Jacques Rogge

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

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Three major Olympic decisions will come down in the coming week at the 125th International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The host city for the 2020 Olympics will be named Saturday. Remember four years ago, when Chicago was a finalist to host the 2016 Olympics? On that Friday morning (U.S. time) in October 2009, Chicago was surprisingly eliminated in the first round of voting in Copenhagen. Of course, Rio de Janeiro went on to win the bidding to become the first South American host of the Games.

The other two finalists from four years ago, Madrid and Tokyo, are the two favorites from this year’s final list of three. The other candidate is Istanbul, which was seen as a much more popular pick nine months to a year ago, before it began dealing with anti-government protests and massive doping issues.

Madrid would give Spain its first Olympics since Barcelona 1992. Tokyo would bring the Olympics to Japan for the first time since Nagano 1998. Turkey has never hosted the Olympics.

Tokyo may hold the slight lead going into the session, where each city will make 45-minute presentations to the IOC followed by a question-and-answer session. Here’s how the voting will go down, via The Associated Press:

Voting begins at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. Nearly 100 IOC members will vote by secret ballot until one city gets at least 50 percent of the vote, so there could be two rounds of voting. IOC president Jacques Rogge, who opts not to vote, will open a sealed envelope and announce the winners shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday.

City previews: Istanbul | Madrid | Tokyo

Here are the promotional videos from the three cities published by the IOC on YouTube two months ago:

2. Baseball/softball, squash or wrestling will be added for 2020 in a vote Sunday. The vote for which sport to include in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics became a major issue in February, when wrestling was dropped from the program.

In May, wrestling was given hope, along with a baseball-softball joint bid and squash, as the finalists for one available spot. Wrestling is still in the 2016 Olympics and the heavy favorite from the trio, so it’s likely the sport won’t miss any Games at all.

Baseball and softball were medal sports in 1992 (baseball only), 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 and cut from the Olympics beginning with the 2012 Games. Squash has never been part of the Olympics, though it made failed attempts for inclusion beginning in 2012 and 2016.

The sports will begin presentations (a half-hour each) at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The vote will be held from 11-11:45 a.m.

Sport previews: Baseball-softballSquash | Wrestling

3. A new IOC president will be elected Tuesday. Jacques Rogge, the current president and eighth overall, is stepping down after 12 years at the helm. These are the six candidates to replace Rogge:

Thomas Bach (Germany)
Sergei Bubka (Ukraine) 
Richard Carrion (Puerto Rico)
C.K. Wu (Taiwan)
Ng Ser Miang (Singapore)
Denis Oswald (Switzerland)

Bach, a fencing gold medalist at the 1976 Olympics and IOC member since 1991, is seen as the favorite. The election will take place from 10-11 a.m. — voting the same format as with the host city, so there could be multiple rounds — with an announcement due at 11:30.

Video: Messi promotes Madrid 2020

Russian skeleton stars banned from World Cups

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The two Russians who had their medals from the Sochi Olympics stripped because of doping have been barred from competing in World Cup races, at least temporarily.

It’s the latest sanction against Alexander Tretiyakov and Elena Nikitina, who had their medals — gold for Tretiyakov, bronze for Nikitina — taken away Wednesday after it was determined they were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program for Sochi.

They have already been banned from future Olympics and now may have no place to slide.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation handed down the suspensions Thursday, effective immediately.

Tretiyakov and Nikitina were both planning to compete in World Cup races at Whistler, B.C., this weekend.

In all, four Russians have been suspended by the IBSF.

Along with Tretiyakov and Nikitina, Maria Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna — who have been racing on the lesser-tier Intercontinental Cup Circuit this season — were also banned, just as they were by the IOC.

All four are expected to appeal, and the IBSF said they will be entitled to a hearing if that happens.

“Sport is all about who’s the best on that day and if anything compromises that, like the situations in Sochi, it taints everything and kind of undermines the fundamental belief in the system and the competition itself,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also is a vice president with the IBSF. “This is kind of righting the ship.”

The IBSF’s decision is a strong one and is in stark contrast to one made by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which is allowing Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping in Sochi to compete in World Cup events this weekend.

FIS wants to see detailed reasons why the IOC disciplinary panel reached its decisions about the Russian athletes.

The IBSF isn’t waiting.

“I understand that it was a difference of culture and that the Russians don’t believe they did anything wrong,” U.S. skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender said after the IOC decision to strip the medals and issue the Olympic bans was announced Wednesday. “But this was the only way to fix it.”

Uhlaender should be promoted to the bronze medal spot once Nikitina, as the IOC has ordered, surrenders what had been her bronze from Sochi.

Tretiyakov was the men’s gold medalist; the revised results for that event would have Latvia’s Martins Dukurs getting gold, Matt Antoine of the U.S. bumped up to silver and Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, Martins’ brother, taking bronze.

Uhlaender, originally fourth, would be third behind gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S.

Sliders lauded the IOC for doing the right thing, though noted that racers like Uhlaender and Tomass Dukurs — even once they have medals in hand — will never be able to replicate the moment on a podium that they should have had in Sochi.

“Having the physical medal’s cool, but most of it in my opinion is the experience of everything that happens,” Antoine said. “That’s what you cherish the most.”

Not having the top Russians on the World Cup circuit figures to have a major impact on the points standings.

Nikitina leads after the first two races of the season, including a win last weekend in Park City, Utah.

Tretiyakov is fourth in the men’s standings, including a bronze at the season opener in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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MORE: IOC sets date, time to announce Russia Olympic decision

Russian skiers banned from Olympics allowed to race World Cup opener

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics can compete in World Cup races this weekend because the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been unable to prosecute its own cases in time.

Six Russians, including two Sochi medalists, were retroactively disqualified from the Winter Games this month and banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC.

FIS previously blocked all six from competing with interim suspensions, but those expired on Oct. 31. The International Olympic Committee judging panel then reached its verdicts this month.

However, FIS said Thursday that its own judicial body lacks key IOC documents to process cases.

“Consequently, the FIS Doping Panel is obliged to wait until the IOC Disciplinary Commission reasoned decisions are submitted with details of the evidence relied on,” said the governing body, which is responsible for imposing competition bans.

“As a consequence the active athletes are eligible to compete in FIS including World Cup competitions for the time being,” FIS said.

The World Cup season for men and women begins Friday in Ruka, Finland, with sprint and long-distance racing.

Organizers had not published starting lists Thursday for the three-day meeting and it was unclear which of the six intend to start.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin both won multiple medals in Sochi but were stripped by the IOC. The others suspended by the IOC were Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.

FIS said rules governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency meant it could not re-impose interim bans without “a specific allegation” plus evidence.

Attempting to assure cross-country skiers they will not be competing against doped rivals, FIS said an additional and independent testing program for Russians has been in operation since June and has taken about 250 blood and urine samples.

The three-man IOC disciplinary panel — chaired by Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and member of the Olympic body’s executive board — has not issued detailed reasons for judgments in 10 cases from Sochi so far completed in cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Without positive doping tests, the panel used evidence of state-backed cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles in the Sochi laboratory first gathered last year by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.

At least 18 more Russian athletes are having their cases prosecuted in an ongoing series of hearings in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Wednesday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it would update “within the next days” action against four Russians, including the Sochi gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina won a skeleton World Cup race last weekend in Park City, Utah — a result which may soon be overturned by the IBSF.

All the Russian athletes disqualified by the IOC can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Dec. 5, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce after a board meeting if the Russian team will be banned from the Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang.

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MORE: IOC sets date, time to announce Russia Olympic decision