Project 30 Task Force calls for revamping USATF High Performance programs

02-09-2009

Contact:
Jill Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field
317-713-4663

INDIANAPOLIS - The Project 30 Task Force on Monday, February 9, issued its final report, analyzing Team USA Performance in Beijing and charting a course for programmatic change to maximize Team USA performance in Olympic and World Championship competition.

Central to its recommendations is the hiring of a General Manager to oversee all matters pertaining to athlete development and performance, including High Performance, Elite Athlete Services, Team USA Management, Team USA Staff management, National Championships, Sport Science application and Sports Medicine, Youth Development and Anti-Doping programs. Additional recommendations include targeting development of technical events to achieve 30 clean medals in London 2012, shortening the Olympic Trials, terminating the National Relay Program, strengthening the sport's anti-doping culture and establishing a well-defined Professional Athlete designation.

"I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Project 30 Task Force for the monumental service they have performed in delivering today's report," USATF CEO Doug Logan said in his Shin Splints Blog (http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/ShinSplintsBlog/ ). "They have objectively appraised the condition of the High Performance aspects of our organization, pulled no punches, and given us a roadmap for the future." Logan will examine the report for several weeks before staking out a course of action responding to the Task Force's recommendations.

The 69-page report is composed of an Introduction, Executive Summary, Findings and Recommendations.

Key findings of the Task Force include:

* Overall, there is a lack of accountability, professionalism and cohesion in the areas the Task Force studied.

* The International Team Staff selection system lacks transparency and accountability, creating a culture of mistrust for coaches and athletes alike.

* International staffs need more managers and fewer coaches.

* The criteria for selecting track and field's U.S. Olympic Team should not change, but the Olympic Trials themselves should.

* Excessive travel and poor long-term planning on the part of athletes, their coaches and agents appear to be the greatest controllable factors negatively affecting Team USA performance in Beijing.

* Spending more than $1 million in the last six years, and with as many as 173 athletes taking part in it each year, the National Relay Program has failed to produce results that justify the costs of the program.

* Lack of communication between coaches and athletes, poor management of the relay pools and questions over which coaches were responsible for relays resulted in the 4x100m relay failures in Beijing.

* American coaches and athletes under-utilize the facilities and USATF sport science available to them.

* Inroads have been made into catching and punishing doping cheats, but more must be done to strengthen the anti-doping culture.

* American athletes as a group do not conduct themselves as true professionals, and USATF does not hold them to professional standards.

Based on its findings, the Task Force makes the following 10 Recommendations:

* Hire a professional General Manager of High Performance.

* Create a transparent, criteria-based Team Staff selection system.

* Restructure the composition of Team USA staffs.

* Shorten the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field to five days.

* Terminate the National Relay Program.

* Establish a comprehensive 2012 team preparation program.

* Target technical events for medal growth and develop those events.

* Create a well-defined Professional Athlete designation.

* Establish a more stringent anti-doping reinstatement system.

* Promote and foster a self-sustaining professional athletes' union.

Logan formed the Project 30 Task Force in mid-October. Named the Project 30 Task Force to echo his goal of 30 medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Project 30 Task Force is composed of Carl Lewis, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Ralph Mann, Mel Rosen, Aretha Hill Thurmond and Deena Kastor. The USOC nominated to the Task Force Steve Roush, Doug Ingram and Jay Warwick, making the Task Force a nine-person group.

The Task Force examined more than 240 pages of documents, reports and reference materials before embarking on a series of interviews via conference call and in-person meetings. They conducted personal interviews with 30 people, including athletes, personal coaches in various disciplines, national team coaches, college coaches, athlete managers/agents, USATF National Office Staff and USATF volunteers. In addition to these interviews, the Task Force met with the Athletes Advisory Committee at USATF's Annual Meeting in Reno, via a Town Hall-style session. Task Force members conducted countless "off-line", one-on-one interviews on a personal basis, and many did their own statistical analyses.

If the Task Force's recommendations are followed, it believes that the goals of Project 30 at the 2012 Olympic Games are realistic and attainable. The full text of the Project 30 Task Force report is available online at: http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/project30.pdf

To listed to audio from Monday's media teleconference with the Project 30 Taks Force, visit http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/project30Audio.asp