Olympic Newsdesk -- USA on Track for London Success; Sponsor Insult; Giuliani to Rio

(ATR) USA Track and Field says it can win 30 medals in London... Speedskater insults sponsor... Rudy Giuliani to fight crime in Rio de Janeiro...



attends the TIME's 2009 Person of the Year at the Time & Life Building on November 12, 2009 in New York City.
attends the TIME's 2009 Person of the Year at the Time & Life Building on November 12, 2009 in New York City.

USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan said the U.S. is on track to win 30 medals in athletics at the London Olympics. (USATF) USA Track and Field on Track for London Success

USA Track and Field is on track to secure 30 “clean medals” at the London Olympics.

USATF CEO Doug Logan made the comments at the annual “State of the Sport” address at the federations headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.

“We are on our way” he said.

“Led by Chief of Sport Performance Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, we have put into place many of the resources necessary to achieve that goal.”

Citing the success of the U.S. team at the athletics world championships in Berlin in August as proof of the progress, Logan added “in the next 18 months, our progress toward that goal will become more obvious and measurable.”

Last year USATF launched the “Project 30 Task Force” to help meet their goal of 30 medals in London. The panel suggested a comprehensive overhaul of USATF to promote athletes’ Olympic success, and according to Logan, all suggestions “have been achieved or are in process”, with the exception of forming an athletes’ union.

Logan said USATF is growing. “Our 2009 membership levels were up 11 percent from 2008, and the number of member clubs increased 5 percent.”

For the first time in nearly six years, USATF’s budget is increasing. During that time, the budget had remained at $16 million.

“[W]e have submitted an annual budget for 2010 of $21 million… To increase our budget 40 percent in daunting economic times, we increased our revenue and changed our mindset from status-quo to ‘go, go, go.’ Our business plan is designed to generate new and higher-value sponsorships.”

Some of the money from the expanded budget will help to fund programs thought to be underfunded in a new “Challenge Grants” program.

“We believe that these grants, which will go to projects that foster competitive excellence, will have an profound impact on the Youth, Masters, Race Walking, Long-Distance Running and Disabled disciplines…Groups that may in the past have felt overlooked, or at least under-funded, will each have between $25,000 and $50,000 in grant money earmarked for them.”

The United States has never hosted an athletics world championships, and won’t in the future but Logan said “We're working on it.”

“I don't know that I've ever been accused of mincing words, so let me say unequivocally that Chicago losing the 2016 Olympic bid was more than a small bump in the road for us as we move toward this goal. That bid would have given this country a stadium capable of holding a World Championship. But we haven't given up, and we are actively pursuing alternative options with other U.S. cities to consider a 2015 bid.”

Logan said next year will debut a series of meets between the U.S. and Jamaican track teams—the two perennial powerhouses in the sport. The series of meets will rotate between Jamaica and the U.S.

No Disciplinary Action for Insulting Speedskating SponsorShani Davis called Stephen Colbert—a US Speedskating sponsor—“a jerk”. (Getty Images)

There will be no disciplinary action taken against Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis who called U.S. Speedskating sponsor Stephen Colbert "a jerk" on Thursday. Davis failed to explain his antipathy towards the TV talk show host and comic.

US Speedskating spokeswoman Peri Kinder told Around the Rings on Friday that the organization allows its skaters to form their own opinions.

"All of our skaters have a right to their opinion," she said. "Shani is a great skater. We appreciate all of his efforts."

In the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, Davis won gold in the 1000 meters and silver in the 1500. This weekend, Davis and fellow speedskaters are gearing up for Vancouver 2010 by competing in Calgary, Canada, as part of the International Speedskating Union World Cup tour.

"We are very focused on this weekend's competition and we do not want distract from that. We have a lot of really talented athletes going into this event this weekend. We want to keep them focused and keep their minds on where the should be—on competition."

The Colbert Nation became a sponsor of US Speedskating in November after the federation announced a $300,000 shortfall for the year after the bankruptcy of sponsor DSB Bank of the Netherlands. Colbert helped raise $250,000 to date for US Speedskating but the benefits of the sponsorship goes beyond numbers according to Kinder.

"To have the whole (Colbert) Nation behind us has been phenomenal," she said. "It has been great publicity, more publicity than speedskating has ever had in the history of speedskating. It has been really amazing. We really appreciate all their efforts and all the things that Stephen and his show has done for us."

Since DSB declared bankruptcy, US Speedskating also signed 24 Hour Fitness as a sponsor. Still, the organization has some way before it stands on stable financial footing.

"We are hanging in there," Kinder said. "We are hoping to break even by the end of the season. If we can do that then we will be very, very happy."

Giuliani to Fight Rio Crime

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani will help fight crimeFormer New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani will help fight crime in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Olympics. (Getty Images)in Rio de Janeiro as the city tries to clean up before the 2016 Olympics.

Giuliani, led a zero-tolerance on crime administration during his tenure as NYC mayor fro 1994 to 2002, which many say helped lead to the dramatic decline in crime in the city.

His consulting firm was contracted by the city to provide advice on how to reduce crime. No specifics of the details were released.

On Thursday, Giuliani visited a favela and praised police department work. He said he thinks Rio can become safe before the Games in seven years time.

Gold Medalist Investigated for Tax EvasionPolice are investigating allegations that gold medalist Paolo Bettini avoided paying more than $16 million in taxes. (Getty Images)

Cycling gold medalist Paolo Bettini is being investigated over allegations he avoided paying more than $16 million in taxes, Reuters reports.

Bettini, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Games now has a residence in Monaco but is officially still living in Italy. The cyclist attempted to avoid paying revenue taxes in his native Italy by transferring the funds to his residence in Monacao.

He was quoted by the Associated Press as saying he would "clear everything up at the appropriate time."

Dutch Cycling Compromise for Vancouver Games

The Dutch will be allowed to leave bikes in Vancouver after the Olympics. That’s the settlement reached in a compromise over paying duties on the bikes.

The Netherlands Olympic team was originally planning to bring bikes to the Olympic Village to promote cycling and healthy living, and then donate the bikes to charity after the Games. But it was determined that the Dutch would have to pay duties on the bikes. The compromise says 25 bicycles can be left behind, but the other 400 must be shipped back to avoid paying duties.

A three year campaign has been in underway in Canada, underwritten by the Netherlands, to promote cycling in Canada.

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Written by Ed Hula III. and Sam Steinberg.