Asafa Powell

Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson make first comments since drug test revelations

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Jamaican Olympic sprint medalists Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson were shocked when they were told they had failed drug tests and have no plans to retire, they said in a group interview in Jamaica on Tuesday night.

Reuters and the Jamaica Gleaner (Wednesday’s front page pictured) were on hand at a law office in Kingston.

“I have never thought about it (retiring),” Powell said, according to the Gleaner. “I was just shocked by the news. I have been thinking a lot but never once thought about giving up.”

Two attorneys, their track club president and a publicist were also present. Simpson broke down in tears in the interview, according to the Gleaner.

Powell, the former world-record holder in the 100 meters, and Simpson, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the 100, said in statements on July 14 that they tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican national championships in June.

They are potentially facing many months, perhaps years in suspensions, pending “B” sample tests results.

Powell and Simpson declined to answer questions about their Canadian trainer Chris Xuereb, whom has been blamed by their agent and their track club.

An email from Xuereb’s account last week said he did not provide banned substances to the sprinters, who he said are “looking for a scapegoat.”

Powell, 30, said in Tuesday’s interview he will miss the world championships in August. Powell failed to qualify individually by finishing seventh at nationals, but he could have conceivably been picked for the 4×100 relay.

Simpson, 28, placed second at Jamaican nationals in the 100, qualifying for the world championships, but her worlds status was not addressed in the Reuters or Jamaica Gleaner stories. It would be surprising to see her compete in Moscow next month.

Simpson said she was “shocked” when she received a phone call in Madrid at 1:30 a.m. informing her of the test findings. Powell said he first heard the news at a hotel room in Italy.

“At first I thought it was joke, you know, I thought I was being pranked!” Powell said. “Because that was the first something like that has ever happened; I was confused after and just in disbelief.”

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Details of NBC Olympics’ Facebook, Instagram content for Rio

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NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram will team up to provide video highlights and interviews on social media daily during the Rio Olympics.

An on-site “Social Command Center” in Rio will capture Facebook Live content, including interviews with athletes and NBC Olympics commentators.

A daily two-minute recap video will be produced for Facebook, while Instagram will have a daily slow-motion video around an inspiring moment.

Instagram will also feature NBC Olympics commentators and athletes on its own account, @instagram, along with highlights of NBC videos through its Search & Explore video channels.

More on the NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram partnerships is here.

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster

Russia names flag bearer for Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08:  Sergey Tetyukhin #8 of Russia celebrates a point in the second set against Poland during the Men's Volleyball quarterfinals on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Earls Court on August 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Russia’s depleted Olympic team named its flag bearer for the Rio Games Opening Ceremony, giving the honor to volleyball player Sergei Tetyukhin, who’s set to make his sixth Olympic appearance at 40 years old.

The announcement came via the Instagram page for Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the Russian team amidst the country’s doping scandal. Isinbayeva will not compete in Rio since her nation’s track and field team is banned, but she spoke to Russia’s athletes during a ceremony Wednesday.

“Today, as never before, we need to stay united and become a family,” Tetyukhin said before the athletes departed for Rio on Thursday.

Russia’s flag bearer was set to be announced Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS, but Isinbayeva said in her Instagram post (according to Google translate), “Flag bearer at the Olympics in Rio have already been defined, it is a great athlete, Olympic champion, Sergey Tetyukhin volleyball. Yesterday at a reception at the President he acted with dignity and promised to fight for the victory in Rio.”

The Russian men’s volleyball team has won a medal at the past four Olympics, but Tetyukhin’s time with the team began at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Russia placed fourth there, then took silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and 2008, and gold in 2012. Tetyukhin was Russia’s third-leading scorer in London.

The team will be an outside medal contender in Rio. After winning the FIVB World League in 2013, the Russians have placed no better than fifth since. They finished fifth at the 2014 World Championship, fourth at the 2015 World Cup, and sixth at the 2015 European Championship.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova was Russia’s flag bearer for the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, but she will miss the Rio Games while serving a drug suspension.

MORE: Number of Russian athletes banned from Olympics reaches 105