July 3, 2014
After a break from the Diamond League circuit for countries’ national championships, the Diamond League resumed at the 2014 Lausanne Athletissima meet. For the public at large, the meet was about one thing, the return of Tyson Gay in the “Drug 100” versus Justin Gatlin. Gatlin got the best of Gay in a very fast 9.80 (with barely any wind), while Gay ran an impressive 9.93 for second.
We cover Gay and Gatlin and present our four other big stories from Lausanne below.
We also have an extensive event-by-event recap with detailed analysis of the entire meet here: 2014 Lausanne: A New Kenya 1500 Star Arrives as Centro Fails To PB, Dibaba Loses, Tyson Gay Returns and Bondarenko Goes for the WR.
Think of this as the CliffsNotes version.
1) Justin Gatlin Wins the Drug 100
It was a year ago in Lausanne that Tyson Gay last competed on the circuit.
He was back 364 days later having served his drug suspension and squared off against fellow cheat Justin Gatlin. The meet organizers promoted this match-up and it made for good theater.
On the track, Gatlin was too good. Sorry Usain Bolt fans, but Gatlin is the best 100m man on the planet right now and it showed. He ran 9.80 with only a .1 mps wind at his back. It’s the best performance of Gatlin’s life in our book, if he’s clean. His PB is 9.79 from the 2012 Olympic final but he had a big wind at his back.
Last year, Gay ran 9.79 to win in Lausanne but when you adjust for the wind his time would have been 9.89. Today adjusting for the wind, Tyson’s 9.93 converts to a 9.95. One year away from the sport didn’t cost him much at all physically.
Which brings us to whether Tyson suffered enough off the track for his doping. On the telecast, Steve Cram asked, “Where is the penalty for Gay?” We’ll answer that.
1) He missed Worlds last year. If he served the normal two-year ban for a first-time doping offense, he’d simply miss the rest of the non-championship year. However, all of Gay’s results from July 15, 2012 until now are off the books. That is nearly two full years.
2) He is paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money and appearance fees. We don’t know of any other drug cheat who has done that. Presumably, he has to pay back every organizer to July 15, 2012.
3) Most importantly, he reportedly confessed everything he knew to USADA and cooperated fully. If drug cheats who don’t tell the truth and don’t help clean up the sport get a two-year ban, cheats who cooperate have to get something less otherwise there is no reason to cooperate. Considering the current drug laws in the sport, Gay’s ban seems appropriate. We have less of a problem with Gay competing than Gatlin who has never fessed up publicly to what he did.
2) Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt Show What Track and Field Should Be About
Olympic 400m champions Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt raced for the eighth time in the last two years and they did not disappoint.
James ran a world-leading 43.74 to win over Merritt’s 43.92 as Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi set an Asian record of 44.43 in third.
According to the DL twitter feed, “That’s only the second time outside of a championships that 2 men have broken 44 in the same race and the fastest time anywhere since 2007!”
The first time that feat was accomplished was last month when these two both ran 43.97 at Pre with James winning. 400m rivalries and racing has never been better than this outside of the Olympics. Thank you Kirani and LaShawn for not being afraid to lift each other to higher heights.
3) We Have a New Star at 1500: Ronald Kwemoi
Remember the name Ronald Kwemoi. The 18-year-old from Kenya won his Diamond League debut, making a hard move with 200 to go to win in 3:31.48. (Mr. Consistent, Silas Kiplagat, was second while American Matt Centrowitz skipped USAs to struggle with traffic over the final 400 and finish seventh in 3:32.70). Kwemoi has no races in any of the results databases we look at until last year. He was ninth at World Junior XC and then ran in Japan for one of the Japanese teams with a best of 3:45 for 1500.
This year he had run 13:21 and 3:42.5 in Japan. Pretty good for an 18-year-old but not amazing. Then in his next race, the Kenyan Champs (which doubled as trials for the Commonwealth Games), he won in 3:34.6 at altitude. Impressive, but Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop did not run.
Well, Kiplagat and many of the world’s best were in Lausanne today and there was no doubt the best runner over the final 100m was Ronald Kwemoi. Totally new to the sport and he’s already winning Diamond League events. Amazing.
4) Yohan Blaked Sucked
The men’s 200m was won by Alonso Edward in a season’s best of 19.84. The big news was the guy who finished in 6th place in 20.48 — Yohan Blake. Blake helped set a 4×200 world record at World Relays for Jamaica earlier this year, but this was his first race in Europe. Definitely not a good one. Blake has run 10.02 this year, but that is a long way from the Yohan Blake we expect. 20.48 is even further away. Blake came off the turn a bit back of Nick Ashmeade but then totally wilted under the pressure the final 100m.
Blake’s run caused one message board poster to start a thread: “Blake is temporarily off the juice, and SUCKS“. While that is a possibility with any athlete in today’s sports world, bear in mind Blake missed most of 2013 with injury. It is almost logical that a guy like Tyson Gay who just sat out with a drug suspension and no injury might come back quicker than a guy like Blake who was injured.
5) Another DL Meet Means More World Record Attempts in the High Jump
For the second straight Diamond League meet, Bohdan Bondarenko took attempts at breaking the world record in the high jump (WR is 2.45, Bondarenko attempted 2.46). Bondarenko wasn’t close but any time fans get to watch world record attempts is a good thing. Mutaz Essa Barshim, who also attempted WR attempts in New York with Bondarenko, went out tonight at 2.38.
We should have said this was the top five men’s stories because the women’s portion of the meet wasn’t nearly as exciting and no storyline cracked the top five for us.