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Flame Watch: Sochi confirms Olympic Torch spacewalk

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Sochi CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko confirmed Monday that this year’s record-breaking Relay will include a handoff out in the vacuum of space.

“Nobody has done this before. The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be an historic moment in the history of the Olympic torch relay,” Chernyshenko said. “I want to thank the Federal Space Agency for its support which will enable us to take the Sochi 2014 OlympicTorch Relay to the final frontier.”

The Torch will ride to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M spaceship on November 7, and then Russia cosmonauts Sergei Ryazansky and Oleg Kotov will take it out for a spacewalk sometime during their mission, which was moved up from a few weeks from November 25 in order to accommodate the historic Relay.

Of course, for safety reasons, Chernyshenko stressed that the Flame won’t be lit during its trip.

But while the spacewalk is certainly unique, this will actually be the third time the Torch has traveled outside of Earth’s atmosphere. In 1976, the Flame was converted to an electronic impulse in Greece, then beamed into space and sent back down to Canada via satellite – science! And in 2000 the Torch made a trip aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis ahead of the Sydney Games.

This year’s relay, which starts October 7, will take 123 days, stretch more than 50,000 miles and include more than 14,000 Torchbearers before it lands in Sochi for the Opening Ceremony on February 7.

Allyson Felix expects to be near 100 percent in Rio

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U.S. runner Allyson Felix says she expects to be close to 100 percent when 400m qualifying begins on Aug. 13.

Felix, who hurt her right ankle during training this spring, was at less than 100 percent earlier this month when she ran in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

She failed to qualify for her favorite race, the 200m, and will not have a chance to defend her Olympic title at that distance.

At the U.S. training camp on Friday, Felix said she doesn’t think she’ll ever get past the disappointment of not getting to go for the 200m-400m double, but she’s focused on the task at hand. The 400m final is Aug. 15.

MORE: How Felix handled the minutes after she missed the Olympic 200m team

Entire Russian weightlifting team banned from Olympics

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The International Weightlifting Federation has banned the Russian federation and all its weightlifters from the Rio Olympics.

The IWF said Friday the multiple cases of doping by Russian weightlifters have “seriously damaged” the integrity of the sport. The eight Russian Olympic spots have been offered to other countries.

The IWF said the doping results produced by Russian weightlifters are “extremely shocking and disappointing.”

Russia, China, North Korea and Kazakhstan are the world’s top four weightlifting nations.

MORE: U.S. Olympic weightlifting team complete