To be fair, he said that in the context of arguing for the importance of coaching rather than “high performance management” programs, so his main point was not just to call out US middle distance running (full article at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10698622).
And certainly Snell’s opinion has to be taken seriously, given his accomplishments on and off the track.
But having said all that ... I think he’s selling US middle distance running a little short, at least based on recent results.
In 2010, the US has two guys ranked in TFN’s world top 10 in the 800m (Symmonds and Wheating), more than any other country except Kenya, and same for the 1500m (Manzano and Wheating). The US women had an even stronger year, with three in TFN’s top ten for the 800m (Johnson 3rd, Pierce 8th, Uceny 9th), more than any other country, and two in the 1500m (Rowbury and Wurth-Thomas), as many as any other country.
Yes, yes, I know – TFN rankings don’t necessarily mean squat, and 2010 was an atypical (non-major-championship) year. So I’m not saying that US middle distance is awesome, just that it seems overly harsh to say it is “pathetic.”
Finally, in other comments, Snell mentions Nick Willis as an example of a New Zealand athlete who has succeeded. But isn’t Willis pretty much a product of the US system? The same system that Snell bashes?