I just heard today (most of you probably already knew this as I think it was anounced last week) that Craig Masback has resigned as CEO of USATF to take some kind of marketing job with Nike. All I can say is, good riddance. I've been a frequent critic of USATF as it has operated under Masback, so I am holding out hope that they make a better choice of the new CEO and can get things turned around. The main 2 criteria in my opinion for the new CEO would be no former elite athletes, and no lawyers (though a former Prosecutor would be ok!).
In a nutshell, here are my main complaints with USATF:
1. Drugs. We have lost all moral authority on this issue. Remember all the grief (rightly so) we gave the Eastern Bloc countries for their state-sponsored drug programs in the 70/80s? While the USATF is obviously not directly engaging in such programs, it is certainly enabling rampant drug use to take place. As with most sports in the US, USATF has not demonstrated any desire to actually police itself. Am I the only one who finds it odd that the only big name track athletes to fail a drug test have been at or near the end of their career? Regina Jacobs. Mary Slaney. Etc. And of course it took the Feds, and not our own sport, to crack the biggest name in track so far: Marion Jones. Being an elite athlete is not a right, it is a privilege. Masback has often taken a lawyerly "right to work" type approach when dealing with probable drug use by top athletes, where no such right should exist.
2. Development/Youth sports. Where are the programs that the member dues should be going towards? Track is a great sport to which we need to be introducing new kids all the time.
3. What does USATF have to do with trail ultras? Nothing. No reason for them to be involved at all. It isn't an Olympic or World Champ sport. The sport has a way of self-selecting the important races and simply slapping a "USATF Championship" label on a mediocre race isn't going to change that. But, if they insist on being involved and asking ultra runners to pay dues, see #2 above.
4. For the ultra event that is (and should be) under the purview of the USATF, namely the 100K world team, how about providing some support for the team? It is an embarassment to make runners who make a US team have to pay for any part of their trip expenses. Wearing the US jersey should be an honor for the folks able to qualify, not just for the ones able to afford to.