January 26, 2017
Dennis Mitchell, who oversaw the USATF’s National Relay Program for the past two years, is no longer USATF’s head relay coach. USATF is now advertising the position online with the goal of hiring a coach by March 2.
Mitchell’s tenure was hounded by controversy. Initially, he was hired by USATF to serve as the sprint coach at the 2014 World Relays. At the time, we criticized the decision as the IAAF banned Mitchell two years for doping in 1998 after a test revealed high testosterone levels, something he’s never truly owned up to unless you count his ridiculous “five bottles of beer and sex his wife at least four times” excuse.
Later, Mitchell drew criticism for the U.S. relay teams’ performances. At the 2014 World Relays, the men’s 4×100 and 4×200 relays were both disqualified for passing outside of the exchange zone. The next year, while the men’s 4×100 squad took gold against a Usain Bolt-led Jamaican squad at the World Relays, the men’s 4×200 relay was again disqualified while the women’s 4×200 team dropped the baton. The men’s 4×100 squad was also disqualifed for passing outside the exchange zone at the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics.
USATF spokesperson Jill Geer confirmed that Mitchell is no longer USATF’s head relay coach.
“USATF’s National Relay Coach position goes through the end of each Olympic year and then reopens,” Geer wrote in an email to LetsRun.com. “Per that normal cycle, the position is open.”
In the job posting, USATF listed several criteria which could severely limit the list of candidates for the position, including:
- Must recuse him/herself from coaching an athlete(s) from another nation during the period while he/she is serving as USATF National Relay Program Coach, and may not be under contract by a foreign Federation to coach athletes from that nation.
- May not serve as the personal coach of any athlete who will be/is selected for the relay pools for National Relay Program events.
- Must disclose if he/she has a financial relationship with a shoe company, and must sign a USATF conflict of interest statement.
Mitchell appears unlikely to be rehired as he serves as the personal coach of Justin Gatlin, who has been a consistent member of the U.S.’s relay teams since 2011. In fact, Mitchell told Reuters he resigned the position last year after USATF enacted new guidelines to prevent perceived conflicts of interest. But Mitchell never submitted an official resignation and was allowed to stay on as coach through the 2016 Olympics, USATF’s reasoning being that, when Mitchell was hired as national relay coach, the provision regarding conflicts of interest was not yet in place.
Given the above criteria, the most likely candidate for the position is a college coach given that most top professional coaches in the United States coach athletes who will be running for Team USA and/or athletes from other nations. The first competition for the new coach would be the Texas Relays in March, with April’s IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas and August’s IAAF World Championships in London the marquee events in 2017.
Do you want to be the next USA relay coach? If so, send your resume and cover letter to USATF High Performance Chair Mike Conley. Applications are due by February 17.
Talk about this development on our world famous fan forum / messageboard. MB: Confirmed: Dennis Mitchell Out As US Relays Coach!!
From The Archives: 2014: USATF Does It Again: Dennis Mitchell, Convicted Doper, Your Head Sprint Coach For World Relays
2015: Convicted Doper Dennis Mitchell Is Now The Paid Head USA Relays Coach Hired By USATF National Office Without Input Of USATF High Performance Committee