Group calls for big changes at USA Track and Field

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They asked for a candid review of their problems and they got it – 69 pages of unflattering details, uncomfortable advice and a laundry list of possible solutions for the U.S. track team.

They asked for a candid review of their problems and they got it – 69 pages of unflattering details, uncomfortable advice and a laundry list of possible solutions for the U.S. track team.

A task force commissioned by USA Track and Field released its report Monday, lashing out at the American relay system, recommending streamlining Olympic trials and calling for a more stringent policy for dopers who want to be reinstated.

The report came in the wake of a disappointing showing at the Beijing Olympics. Americans led all countries with 23 track and field medals, but their seven golds were the lowest total since the 1997 world championships.

The task force is called “Project 30,” a nod to the goal of winning 30 medals at the 2012 London Olympics.

“We’re headed toward having single digits in the next few Olympics if we don’t make the changes,” said Carl Lewis, one of the nine members of the task force.

The panel decried an overall “lack of accountability, professionalism and cohesion” among staff, coaches and athletes. The group suggested athletes focus more on winning Olympic medals, acting like professionals and possibly creating a union, and less on things such as appearance fees and access to TVs in the Olympic village.

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In photo: United States’ Torri Edwards (right) and Lauryn Williams drop the baton in a women’s 400-meter relay heat during the athletics competitions at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

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