Courtesy of bul-wrestling.org

Atlanta wrestling champ returns gold to IOC

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Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Yordanov sacrificed his Atlanta gold medal in the name of his sport Wednesday, and returned it to the IOC after its executive board recommended dropping wrestling from the Games.

“As a sign of protest I am returning my gold medal, won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne,” the seven-time world champ wrote in a letter IOC President Jacques Rogge, according to Reuters.

“With this act I express my solidarity with the millions of athletes and fans of our sport who are condemning the recommendation of the IOC. Our sport is an integral part of the Olympic movement and one of the foundations of both the ancient and modern Olympics.”

Yordanov retired from the sport after winning the 52kg gold in 1996, one of the nation’s sixteen Olympic titles in wrestling, making it Bulgaria’s most successful sport. Two-time Olympic champ and current Bulgarian Greco-Roman coach Armen Nazarian said he’s considering going on a hunger strike.

But amid all the backlash, Yordanov conceded that the IOC’s decision has actually been good for world politics, adding that Rogge “unreservedly united Russia, the United States, and Iran for a single cause – saving the sport of wrestling, without which the Olympics will never be the same.”

The IOC executive board will meet this May in St. Petersburg to vote on which of the eight prospective sports, including wrestling, squash, karate, wushu, sport climbing, roller sports, wakeboarding, and baseball/softball, will be voted on when all the IOC members meet this September to discuss how to fill a single slot in the 2020 Olympics schedule.

MLB Players Association head says ‘continuing dialogue’ about 2020 Olympics

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SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association says it will be difficult for big leaguers to participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Baseball returns to Olympics after a 12-year absence for the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 — in the middle of baseball’s season.

“There are challenges with the schedule, and there are challenges with major leaguers being involved,” Tony Clark said Thursday at the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training camp.

In 2008, players on major league 25-man rosters and disabled lists on June 26 were ineligible to play. The U.S. roster included 17 players from Triple-A, seven from Double-A and college pitcher Stephen Strasburg, now with the Washington Nationals.

“It doesn’t mean that we are not continuing to have dialogue. We have going back. We will going forward. Where we land, I don’t know,” Clark said. “One of the things we were able to discuss during this round of bargaining were some additional flexibility in the schedule moving forward. Maybe there are some opportunities for a broader discussion than there have been a year ago. We’ll have to wait and see. We haven’t had that kind of substantive sit down yet.”

Many players are preparing for the fourth edition of World Baseball Classic, an international tournament launched in 2006 that is co-owned by Major League Baseball and the union. Clark hopes to see a fifth edition in 2021.

“I see no reason at this point why it wouldn’t,” he said. “I’m hopeful it continues, understanding that the world we live in four years from now may be different from the one we’re in now.”

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Lance Armstrong’s $100 million trial set for November

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 20:  Lance Armstrong (C) heads out with cyclists on December 20, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The disgraced Tour de France rider is in New Zealand to film a commercial, and put out a call on social media for local riders to join him on a ride along the Auckland Waterfront.  (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong‘s $100 million legal fight with the federal government has been set for a November trial.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday set a Nov. 6 trial start in Washington. Armstrong’s legal team had asked to postpone trial until 2018 because of a potential scheduling conflict.

The government wants Armstrong to pay back the $32 million the U.S. Postal Service paid his team for sponsorship, plus triple damages.

Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis initially filed the whistle-blower case in 2010, accusing him of violating the sponsorship contract by taking performance-enhancing drugs. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong admitted cheating and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and 2000 Olympic bronze medal.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for cheating, could collect up to 25 percent of damages awarded.

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