John Orozco

John Orozco deems gymnastics return a success

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Reigning U.S. all-around champion John Orozco was pleased with his first gymnastics meet in 11 months at a national qualifier Saturday.

Orozco, who tore his left ACL and suffered meniscus damage at a post-Olympics tour stop in October, didn’t make a full return to competition. He performed on four of six apparatus — excluding floor exercise and vault.

The Bronx native tied for the highest score out of 45 men on still rings (15.1), tied for fifth on high bar (14.85), took sixth on the pommel horse (14.15) and tied for 13th on parallel bars (13.65).

Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva won with a six-event total of 87, including the highest scores on high bar (15.85) and parallel bars (15.5).

Leyva and Orozco are expected to lead the field at the U.S. Championships in Hartford, Conn., in August. The world championships are in Antwerp, Belgium, from Sept. 30-Oct. 6, where there is no team event.

It’s tough to discern much from Saturday’s scores, but perhaps looking at the level of difficulty offers a clue at just how close Orozco is to his 2012 self.

His highest difficulty scores from the London Olympics qualification and all-around final for pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars and high bar were 6.4, 6.3, 6.6 and 6.7.

On Saturday, those difficulty scores were 6.6, 6.4, 6.8 and 6.0. A net difference of -.2. Take from that what you will, but Orozco appears to have left the gym in good spirits.

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WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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