Tatyana McFadden

NBC Olympics, U.S. Olympic Committee acquire media rights to Paralympics in 2014, 2016

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NBC and NBCSN will air 116 combined hours of coverage of the next two Paralympic Games — Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 — as NBC Olympics and the U.S. Olympic Committee partnered to acquire U.S. media rights.

NBC and NBCSN will air 50 hours of TV coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, beginning March 7 with the opening ceremony, continuing with daily coverage and ending with the closing ceremony March 16.

The networks will air 66 hours of coverage of the Rio Paralympics in September 2016, an increase of 60.5 hours from the coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics.

The USOC will provide live coverage of the Sochi and Rio Paralympics at TeamUSA.org, too.

“With the support of the IPC, USOC and leading corporate sponsors, we are thrilled to provide an unprecedented level of coverage for the Paralympic Games from both Sochi and Rio,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “We look forward to telling the inspiring stories of the athletes and capturing the compelling competition across NBC and NBCSN.”

In Sochi, NBCSN will broadcast 46.5 hours, and NBC will air an additional 3.5 hours. The Paralympic Winter Games span Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling and the new discipline of snowboardcross.

The USOC will add live coverage of all competition, including 72 medal events, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

“We are absolutely delighted to announce this two-Games agreement with NBC and the USOC as it provides more airtime of the Paralympics than ever before in the U.S.,” said Sir Phillip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee. “Following the success of London 2012, we said it was absolutely essential for the growth of the Paralympic Movement and the Paralympic Games that in future years U.S audiences had a greater opportunity to watch some of the world’s best elite athletes in action.

“This is tremendous news for sports fans, too, many of which will be able to watch a Paralympic Games live for the first time. I am sure they will be as captivated and emotionally enthralled as the billions around the world who tuned into London 2012 last summer.”

U.S. Paralympic star from 2012 shoots for Sochi Games

Olympic champion, Tour de France runner-up tests positive

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Samuel Sanchez, a 2008 Olympic champion and 2010 Tour de France runner-up, was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned growth hormone on Aug. 9.

Sanchez, a 39-year-old Spaniard, was due to race the Vuelta a España starting Saturday but is now out indefinitely until the conclusion of his case. That may include the testing of his B sample.

Sanchez denied wrongdoing, saying the failed test was a surprise, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Sanchez won the road race on the first day of the Beijing Games in a five-man sprint that also included Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who would win the time trial in 2008 and 2016, and Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck.

Two years later, Sanchez finished fourth in the Tour de France but was upgraded to second behind Schleck due to doping bans for original winner Alberto Contador and third-place Denis Menchov.

Sanchez also took the polka-dot jersey for best climber at the 2011 Tour and finished second and third at the Vuelta in 2009 and 2007, respectively.

Sanchez rode in the 2010 Tour wearing a special helmet honoring his Olympic title. He also got a tattoo behind his right shoulder commemorating the Beijing gold on Aug. 9, 2008.

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Victoria Azarenka may miss U.S. Open due to custody battle

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Olympic and Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka says her participation in the U.S. Open is in doubt because she might not be able to bring her son with her to New York as a result of her separation from the baby’s father.

Azarenka is “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away,” according to a post on the former top-ranked player’s social media accounts Thursday. “No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.”

The 28-year-old from Belarus gave birth to Leo, her first child, in December, then returned to the tour in June.

Azarenka’s post said that shortly after Wimbledon — where Azarenka lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10 — she separated from her son’s father.

“As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media, “which I’m not willing to do.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

“I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete,” was posted, “but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Azarenka was the runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, losing in the final each year to Serena Williams.

Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Wimbledon was Azarenka’s first major tournament in more than a year. She currently is ranked 204th.

“Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is OK to be a working mother — or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media. “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children. I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing.”

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