Coach Newton’s Blog

Olympic Coach Harvey Newton’s blog features insights and announcements concerning technique, training, and competition for the sport of weightlifting, along with relevant topics dealing with strength training for other sports.

Let the "Games" Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part III)

Just prior to the Rio Olympic Games the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released the Independent McLaren Investigations Report, a damning document that calls for strict penalties against the entire Russian sports organization, in Rio and beyond.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) removed a small number of Olympic slots from countries (including Russia) due to violations of anti-doping rules earlier. Just prior to the Games the IWF voted to suspend the participation of Russian weightlifters at the 2016 Olympics.

The resulting slots were awarded to representatives of small nations that otherwise might not compete. This action is a quick and effective way to "win friends and influence people" relative to the electoral process conducted near the end of the year.

The recent number of doping violations in weightlifting reinforces the appearance of serious, state-run efforts by numerous countries bent on winning medals. On the other hand we have countries that tend to have solid anti-doping programs in place. These lifters are perhaps not likely to be using PEDs, but what about the possible use of popular and readily available nutritional supplements? This area of concern is often overlooked until it’s too late.

Read more: Let the "Games" Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part III)

Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part II)

Today's anti-doping campaign is often described as a cat-and-mouse game. In other words, one side takes an action, and the other side reacts. As reflected in recent headlines, today's version of the game is taking on new dimensions.

Announced recently by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the Russian track and field federation is not eligible to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The International Weightlifting Federation (IW) has similarly announced that the Bulgarian weightlifting federation, uninvited to the Beijing Games in 2008, is again ineligible to compete this year. In both cases the respective international federations (IFs) have drawn the proverbial line in the sand relative to how much they will tolerate.

Which is winning, the cat or the mouse? To gain insight let's look at testing over the years.

Read more: Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part II)

Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part I)

Among the many sociology classes I taught at the University of Colorado during the 1990s was one entitled Sport, Drugs, and Society. This followed my eight years heading USAW where I'd been a keen observer of the progress made during the early years of modern anti-doping control. One thing is certain; controlling the use of banned ergogenic aids is a constant challenge.

At the 2016 USAW National Championships I had the opportunity to accompany a lifter to doping control. It had been several years since doing so, and it proved enlightening to see some of the changes now in place.

Coaches and athletes need to be familiar with this process of doping (a classic European term) control so as not to be caught off guard when they meet a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) representative in the warm-up room after their last lift. Another young lifter with whom I had been working at Nationals was whisked off to doping control, but did not have her father accompany her. I discovered later that an athlete's representative is no longer allowed to enter the control room after the athlete's initial arrival.

Coaches, don't let a lifter go to doping control unattended.

Read more: Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part I)

Red Lights? White Lights? Does Anyone Really Care?

This topic has been covered on these and other pages many times in the past. Bottom line: the number of failed lifts at major USAW national events (and by USA lifters at many international events) is impressively negative.

TJ Greenstone, silver medalist (+105kg) at this year's USAW National Championships, developed the following table for consideration. By the way, Greenstone succeeded with five of his six attempts.

Read more: Red Lights? White Lights? Does Anyone Really Care?

Teach 'em to Miss!

The bar was loaded for a PR snatch attempt. All eyes focused on the lifter as he chalked up. The weights flew quickly overhead, snapped into place, and the cheers erupted. But before the lifter could recover from the bottom position the bar moved forward, he fell back on his butt, and the lift was lost.

Unfortunately, in this case, a missed lift was not the only issue. Fighting to regain balance in his collapsed posture the lifter quickly kicked his legs in the air, intersecting with the descending barbell. This resulted in a decent whack to both shins and more significantly, heavy impact to his right ankle.

I know of a similar bailout style used some years back that resulted in two fractured tibias.

Read more: Teach 'em to Miss!

Weightlifting and Military Service

Leading a few USA Weightlifting coaching courses recently at military facilities caused me to reflect on the topic of lifting while in the U.S. Armed Forces. In years past, when mandatory national service, i.e. selective service (the draft), was in place, most American males acknowledged they would be “in the Army now” for at least two years. After a lifter received his “Greetings” notification there was no assurance that training would be possible, due either to location or job responsibilities.

But numerous USA lifters have stood atop the international podium and served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Read more: Weightlifting and Military Service