USATF CONVENTION OPENS ON OPTIMISTIC NOTE By David Monti (c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(29-Nov) -- With his books in the black and 26 medals (14 gold) won at
last August's IAAF World Championships in Athletics, USATF CEO Craig
Masback was riding high as he strode the podium to give his State of
the Sport address at the opening session of the USATF annual convention
Reminding the 800+ attendees that their organization was
$3,000,000 in debt back in 1997 when he took charge of the
Indianapolis-based governing body, Masback said today that his
organization was sitting on a significant reserve fund and was "poised
to use our power to make a difference."
Indeed, under Masback's
guidance the United States has minted global stars like Allyson Felix
and Tyson Gay, Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards, Bernard Lagat and
Alan Webb and Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi. He called athletics
"the world's best sport," and thanked the federation's members for
their hard work and support to make the United States the world's #1
But Masback also acknowledged the sport's ongoing
doping scandals, which he said were not over. In the fight against
doping, he called 2007 "a year of progress and pain."
to say that there are challenging days ahead," said Masback about the
infamous cases of sprinters Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones and coach
Trevor Graham which have yet to be fully resolved in various judicial
forums. He said that USATF could be proud of its anti-doping record,
unlike sports like baseball which spent years denying that there was a
problem and now has an all-time home run record holder who was recently
indicted for lying about whether he used performance-enhancing drugs.
"In contrast, we are what America needs," he said of track and field when compared to Major League Baseball.
said that the job of catching cheaters would never cease because a
certain percentage of people would always try cheating as a means to
get ahead. He said dishonest athletes were no different from stock
traders who used insider information or taxpayers lied about their
In the area of promoting the sport Masback said that in
2007 USATF enjoyed its highest-ever television ratings for a
non-Olympic year, and that the television package for the 2008 Olympic
Trials in Eugene, Ore., next summer included coverage on the USA
Network, America's highest-rated cable channel, and NBC Sports.
"We have an incredibe TV schedule" for 2008, he said.
Bill Roe also addressed the convention, handing out a dozen President's
Awards and leading a group remembrance of members of the USA track and
field community who had lost their lives in the past year. He called
fallen marathoner, Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died at the recent USA
Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon, "a bright star who was nowhere
near his peak." He announced a special raffle which would benefit
Shay's widow, Alicia Shay.