Sport is dead when we don’t believe, warns Diack

Updated 16 August 2015
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Sport is dead when we don’t believe, warns Diack

BEIJING: Doping is a “scourge” and “sport is dead” if track and field fans don’t believe what they see, outgoing IAAF president Lamine Diack has warned in an interview with AFP.
Speaking ahead of the vote by the 214 member federations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to choose either Sergei Bubka or Sebastian Coe as their new president, Diack told AFP of his admiration for Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, but also lamented the fact that doping remained a massive issue.
“When confronted with painful issues such as doping the IAAF have always stood firm and we continue to lead the way in this global fight against cheating,” Diack insisted, with the world championships due to start on August 22 after the IAAF Congress.
“We will not let doping damage the credibility of our sport, and we will not stint in our crusade to have a clean sport, and to the extent of our investment and resolve in this respect athletics arguably leads the sports world’s fight against this scourge.
“The IAAF completely understand the importance of the credibility in competition. I have said on many occasions that when the day comes where we no longer can believe what we see then sport is dead.
“But I am convinced that the majority of athletes compete clean. We have an obligation to them to root out the cheats and make sure that it is possible to win clean.”
The IAAF has in recent weeks been at the center of allegations of widespread cheating and suspicious blood tests involving hundreds of athletes. The Monaco-based body responded by calling the claims “sensationalist and confusing.”
“Despite recent allegations, I have no doubt of the quality of the IAAF’s anti-doping work over many decades. It has been exceptional,” Diack said.
Turning to the likes of American Justin Gatlin, who has served two doping bans but is now a serious threat to Bolt in Beijing, Diack was adamant that he had the right to compete under current IAAF anti-doping rules which are fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
“The IAAF is a member of WADA and we fight doping under that international umbrella organization. One of the responsibilities and obligations of membership and of signing up to the World Anti-Doping Code is that you adopt the same universal rules and regulations as all sports,” Diack said.
“This has historically meant athletics does not have the power to implement the harsher sanctions against cheats as many in our sport would like.
“When originally joining WADA we had to give up our right to impose four-year suspensions which went against the will of the IAAF Congress which is made up of our member federations.”
Diack, 82, was vice president back in 1999 when his Italian predecessor Primo Nebiolo passed away and the former Senegalese long jumper was suddenly promoted to president of the IAAF.
His tenure has been enlightened by the blistering performances of Bolt, the popular Jamaican showman dominating sprints since claiming treble gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Diack likened Bolt’s impact on track and field to that of American sprinter Jesse Owens, who famously won four golds at the 1936 Berlin Games which Adolph Hitler had intended to use as a backdrop for notions of an aryan master race.
“If I have to be selective then, in the period since I have been president, Usain Bolt’s outstanding performances across many competitions stand out,” he said.
“His fame has transcended athletics. In that respect he is like Jesse Owens in his era. Legends both.”
Diack will head into retirement in the knowledge that athletics has changed massively from the time he was elected vice president in 1976.
The sport has in that time been “democratized” to grow and develop the sport of athletics beyond its European and North American core, it has moved from amateur to professional status, there is complete equality in events and prize money for men and women, and international competition circuits for athletes in all the disciplines have been established.
But Diack added: “The IAAF has now consolidated its commercial stability by extending the current agreement with its marketing partners Dentsu right up until 2029.
“The long-term financial security that such a deal provides is the greatest gift I can pass on to my successor as president. It is much easier to embark on a program of change when the basics of financial security have been met.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”