Olympic Torch

Sochi Olympic torch relay: by the numbers

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The Sochi 2014 Olympic torch relay officially began in Moscow on Monday, commencing a record-breaking odyssey through Russia and beyond.

Here’s how the Olympic flame will go from Moscow to Sochi for the lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony Feb. 7, by the numbers:

123 — days
40,000+ — miles (Olympic Winter Games torch relay record)
15,817 — miles by airplane
12,597 — miles by car
11,016 — miles by train
1,402 — miles by helicopter
.6 — miles by deer
14,000+ — torchbearers
83 — regions of Russia

The torch relay will visit the North Pole (from Oct. 30 stop in Murmansk), outer space (International Space Station, blast off Nov. 7), the bottom of the world’s largest freshwater lake (November) and the top of Europe’s highest mountain (February).

Here are photos from the flame’s trip through Moscow:

source: AP
Two-time Olympic track champion Svetlana Masterkova. (AP)
source: Getty Images
Seven-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Svetlana Khorkina. (Getty Images)
source: Reuters
Five-time Olympic bobsledder and IOC member Prince Albert II. (Reuters)
source: AP
(AP)
Vladimir Zeldin
Vladimir Zeldin, a 98-year-old actor, was the oldest torchbearer Monday. (AP)
source: Getty Images
Russian president Vladimir Putin lights a torch in a Red Square ceremony Sunday. (Getty Images)
source: Reuters
Retired finswimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan sees the flame extinguish and finds a man with a cigarette lighter to reignite it Sunday. (Reuters)

Photos: Olympic flame visits ancient Athens sites

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