Trojan fans undersold severity of USC’s issues

first_imgI’m sorry, really.We at the Daily Trojan — the editors, the writers, the columnists — along with seemingly every other media outlet and the rest of the country bought into USC’s hype this season.Coming up empty · Senior quarterback Matt Barkley has completed 10 percent fewer passes in the second half of games than in the first half. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanWe got sucked up into everything, the whirlwind of the offseason, with the free agent-like addition of running back Silas Redd.We couldn’t stop talking and writing about returning starters for the nation’s preseason No. 1 team.This newspaper’s first issue in mid-August highlighted the fact that the Trojans were prepared to leave lasting legacies. One of the first football-related stories of the semester discussed how the offense “harkened back” to that of the 2005 team.And on several occasions over the last week, yours truly highlighted what now seem like far-reaching, if not impossible, possibilities: USC playing for a BCS national title and Matt Barkley earning a trip to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, given to the most outstanding player in college football.For us as students, it’s hard to separate fandom from objectivity. Most of us have at least one cardinal-and-gold T-shirt tucked in our dresser drawer.We can recite the SoCal spellout with the best of ’em and we’ve wolfed down 2:30 a.m. Chanos. (Three weeks later, I think I can still feel it).But we also hold ourselves to a higher measuring stick, so to speak, because of that second part in our titles: student journalists.And it’s our job to adhere to that second part.We’re expected to ask questions that probe, not pamper. We’re supposed to scrutinize, to point out the things that don’t look quite right. We’re instructed to analyze critically, not promote. More than anything, we’re told to be honest and fair.As I watched the unraveling of USC’s season last Saturday in Tucson — a 39-36 loss at the hands of Arizona — I couldn’t help but wonder if we missed something over the last couple weeks.Did we forget about the issues regarding depth and scholarship limitations? In the fourth quarter, the Trojans’ 75 looked gassed. Certainly they weren’t better than the Wildcats’ 85.Did we neglect to highlight Barkley’s issues with interceptions? The right-handed senior quarterback has now thrown an interception in five of the Trojans’ eight games this season, already surpassing 2011’s total of seven.Did we overlook youth on the offensive line? For the first time in school history, a freshman started at left tackle for USC, versus Arizona, and sophomore Aundrey Walker, though not suiting up against the Wildcats, has suffered his fair share of growing pains. It’s a far cry from Matt Kalil protecting Barkley’s blind side.Did we take assistant head coach Monte Kiffin at his word that the defense would simply get better with time and experience? No matter how experienced, they still gave up 588 yards of total offense to Arizona.Did we fail to ask whether USC coach Lane Kiffin was functional in playing two different roles: head coach andde facto offensive coordinator? Could he instill discipline as the head of the program while concentrating on his offensive game plan? It didn’t look like it Saturday. The Trojans were penalized 13 times for 117 yards and committed five turnovers, while Kiffin was drawing up reverses on fourth-and-two.Maybe we didn’t give these things enough scrutiny.Maybe we assumed that a 10-2 finish last fall would of course serve as a springboard for this season.Maybe we assumed “USC was still USC,” to steal a line from Lane.But it’s our job to accurately dissect this team as writers and editors making up your student newspaper.We’re asked to separate fact from fiction and truth from spin.That’s the media’s role, more or less, to serve as a watchdog for the program.And could we have done better?Six of our seven sports columnists, the ones who partake in the weekly “Best Bets,” predicted at the onset of the season that USC would in fact win a BCS national championship, keeping in line with the Associated Press poll, which also had the team at No. 1.Boy, does that seem like a long time ago.Whatever USC’s hang-up was, we missed it this preseason, because as is rather evident now: The Trojans clearly aren’t who we thought they were. “The 19th Hole” runs Tuesdays. If you would like to comment on this story, visit or email Joey at [email protected]last_img read more

Kenya makes strides on doping, but hurdles remain

first_imgThere are 4,000 top-level athletes registered with the athletics federation — four times more than in France for example — stretching oversight resources.These athletes see running — and winning — as the only way out of a life of poverty, and go undetected by the checks and controls as Kenya focuses on its elite athletes.“There are easily more than 500 top marathon runners… so it is difficult for the federation, given its limited resources, to monitor and control each athlete,” says specialist journalist Elias Makori.“Every weekend, there are dozens of Kenyans winning marathons all over the world.”– ‘A culture of honesty’ –“In East Africa, unlike anywhere else in the world, hundreds and hundreds of professional athletes make a very good living from road running,” says Brett Clothier, director of the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), a watchdog set up to police anti-doping in athletics.“Many of these athletes (…) are never tested out of competition.“Such athletes have the motivation, opportunity and financial means to boost themselves, and therefore there is a high demand for doping products.”For Brother Colm O’Connell, legendary coach of two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, the education of athletes is at the heart of combating the scourge.“I also think we must instil in our young people, as they grow up through the ranks, becoming athletes, we must instil a culture of honesty, fair-play, that you can win without, you can win clean,” he said.Other significant hurdles remain.No one is tracing doping substances stocked by pharmacies and hospitals. The regulation of athletics agents is lax. Allegations of corruption, too, have marred efforts to clean up the sport.Even identifying athletes can sometimes prove problematic, with runners registered under different names from one document to the next.Political support is also not assured. Kenya’s parliament this year cut funding for ADAK by nearly 15 percent, trimming its budget to around $2.5 million (2.2 million euros).With the Tokyo Olympics looming less than a year away, Kenya is confident it will avoid a repeat of the Rio Games controversy, even if more work needs to be done.“For now, there are signs that our joint efforts are working and that we are on the right track,” says Clothier.“The main thing is that the struggle, and close collaboration, with AIU continues.”Share on: WhatsApp Marathon runners training along the back roads around Iten but 36 Kenyan athletes are currently suspended for dopingNairobi, Kenya | AFP | Kenya suffered international embarrassment in 2016 when a string of doping scandals brought the country famed for its distance runners within a whisker of disqualification from the Rio Olympics.“It was a time when Kenya faced an enormous challenge in terms of the very integrity of our sports,” said Japhter Rugut, who heads the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK), established in the wake of the scandal.Kenya scraped through to Rio. But while its sporting authorities promised to clean up their act, Kenyan athletes have proved harder to convince.A year after the scare, Jemima Sumgong — who in Rio won Kenya’s first-ever Olympic gold in the women’s marathon — tested positive for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO) and was suspended.In 2018, three-time world champion and Olympic 1,500 metre winner, Asbel Kiprop, tested positive for EPO and was also banned.Between 2004 and August 2018, 138 Kenyan athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report published in September 2018.The report concluded that nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, corticosteroids and EPO were the substances most used by local athletes.However it found there was “no evidence of an institutionalised system” of doping in Kenya.Thirty-six Kenyan runners are currently suspended, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit.– Building awareness –Nevertheless, efforts to clean up the sport are beginning to bear fruit.Since its inception, the number of anti-doping tests conducted by ADAK has mushroomed more than 10-fold, from about 100 in 2016 to 1,150 in 2018.It has created biological passports for about 40 elite athletes to track their data over time, a development made possible by the opening of a WADA-approved blood testing laboratory in Nairobi in 2018.ADAK, under its slogan “Stay Clean, Win Right”, has also launched a nation-wide awareness-raising program aimed at athletes, coaches and medical staff.In line with International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) guidelines, Kenyan athletes selected for the 2019 World Championships starting in Doha in September will be subject to a minimum of four blood and urine tests.“Qualification will be done on time and testing,” says Jackson Tuwei, president of the Kenyan Athletics Federation.“We have made this very clear to all our athletes that those who want to go to worlds, must also qualify by being tested.”But beyond the elite level, tackling doping remains a monumental challenge.last_img read more

Counties encourage thousands to Get into golf

first_img17 Dec 2014 Counties encourage thousands to Get into golf The number of people taking up ‘Get into golf’ opportunities grew rapidly over the summer months, according to a new report on grass roots activity across England.Over 24,000 people, aged 14-plus, were encouraged by counties to take structured coaching courses in the six months from April to September 2014.That’s up by 59% on the same period in 2013, says the latest Impact Report on county activity, prepared by England Golf’s Participation and Club Support department.The figures reflect a new focus by counties on delivering structured coaching and regular playing opportunities, rather than one-off taster sessions. This approach is supported by the England Golf Strategic Plan for 2014-17 which sets out to inspire people of all ages to make golf a part of their life and aims to reverse the trend of declining club membership.Claire Roberts, England Golf’s Head of Participation, commented: “We have been very encouraged by the results from this new approach and the closer partnerships which are being created between our county officers and clubs.“We know there is enormous interest in playing golf and, by working together in this way, we can offer more opportunities for people to become regular golfers and club members.”The figures are beating targets set by the England Golf Partnership (EGP), which invests in 32 counties to support grass roots golf and grow participation. The results will also be measured by Sport England’s Active People Survey which is due out at the end of January.The report emphasises the club-centred approach adopted by counties and the additional support available through England Golf initiatives such as GolfMark and  the Clubhouse online resource.  It also outlines a new two-year pilot programme using additional investment and resources to increase membership and participation which is being tested in Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.The report details:Over 62,000 people, aged over 14, were involved in activity in the six months; a 16% increase in 2014. Over 24,000 took part in structured activity (59% increase) and more than 13,700 people became regular, once a week players (83% increase).Of these, 39% are women, which the report describes as encouraging when compared to the overall number of female golfers in Great Britain (13%).The Get into golf programme involves over 400 facilities offering opportunities for beginners, improvers and returners to the game.  The Get into golf website continues to be developed and in 2015 all golf clubs will have an opportunity to promote their sessions and membership offers on the website www.getintogolf.orgA total of 4,139 new club memberships were reported. These could include juniors but, based on an average full playing adult golf club membership fee of £846, could equal an investment of over £3.5 million over six months.Twenty-eight counties ran specific projects for disabled participants. Seven focus counties received additional support to create quality opportunities for disabled people to enter and progress in golf. A further 10 counties have been selected to receive this support from 2014-2016.Image © Leaderboard Photographylast_img read more