Drama, scandal, highs and lows. The World Athletics Championships 2019 in Doha had it all.
What started as a strange Championships with it being so late in the season, turned out to be a battle to find the good news for the IAAF. They were on the back foot from the beginning after headlines off the track had thrown the sport once again into a doping crisis. Alberto Salazar, one of the most successful coaches in the past 10 years was given a four-year ban for doping violations and was sent packing before the championships had really warmed up.
This caused disputes with athletes that have previously been coached by Alberto coming under scrutiny also. Most notably this includes, Mo Farah. The double Olympic and double World Champion trained with him between 2010-2017, where he went from being a top ten athlete to unbeatable. The IAAF then had another headache when the men’s 100m final was won by Christian Coleman, an American who narrowly dodged a two-year ban for missing three drugs tests in one year. The IAAF crisis comms team certainly earned their money’s worth during this World Champs.
Even though the World Championships have been a promotional car crash for athletics, there have still been jump-off-the-sofa, high-five-the-dog moments. Most notably the performances from Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Both overcoming world class fields to go into an Olympic year as the ones to beat. The rest of the British performances were under par, with the team coming back with their worst total since the three they won at Helsinki 2005. Some would say that for British Athletics it is all about the Olympic cycle, so save judgement until after Tokyo but it’s still the World Championships and the public are used to seeing Team GB a little higher up the medal table. Has the London 2012 magic finally worn off? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out, our view – we’ll be in for a surprise.