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Year in Review: Boris Johnson steals the show

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OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games.

Usain Bolt, McKayla Maroney, Mo Farah and many others stamped the Olympics with the indelible mark of their personalities, yet arguably the most entertaining person at the 2012 London Olympics wasn’t an athlete at all.

Boris Johnson, the beloved mayor of London, who apparently hates verbal and behavioral restraint as much as he does combs, started things off with awesome (inebriated?) dancing during the Opening Ceremony and proceeded to bandy about town saying and doing whatever he felt like, caring absolutely not at all what anyone thought.

He began by fervently dismissing the naysayers who predicted weather- and security-related doom prior to the Games, then gleefully touted his country and its Olympians with every chance he got, before displaying equal patriotic zeal for the Paralympics. He was so entertaining that it’s difficult to pick his most memorable moment from last summer.

His hilarious interview with David Letterman ranks pretty high, as do his Opening and Closing Ceremony dancing fits, the latter of which was the UK’s most tweeted event of 2012. His numerous off-the-cuff interviews during the Games were all great too, and this mash-up video – an unauthorized Olympic Welcome that splices together things that, for some reason, he’s intentionally said directly to a camera – which went viral just before the Games began, was pretty amazing.

But the absolute best moment of Boris Johnson’s London 2012 was when he attempted to zipline into a park full of Team GB Olympic fans, only to run out of momentum and be awkwardly suspended thirty feet in the air, a Union flag in each hand, for several minutes. Far from uncomfortable, he just joked with onlookers until he was brought down.

“If any other politician anywhere in the world was stuck on a zip wire it would be a disaster,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of the incident. “For Boris, it’s an absolute triumph.”

IOC president wants life bans for Russian cheats

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 16: IOC President Thomas Bach closing remarks during the fourth day of the 21st ANOC General Assembly at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 16, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for ANOC)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian athletes and officials who are proven to have been part of a doping “manipulation system” should be banned for life from the Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach said Thursday.

Bach gave his personal view one day before Canadian investigator Richard McLaren publishes a final report into alleged state-backed cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Proof of systematic doping would be “aggravated circumstances” to justify life bans, the IOC leader said at a news conference after a three-day executive board meeting.

“I would not like to see this person again at any Olympic Games in any function,” Bach said, noting that as an IOC disciplinary commission chairman he approved life bans for Austrian team members implicated in doping at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.

However, proving that individual athletes knew of systematic doping involving state agencies could be difficult.

McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in May, is expected to give more detail about cheating operations at the Sochi laboratory.

In his interim report in July, McLaren confirmed claims by former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov of a hole-in-the-wall swapping system aided by the FSB security agency to exchange athletes’ dirty urine samples for clean ones.

Earlier Thursday, the IOC member appointed to oversee disciplinary cases that arise from McLaren’s evidence acknowledged they could be tough to prove.

“Can you prove (athletes) were aware?” Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer, said on the sidelines of a sports law conference in Geneva.

“It is not that we would be scared to attack high level people in the Russian regime,” the Swiss lawyer said. “The question is more on the legal point of view. Can you punish athletes if they have done nothing and whether they were not aware of what was happening?”

Bach has also appointed a second IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland president Samuel Schmid, to evaluate if McLaren’s report and evidence proves a state-run doping system.

“And then based on that we will see if we can start cases against athletes,” Oswald said.

Meanwhile, United States lawmakers want Bach to attend a congressional committee hearing next Thursday to provide an update on sports’ fight against doping.

“Unfortunately I cannot attend there,” said Bach, adding that the IOC will “provide by other means all the information they may need.”

MORE: Russia sets 2018 Olympics medal target

IOC president doesn’t rule out awarding 2028 Olympic host in 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: The Olympic Flag waves as part of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach says he wants to change the Olympic host city bidding procedure because it “produces too many losers.”

Bach’s comments came on the same day the IOC executive board cleared all three candidate cities for the 2024 Olympics — Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary — to advance to the next stage of the race.

Bach did not categorically rule out the possibility of awarding the hosting rights for two games at once — 2024 and 2028 — when the IOC votes next September in Lima, Peru.

Bach said at a news conference “it is not the purpose of an Olympic candidature procedure to produce losers.”

He said the goal is “to produce the best possible host for an Olympic Games.”

Asked about speculation the IOC could award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time, he said: “Let us study this question, which is not an easy one.”

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