American champions receive doping bans and miss Olympics
In mid-June, the track world was rocked by the news that in December 2020, double American record holder and 2016 Olympian Shelby Houlihan had tested positive for the steroid nandrolone and was secretly serving a suspension while appealing her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ( cas). The news only became public when the cas ruled against Houlihan, who claimed the positive test came from a food truck burrito. Houlihan was now banned from the sport for four years and would miss not only the Tokyo Olympics, but the 2024 Olympics in Paris, as well.
Hassan, Gidey break women’s 10,000m world record twice in three days o
n June 6, the world looked on in wonder as Dutch superstar and European record holder Sifan Hassan lapped multiple at hletes to shave more than 10 seconds off the 10,000m world record in Hengelo, Netherlands. Her time was 29:06.82 . Two days later, on the same track, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey broke t he record again, by close to six seconds. Gidey’s new record stands at 29:01.03, pending ratif ication. ( The previous record stood at 29:17. 45 and was set during the 2016 Olympic final by gold medallist Almaz Ayana of Egypt.)
Walmsley wins third straight victory at Western States 100
On June 26, U. S. ultrarunner Jim Walmsley of Flagstaff, Ariz., won his third straight victory at Western St ates, crossing the f inish line of the iconic 100-miler i n Auburn, Calif., in 14 hours, 46 minutes. The race was cancelled in 2020 due to covid; Walmsley first won in 2018, in 14:30:04, breaking the course record, and in 2019 he lowered it again, finishing in 14:09:28. (While extreme heat prevented him from breaking the record yet again this year, his sub-15 performance was still an hour and 20 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Tyler Green, who finished in 16:11:02. Drew Holmen rounded out the podium in 16:23:09.)
Beth Pascall of the U. K. topped an international women’s podium consisting of herself in 17:10:42 (seventh overall); Ruth Croft of New Zealand in 17:33:48 (ninth overall) in her f irst 100-miler; and Ragna Debats of the Netherlands in 17:41:13 (10th overall). Kat Drew of Vancouver was the top Canadian, finishing 53rd overall, in 23:45:30.
Two weeks later, 100m Olympic Trials winner Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for thc, the active ingredient in marijuana, and received a 30-day suspension, which also took her out of the Olympics. In the wake of her suspension, many have questioned prohibiting marijuana in competition (according to wada rules), since it is not widely believed to be performance-enhancing. Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth at trials, was selected to replace Richardson on the U.S. roster for the 100m.
And on July 2, 100m hurdles Olympic gold medallist Brianna Rollins-McNeal lost her appeal of a fiveyear ban imposed for a missed drug test in Jan. 2020 and for tampering with doping control. (She had also served a previous ban in 2017.) In a New York Times interview, McNeal disclosed that the missed test occurred while she was recovering from a pregnancy termination. Gabbi Cunningham, who finished fourth at trials, was selected to replace McNeal on the U.S. roster for the 100m hurdles.— CR