COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, June 25. IT will be announced today that USA Swimming has officially signed a deal with Omaha, Neb., as the host of the 2012 Olympic Trials. A press conference to announce the decision will take place in Omaha at 1 p.m. Central.
Trials are scheduled to take place June 25 through July 2 at the Qwest Center, and will feature nationwide television coverage from NBC.
Swimming World had the chance to speak exclusively with USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus en route to the press conference. Wielgus spoke about some of the specifics regarding the selection process for a Trials host, and his thoughts about Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. He also addressed USA Swimming's thoughts regarding its readiness for another positive doping test in 2012 should it occur.
On Omaha being selected as the Trials location, and other possible locations considered:
We are incredibly excited to be returning to Omaha in 2012. We had many other cities that inquired about the bidding process, but we told each of them that we were so satisfied with Omaha in 2008 that before we put the meet out to bid we were going to make every reasonable effort to work with Omaha for 2012. We stayed in touch with the other cities over the last number of months, but did not want to make them go through a bid process if it wasn't necessary. The representatives of the cities appreciated how we handled the process.
On NBC coverage and whether it will be split between NBC and Universal Sports:
We know for a fact that the event will be covered by NBC. We don't know all of the particulars, yet. We do believe that just as in 2008 where all finals sessions were covered, the same will happen in 2012. We will have at least the same coverage as 2008 if not more.
On returning to the Qwest Center for the second time in a row:
One of the reasons we are excited about coming back to Omaha is that the familiarity will be great for our athletes and coaches. They will have a comfort level of knowing what to expect. The hotels, accommodations, meals and everything else will be similar to 2008. That familiarity makes it easier for the coaches and athletes. That was a very important part of the decision-making process.
On what steps USA Swimming has taken to lessen the potential impact of a positive doping test occurring in Omaha again after the U.S. Olympic Roster issues to replace Jessica Hardy occurred in 2008:
I think the strongest message being sent with our experience with Jessica Hardy's positive test in 2008 ought to be reminding every single athlete to conform to our recommendation to not take supplements.
The steps we have taken so far is to meet with the leaders of USADA and express our concern to them about the importance of expedited test results. The reality is that USADA is independent. USA Swimming, as the governing body, is not responsible for conducting of tests, the production of test results or the adjudication of those test results. All of that happens outside of our jurisdiction. All we can do is express our concerns and communicate strongly our needs to places that are outside of our control.
On thoughts regarding the 2016 Olympic Games bid process:
The decision will be made October 2 in Copenhagen. Obviously, we want to see Chicago receive that bid for so many reasons. My personal view is that I think Chicago has an incredibly strong bid. The Chicago bid will also be significantly advantaged by the extent to which the President and Mrs. Obama become engaged in the finals days of the selection process.
The White House has just announced a new office related to Olympic and Paralympic sports, and that's an outstanding indication that Chicago's bid is on the radar screen. Who knows what the President's schedule will be like closer to the final days of the bid process, but I think the bid has the attention of his administration.