MORE FUNDING FOR ANTI-DOPING TESTS AT ROAD RACES

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

List of platinum category races announced

At least 2.5 million dollars in extra revenue will be made available for a comprehensive integrity program for road running in 2020, under a new funding scheme announced by World Athletics and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) last June.

World Athletics (formerly International Association of Athletics Federations / IAAF) has announced a schedule of more than 165 label road events that will be held in 2020, including the first platinum label races. Each race will contribute to the system approved by the World Athletics Council this year, by which the financial burden for out-of-competition drug testing is shared by all road race stakeholders – organizers, athlete managers and athletes.

Races will contribute according to their status: platinum marathons – 66,667 dollars, gold marathons – 15,000 dollars, silver marathons – 10,000 dollars and bronze marathons 5,000 dollars; platinum road races – 20,000 dollars, gold road races – 10,000 dollars, silver road races – 5,000 dollars and bronze road races – 2,500 dollars. The list of label events that will take place from January to September 2020 has been released; the press statement dated November 15, 2019, available on the World Athletics website said. More races will be added when their race dates are confirmed.

Their contributions, together with the fees managers pay for their athletes included in the testing pool – 500 dollars for gold status athletes and 1000 dollars for platinum – and the 1.5 per cent levy on prize money that athletes agreed to contribute, make up the bulk of the fund. In all, that means some 2.6 to 3.2 million dollars in funding will be available in 2020. The program, which includes out-of-competition testing, investigation and education, will be carried out by the Athletics Integrity Unit, the statement said. The list of gold and platinum status athletes for 2020, determined by their position in the world rankings, has also been released.

Under the previous system, the AIU and IAAF had funding to test just the first 50 athletes (the marathon and half marathon athletes) in the testing pool, which left an alarming shortfall in out-of-competition testing of athletes who compete on the rapidly expanding and increasingly lucrative road running circuit. World Athletics granted 103 races label status in 2017. That number grew to 114 in 2018 and 136 in 2019. The new platinum label races, first announced in 2018, will be introduced in 2020. Nine races have been granted platinum status thus far with up to three more late-season races to be confirmed early next year. The races announced as platinum so far are Tokyo Marathon, Nagoya Women’s Marathon, Seoul Marathon, BAA Boston Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, Media Maratón de Bogotá, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City Marathon.

Platinum label races are required to have at least three athletes with platinum status, per gender, and at least four athletes with gold status (or higher) start the race and compete with bona fide effort. The number of platinum status athletes for 2020 will be fixed at 30 per gender and determined in a two-phase process. The first, based on positions in the world rankings on 15 October 2019, will include the top 19 ranked athletes in the ‘marathon’ event group, the top three ranked athletes in the ‘road running’ event group (excluding any athletes who acquired platinum status in the ‘marathon’ group) and the top ranked athlete in the ‘10,000m’ event group (excluding any athletes who acquired platinum status in the ‘marathon’ and ‘road running’ event groups). The second phase will add seven more athletes, per gender, based on positions in the world rankings on 28 January 2020: the top four ranked athletes in the ‘marathon’ group, the top two in the ‘road running’ group and the top one in the 10,000m event group who had not yet achieved platinum status, the statement said.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

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