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Six questions leading up to Sochi 2014

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The competition in Sochi starts a year from today, but with nationals and World Cup events happening as we speak, the competition is already heating up. We still don’t know who will compete in the Winter Olympics next February, but here’s a look at some of the top questions we’ll be asking all year.

Can Shaun White Three-peat?
White has won the last two Olympic titles in halfpipe, and the last six X Games titles in superpipe, but it still seems like everyone is nipping at his heels, most notably fourteen-year-old Japanese phenom Ayumu Hirano, who finished with silver in Aspen last month. White will also face Finland’s Markus Milan and America’s Scotty Lago. but we’re sure White will have something new up his sleeve for Sochi.

How well will Lindsey Vonn do in Sochi after the injury?
Questions will linger about Vonn’s conditioning coming off such a serious knee injury – she tore two right knee ligaments and fractured a bone in her shin – but as Christin Cooper told NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, “she’s gonna work as hard as anybody ever has to be in shape to win medals in Sochi.” We expect world champ Tina Maze of Slovenia to inspire her recovery, and expect nothing but the best from Lindsey.

Can Evan Lysacek be the first man to repeat in figure skating singles since 1952?
He can. Absolutely, so long as he’s healthy. The Vancouver champ missed this year’s nationals with a groin injury, but said he’s 100 percent now and ready to make a run for a second gold in Sochi. He’ll likely be facing-off against three-time medalist Yevgeny Plushenko, who recently had back surgery, and a host of worldwide up-and-comers including Javier Fernandez of Spain and new American national champ, Max Aaron.

What about Yuna Kim?
The South Korean star is also looking to repeat, and looked great in Germany back in December, winning gold at her first event in more than eighteen months. She should lock up a spot in Sochi at worlds in March, and definitely looks to shine on the ice again, but Americans Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold, who were both impressive at U.S. nationals last month, might have something to say about that.

How will the Russians do at their first hometown Winter Games?
The Russians have always been one of the most formidable nations at the Winter Games, but disappointed themselves and Vladimir Putin by only winning fifteen medals in Vancouver; and only three gold. They’ll aim for the top of the medal table in Sochi with stars like Plushenko, a hockey team led by NHL stars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin, speed skater Ivan Skobrev, and just about everyone on cross-country skis.

How on earth can I enjoy the Olympics more?
With more events, obviously. Twelve to be exact, which means there’s 36 more medals to be won (by the U.S.) and an exponential amount of excitement to be had. Here’s the list:

Figure skating: team event.
Snowboarding: men’s and women’s slopestyle, men’s and women’s parallel special slalom
Freestyle Skiing: men’s and women’s slopestyle; men’s and women’s halfpipe
Ski jumping: women’s normal hill
Biathlon: mixed relay
Luge: team relay

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Michael Phelps to testify at congressional anti-doping hearing

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 03:  Michael Phelps of the United States speaks with the media during a press conference at the Main Press Centre ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 3, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Michael Phelps is one of five witnesses called to testify at a congressional hearing looking at ways to improve the international anti-doping system in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Phelps will be joined by:

Adam Nelson, 2004 U.S. Olympic shot put champion
Travis Tygart, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO
Dr. Richard Budgett, IOC Medical and Scientific Director
Rob Koehler, World Anti-Doping Agency Deputy Director General

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is examining the state of the international anti-doping system, challenges it faces and ways it can be improved before the 2018 Olympics.

“The Olympic Games represent the greatest athletes in the world, and we want to preserve the integrity of competition, and ensure clean sport,” subcommittee chairman Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said in a press release. “This will be an important discussion to protect the revered distinction both the Olympics Games and their world class athletes hold.”

None of Phelps’ major results — 28 Olympic medals, 33 World Championships medals — have been impacted by the known doping of others.

But in Rio, he praised teammate Lilly King‘s criticisms of athletes competing who had previously served doping punishments. Phelps doubted he had ever competed in a clean sport.

“I think you’re going to probably see a lot of people speaking out more,” Phelps said in Rio, according to The Associated Press. “I think [King] is right, I think something needs to be done. It’s kind of sad today in sports in general, not just in swimming, there are people who are testing positive who are allowed back in the sport and multiple times. It kind of breaks what sport is meant to be and that’s what pisses me off.”

Nelson originally took silver in the 2004 Olympic shot put. Nine years later, he was upgraded to gold after Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog was stripped for doping. He received his gold medal at an Atlanta airport food court, reportedly at a table in front of a Chinese restaurant.

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VIDEO: Phelps plays raucous 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale

Police: 81 people accuse ex-USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual assault

In a July 15, 2008 photo, Dr. Larry Nassar works on the computer after seeing a patient in Michigan. Multiple gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. women's Olympic team, said they were sexually abused by Nassar, a former longtime doctor for USA Gymnastics, court documents and interviews show. (Becky Shink/Lansing State Journal via AP)
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan sports doctor who treated elite female U.S. gymnasts was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting nine girls, including some too reluctant to speak up about the alleged abuse years ago because he was considered a “god.”

In the last six months, 81 people have claimed to be victims of sexual assault by ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, according to the Michigan State University Police Department.

Roughly two dozen charges were filed Wednesday against Nassar, the first criminal cases related to his work at Michigan State University where he was the preferred doctor for gymnasts in the region who had back or hip injuries.

He’s also being sued by dozens of women and girls, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who described the assaults on “60 Minutes” Sunday.

“This guy is disgusting. This guy is despicable,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters. “He is a monster.”

Nassar, 53, was a doctor for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, until summer 2015, accompanying the women’s team at international competitions, including the Olympics. Michigan State fired him last September after he violated restrictions that were put in place in 2014 following a complaint.

Nassar’s attorneys declined to comment Wednesday. He has denied abuse, and, in an email last fall to his Michigan State bosses, said, “I will overcome this.”

The charges were filed in two cases: one in Ingham County, the home of Michigan State, and the other nearby in Eaton County, where Nassar saw injured girls at Gedderts’ Twistars Club, a gymnastics club.

He’s accused of sticking his fingers in their vaginas, without gloves, during treatments for various injuries. Parents were asked to leave the room or Nassar used a sheet or stood in a position to block any view, police said. Two girls were under age 13, and seven were 13 to 16.

“Dr. Nassar used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures,” Schuette said.

A girl identified as Victim B, now 21, said she was sexually assaulted by Nassar “`more times than she could count,”‘ Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford wrote in an affidavit.

“Victim B stated that she and all the gymnasts trusted Nassar and that he was like a god to the gymnasts. … Because it was happening to all of them, they thought it was normal,” Munford said.

Munford said Nassar sometimes gave gifts to girls to keep their confidence, including leotards and pins from the Olympics. One victim quoted Nassar as saying, “We don’t tell parents about this because they wouldn’t understand,” a reference to vaginal penetration.

Schuette said more charges are coming. Michigan State University Police Chief James Dunlap said he has more than a dozen people working on the Nassar investigation.

Nassar suddenly came under intense scrutiny last summer when former gymnasts accused him of abuse, following an August report in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse complaints against coaches and others.

Lawyers suing Michigan State on behalf of victims have accused the university of failing to do more to prevent Nassar’s alleged acts. In court filings, gymnastics coach Kathie Klages is accused of downplaying complaints about him in the late 1990s. She suddenly quit last week, a day after she was suspended for defending him in front of her team.

Michigan State is conducting an internal investigation of Nassar’s work.

“I am deeply troubled by the emerging details and recognize the courage it takes to come forward with information about personally traumatic events,” President Lou Anna Simon said Wednesday.

Besides the new criminal cases, Nassar faces charges in two cases that were filed in 2016 and are unrelated to his work as a doctor. He’s accused of possessing child pornography and molesting the daughter of family friends. He remains in jail without bond.

Dantzscher spoke to “60 Minutes” about her experiences with Nassar.

“He would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around,” she “He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.”