Moroccan track legend Hicham El Guerrouj believes Arab governments and authorities must develop the way they’ve been managing sports in order to be able to produce Olympic champions like himself.
El Guerrouj, who has three Olympic medals – 1,500m and 5,000m gold won in Athens 2004 and 1,500m silver claimed in Sydney 2000 – and is a world record holder, is receiving the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Award in Dubai on Wednesday, in honour of his storied career in athletics.
The 43-year-old joined Tunisian four-time Olympic medallist Mohammed Gammoudi on stage on Tuesday, to take part in a talk labeled ‘Inspiring Experiences’ at the Sports Creativity Forum at Jumeirah Emirates Towers ahead of Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
“I am so happy to be here in Dubai to get the Mohammed bin Rashid Creative Sports Award. I’m honoured and humbled to be with many athletes like Mohammed Gammoudi, one of my favourites and a role model for me in the sport,” El Guerrouj told Sport360 on Tuesday.
Morocco has a long history in middle distance running, and its athletes have won a total of 19 medals in track and field at the Olympics, 18 of which were won between 1984 and 2012.
The sixth year of the World Para Athletics Grand Prix series will take in nine towns and cities across four continents during 2018, starting in Dubai, UAE, in mid-March and finishing in Berlin, Germany, in early July.
For the second successive year, Dubai will host the season opening event with around 450 athletes set to compete from March 13-16. At last year’s Dubai Grand Prix athletes smashed seven world records and with warm weather practically guaranteed, more records could fall once again at the Dubai Club for the Disabled track.
From the Middle East, athletes will head to South America with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympic Training Centre in Sao Paulo staging the season’s second Grand Prix between April 26-28 .
The Grand Prix series then takes in a third continent as track and field action returns to Beijing, China from May 11-13. The event, which takes place at one of the training venues used for the Beijing 2008 Games, is likely to attract many of the athletes that led China to the top of the medals table at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
Rieti, Italy, was a new addition to the calendar in 2017 and the Stadio Raul Guidobaldi track will host the fourth Grand Prix of the year from May 18-20 .
One week later, Nottwil in Switzerland plays host to the 2018 Grand Prix series with three days of world-class Para athletics set to take place from May 25-27 . In 2017, 11 world records were broken at the Swiss track in what has become one of the most highly regarded wheelchair meetings in the world.
The month of June sees four Grand Prix taking place around the world.
The Arizona Grand Prix in the USA takes place from June 15-16, while after a hugely successful inaugural Paris Grand Prix in 2017, the Stade Charléty in the French capital will once again open its doors to many of the world’s best Para athletes for two days of competition on June 15 and 16.
The penultimate Grand Prix of 2018 takes place from June 22-24 in Tunis, Tunisia – a country that boasts plenty of home-grown talent and finished sixth on the medals table at the 2017 World Championships.
The year’s final Grand Prix will take place in the German capital from 30 June – 1 July and will act as a curtain raiser to the World Para Athletics European Championships which take place in the same venue – the city’s Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark – just eight weeks later.
First held in Assen, the Netherlands, in 2003, the European Championships have taken place every two years since 2012.
The 2018 Championships in Berlin will be the sixth edition – following on from Grosseto, Italy in 2016 – and take place from August 20-26.
World 100m champion Justin Gatlin says he is “shocked and surprised” by allegations in a British newspaper that his coach and an athletics agent offered to sell performance-enhancing drugs to undercover reporters.
Anti-doping officials have launched an investigation into the claims about Gatlin’s coach Dennis Mitchell and an agent, Robert Wagner while IAAF President Seb Coe says changes are needed.
“We are looking at who we want in our sport,” Coe, the 1500m gold medallist from the 1980 and 1984 Games, said in a statement.
“The IAAF recognises as an industry we need to do more,” said the Englishman.
“Focusing on the influences that surround athletes is a critical area of work,” Coe insisted.
The 35-year-old American sprint star, who has twice served bans for doping, said he had sacked Mitchell after hearing of the claims.
The report alleged Mitchell and Wagner offered to provide undercover reporters with false prescriptions for banned performance-enhancing substances and smuggle the drugs into the United States.
The claims are being investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), set up this year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Gatlin said on Instagram: “I was shocked and surprised to learn that my coach would have anything to do with even the appearance of these current accusations. I fired him as soon as I found out about this.”
He said he was “not using and have not used” performance-enhancing drugs.
He added: “All legal options are on the table as I will not allow others to lie about me like this.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said the claims were concerning.
“These allegations are extremely serious and I know the independent Athletics Integrity Unit will investigate in accordance with its mandate,” Coe said.
That came even as the 2017 world champion, who beat Usain Bolt in the 100m final in London, had legal advisers release five years of official drugs tests that showed he was clean.
Gatlin has long been a controversial figure after being banned for doping in 2001 for one year and in 2006 for four years.
His long-time agent, former sprint hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, told the newspaper that Wagner had represented Gatlin only two to three times and that Gatlin was not present when banned substances were allegedly discussed with Mitchell or Wagner.
Mitchell and Wagner allegedly offered to supply and administer testosterone and human growth hormone for an actor training for a film on athletics at a price of $250,000 according to the report.
The newspaper said it began its investigation in July after hearing of agents and trainers involved in supplying drugs to athletes.