Austin Runner Eyes Olympic Gold As Doping Scandals Swirl Around Rio

The Olympic track-and-field trials start next week in Eugene, Oregon.

By Jimmy MaasJune 27, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From KUT

Leonel Manzano is a lot like a lot of other folks you might find around Austin. He drives a Ford pickup; he runs around Lady Bird Lake; he works out at the YMCA. But that’s probably where the similarities end. You see, Manzano’s among the fastest runners in the world in the 1,500-meter run.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Manzano — the pride of Marble Falls — came from near the back of the pack on the last lap to finish a half-second behind the gold-medal winner, Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria.

“You start thinking about everything you’ve done and everybody that’s home supporting you and your family, it’s just all these thoughts come through you. And then it’s like, ‘Hey, it’s not over. It’s not over. There’s still 400 meters left to go.’ And even though you may be feeling totally out of it, all these thoughts are also motivation.”

Before Manzano’s silver medal, the last time an American medalled in the 1,500-meter wasJim Ryun in 1968. Manzano will be looking to improve on that this summer in Rio. However, Olympic Games are already mired in controversies months before they even start.

The latest controversy, doping, could linger over the games. Russia’s track-and-field team could be banned completely from the Olympics. The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may even consider a ban on most of the Russian delegation for the Summer Games. An anti-doping investigation by WADA found systemic state-sponsored doping has been going on in Russia for years, and perhaps not just in track events. Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been named to its tennis team despite a two-year doping ban.

Doping isn’t limited to Russia. Eighteen Kenyan runners are serving suspensions that total 55 years.

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