Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia has consistently been a major power in world athletics. Its combined strength on the track and in the field crystallised in 2013, when the World Championships were held in Moscow. Powered by vociferous home support, Russia topped the medal table with seven gold medals in their haul of 17. Just two years later at the World Championships, Russia plummeted to ninth with just four medals, including two of the golden variety. The reasons for the fall of the Russians have become clear in recent months. Sadly, as indicated by a recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report, there was manipulation of the drug testing process in Russia. The fall was fast. Even as recently as 2014, Russia placed fourth on the medal table at the European Championships. Great Britain, the top team, took home just one medal more than the Russians. In Beijing, host of this year’s World Championships, the Russian effort paled in comparison to past performances. Many fans made the comparison and wondered. The answers have emerged from a WADA team that visited Russia and it isn’t a pretty sight. NEW ATHLETIC CHIEF Since then, Russia has appointed a new athletics chief and fired coaches who have been implicated. When the full WADA report is published, it will show how much more needs to be done to completely clean up things in Russia. If that’s the end of the trauma athletics has to face, that would be acceptable. The worry is that French investigations of ex-IAAF President Lamine Diack will unearth problems elsewhere. All we can do is wait and see. Athletes who lost medals to drug-powered Russians will also face a long wait. When Marion Jones of the United States of America (USA) finally lost her gold for the 2000 Olympic 100/200 double, no one would guess that even now, some of those medals would not be awarded. With Jones out, the gold fell naturally to Ekaterina Thanou of Greece. She ran into drug-related troubles in 2004, but Tayna Lawrence, who crossed the line third in 2000, hasn’t got the gold yet. So those affected by the Russian misdeeds may need to be very patient. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes by track side since 1980.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The Redskins play Tampa Bay (11-5) in an NFC wild-card game Saturday in their first playoff game since losing 14-13 to the Buccaneers in a second-round matchup six years ago. Just as it did against the Eagles, Washington relied heavily on its running game behind Portis and a strong defense to turn things around after losing three straight to fall to 5-6. “The basics start with playing smart football, not turning it over and also running the football and playing solid defense,” quarterback Mark Brunell said. “That’s how you win. We’ve been doing those things. The first part of the year we weren’t.” Mike McMahon threw two touchdown passes to Reggie Brown as Philadelphia (6-10) completed its first losing season since ’99 after reaching the Super Bowl last February. “We’ll go back through and look at all of it,” coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves first, if we’re putting guys in the right position to make plays and did they make the plays.” PHILADELPHIA – Going back to the basics put Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins back in the playoffs. Clinton Portis ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Redskins to a hard-fought 31-20 victory over the woeful Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Washington (10-6) clinched the NFL’s final playoff spot and its first postseason berth since 1999 with its fifth straight win. The victory also eliminated Dallas from contention. “Looking back to 5-6, we talked at that time that if we lost another game we’d be out,” Gibbs said. “Trying to win five straight is a tough deal, but our guys seemed to understand what it would take. We went back to the basics.” McMahon, who struggled in his six starts for the injured Donovan McNabb, made a crucial mistake in the fourth quarter. His poorly thrown pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Lemar Marshall, putting the ball at the Eagles 22. On the next play, Portis completely spun around to elude a tackle in the backfield, cut to the left and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone to give the Redskins a 24-20 lead. “That play was designed to lose two yards,” Portis said. “I spun around a guy and it was clear from there.” The Eagles drove to the Redskins 38 on the ensuing drive, but McMahon fumbled and Joe Salave’a fell on it. Koy Detmer replaced McMahon on the next series, but didn’t fare any better. Sean Taylor sealed the victory by returning a fumble 39 yards for a score after Phillip Daniels knocked the ball away from Detmer. Gibbs led the Redskins to three Super Bowl titles during his first stint in Washington from 1981-92. His first season back after a 12-year retirement was a flop, with the Redskins going 6-10 last year. However, Gibbs made the necessary adjustments after hearing critics say the game had passed by him. “I was starting all over,” Gibbs said. “It’s a tough road up here and last year, for whatever reason, I probably deserved it (the criticism).” For the depleted Eagles, it was a fitting end to a miserable season. With McNabb and several other key starters sidelined by injuries and Terrell Owens banished from the team, Philadelphia was undermanned and overmatched. Only 10 players who started in the Eagles’ 24-21 loss to New England in the Super Bowl were on the field against the Redskins. “If you give me everybody we had, everybody stays healthy, none of the stuff goes on, we’re talking about a different situation right now,” safety Brian Dawkins said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!