Dennis Mitchell, photo courtesy of www.sportscoachradio.com
INDIANAPOLIS (USA): Dennis Mitchell will stay on as the American relay coach for the Rio Olympics after officials at USATF decided to delay implementing a new policy for the job, informs Reuters. Mitchell, who coached Justin Gatlin, said in February he stepped down from the role due to a conflict of interests. USATF added a provision that prohibits a person from being the national relay coach if they coach someone with a member of the relay pool.
Larry Eder comments:
Dennis Mitchell was controversial when he was named to this position as relay coach. Frustrating to Dennis Mitchell, most members of the media note that Dennis had a drug positive in 1998. So does the social world. USATF spent much time defending Mitchell.
Is Dennis Mitchell a good coach? Sure seems so. He coaches Justin Gatlin, and Gatlin continues to improve. But a coach is more than someone good at coaching technique. A coach is a role model, for both young and veteran athletes. In the U.S., we are big on second chances. Dennis Mitchell has developed a fine coaching business and is developing fine athletes. This was all after he tested positive nearly twenty years ago.
As USA Track & Field represents the best of our sport, from the young kids running relays to our Olympic teams, they have to realize that EVERYTHING that they do is under the microscope. Sometimes, that microscope is not fair, but, that is the world. USATF teams are the role models for a million plus teenagers running track 46 weeks a year, six days a week. Sometimes, it seems like that is forgotten. I question whether USATF should have considered Dennis Mitchell in the first place. The message is winning is winning.
Then, a rule change comes and, in February 2016, Dennis Mitchell tells Reuters that he is not longer relay coach, due to the new USATF provision regarding the prohibition of a coach being made relay coach if they coach someone on the relay pool.
Many think, that this issue is over.
On April 4, 2016, we read that: 1) Dennis Mitchell never did ACTUALLY resign, and 2) USATF has decided, in their magnifiscence, to not institute the rule until the NEXT Olympic cycle.
I am no doctor, but what is going on here? Not a conspiracy suggestion, but someone made an error here. USATF had a proverbial focus of the media go away, and now, they have to justify why Dennis Mitchell is still around.
I am not sure that this is very good for our sport.
It makes USA Track & Field look like they will do anything to win a medal. It also makes USA Track & Field seem like they are above any rules, unless those rules work for them. As Rolling Stone magazine said years ago: Perception is reality.
USATF shot themselves in the proverbial foot here.
To read the original stories from Reuters, click here:
March 1, 2016: Dennis Mitchell resigns as Olympic relay coach, by Gene Cherry for Reuters
April 4, 2016: Gatlin Coach to remain relay coach, by Gene Cherry for Reuters (posted on Newsday)