’s for his track team to score as many points as possible at major meets and Oregon didn’t go to the well too often with Cheserek in our opinion.
 
Thoughts? Comments? Email us letsrun@letsrun.com or discuss the emails in this thread on our forums.

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