Jean-Claude Killy, Gilbert Fell, Jean-Benoit Gauthier

IOC convinced there will be no discrimination at Sochi Olympics

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Russia’s law banning gay propaganda toward minors doesn’t violate the Olympic charter, and Russia is ready to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said Thursday.

“The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, color or other, on the Olympic territory,” IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean Claude-Killy said in French, according to The Associated Press.

Killy said he was convinced Russia will respect the Olympic Charter.

“That will be the case, we are convinced,” he said. “Another thing I must add: the IOC doesn’t really have the right to discuss the laws in the country where the Olympic Games are organized. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case.”

(An earlier version of The Associated Press story quoted Killy saying he was “fully satisfied” over Russia’s anti-gay law. The AP misquoted Killy and amended the story.)

Killy and the IOC Coordination Commission concluded its 10th and final inspection of Sochi before the opening ceremony Feb. 7.

“Our impression is unanimous, everything is very impressive,” Killy said, according to R-Sport. “Everything is almost in place, there are just a few minor things that have to be done, but those minor things, those details make a great difference,” he said without going into detail. “There are still a lot of things to be done.”

Killy, the triple Olympic Alpine skiing champion in 1968, said the commission deliberated for several days before reaching its conclusion on the anti-gay law, which was passed in June.

Killy’s statement agrees with what then-IOC president Jacques Rogge repeated in August:

“We have received strong oral but also written reassurances that there will be no discrimination for the people who will attend the Games in Sochi,” Rogge said. “We are going to inform all the National Olympic Committees and the athletes who want to have clarity that we are being comforted by the fact that the Russian Federation agrees to respect the Olympic Charter.”

In August, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets for a 2 1/2 month stretch around the Olympics.

Sunshine splashed Sochi on Thursday, a welcome sight after floods and mudslides caused a state of emergency in the Olympic host city. Killy said there was no damage and that a similar event in February would not stop the Games.

“I understand this is a historic event,” Killy said, according to R-Sport. “It would go unnoticed during the Games.”

No guarantees for Olympic luge course, supervisor says

Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
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Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova is appealing her ban from the Olympics, saying it was based on incorrect information and dubious legal grounds.

Stepanova sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee contending she never said she wouldn’t compete for the Russian team, as the IOC stated. The IOC would not make any exception for her to compete under a neutral flag.

She says the IOC’s ban of any Russian athlete who has previously served a doping ban is not permitted – a ruling the Court of Arbitration for Sport made in 2011.

Stepanova was an 800-meter runner who got caught for doping, but later came forward to expose the Russian doping system. She served a two-year doping ban before turning whistleblower, and is now living and training in the United States at an undisclosed location.

The IOC said Stepanova did not meet the criteria for running under the IOC flag and, because she had committed doping violations, did not satisfy the “ethical requirements” to compete in the games. However, the IOC added that it would invite her and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, to attend the games.

Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, recommended she be allowed in the Olympics.

MORE: Russian whistleblower denied bid to compete in Rio Olympics

Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

MORE: USA Gymnastics agrees to buy Karolyi Ranch