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AP: WADA launching ‘extraordinary’ investigation of Jamaica drug-testing agency

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Jamaica’s drug-testing issues needed to be looked at in August, and it’s following up on those assertions.

WADA confirmed to The Associated Press that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) had a lack of testing in the months leading into the 2012 Olympics, where Jamaica won 12 track and field medals, led by Usain Bolt‘s triple gold performance.

WADA “is concerned enough to investigate,” the AP reported Monday. It wouldn’t be the first audit of Jamaica’s anti-doping.

“It’s an extraordinary visit,” WADA Director General David Howman told the AP, adding that Jamaica is “a high priority … they’re on our radar.”

WADA is unhappy that Jamaica hasn’t agreed to a swift inspection. Elliott said JADCO couldn’t accommodate the auditors at the date WADA wanted and now isn’t expecting the visit before the end of the year.

Bolt, 27, addressed the reports of Jamaica’s lack of drug testing before his final Diamond League meet of the season one month ago.

“It’s funny when I heard that they said they’re gonna ban Jamaica from the next Olympics,” Bolt said. “I kind of laughed because that would be kind of interesting to see.”

Bolt, who has never failed a drug test, was tested at least 12 times last year, according to the AP, citing track and field’s international governing body (IAAF). Of course, that includes tests outside of JADCO.

“Sometimes they will come like six times in one month and then you won’t see them for two months and then they come three times in one week,” Bolt told the AP a month ago. “So I don’t really keep track. I just get drug tested when I do.”

Seven-time Olympic medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic May 4 and hasn’t competed since June. Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell and 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Sherone Simpson said they tested positive for a banned stimulant in June.

In August, WADA said “serious issues” were raised in a report that Jamaica carried out one out-of-competition drug test in the five months leading up to the 2012 Olympics.

“There was a period of — and forgive me if I don’t have the number of months right — but maybe five to six months during the beginning part of 2012 where there was no effective operation,” Howman told the AP in Monday’s story. “No testing. There might have been one or two, but there was no testing. So we were worried about it, obviously.”

Howman told the AP that WADA expects to check out JADCO at the end of this year or early next year, to see if “what they’re doing is of significant quality.”

Jamaica’s most decorated female Olympic champion gets warning, no ban

Vic Wild finds much different welcome at PyeongChang

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — It was a feel-good love story about snowboarders that made Russia smile.

Four years later, Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina are still married and still riding.

But boy did this get complicated.

Wild, the American-born rider who now competes for Russia, finished out of the medals, same as his wife, at the parallel giant slalom Saturday, closing a sad chapter to a journey that began as a fairy tale but turned into a drama about cheating, doping and figuring out who was to blame.

It was a small part of a much larger story about the strained, scandal-tainted relationship between Russia, the Olympics and the rest of the world.

“For 18 months, the IOC never told me anything,” Wild said after losing in the round-of-16 in a contest taken by Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini. “No one would tell me if, somehow, some way, I was involved. That definitely put some gray hairs on my head.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com

How Arianna Fontana quietly skated into short track history

Arianna Fontana
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Arianna Fontana is silently one of the greatest short track skaters in Olympic history.

Her numbers at the Games speak for themselves; one gold, two silver, and five bronze. Those eight total medals make her the most decorated female short track skater by two medals, and tie her with legends Apolo Ohno and Viktor Ahn for most Olympic medals ever won by a short track skater.

But it is her numbers outside the Olympic stage that really call attention to her Olympic success. She is a 14-time world medalist, which is no small feat, but her podium appearances are spread over a 12-year competitive career. Someone like Elise Christie, for example, has won 12 world championships medals in just five years. And also unlike Christie, Fontana has never won an overall title.

But Christie struggled on the sport’s biggest stage in both Sochi and PyeongChang, and has yet to win her first Olympic medal. Fontana, on the other hand, has become such a consistent podium presence over the last two Games that she almost makes it look easy.

Before retiring from competition, Ohno won 21 world medals, eight of them gold. Ahn, still competing but not one of the athletes invited to competed at the PyeongChang Olympics as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, has to date has won 35 world medals, 20 of which were gold.

Fontana does not come from a short track power like South Korea or China, perhaps another reason why she is not more notorious.

Most of her medals are bronze, which could be used as a strike against her, but just ask Lindsey Vonn how hard she worked to get hers this year.

Fontana’s first medal came at the 2006 Torino Olympics, when she helped the Italian women to bronze in the 3000m relay at just 15 years old. Fontana earned her first individual medal, a bronze in the 500m, four years later in Vancouver.

But in Sochi, she exploded, making the podium in three out of four events: the 500m, where she won silver, and the 1500m and 3000m relay, where she picked up two more bronzes.

“I thought I was going to win a gold medal in Sochi but I still don’t have that,” Fontana said to the ISU in early 2017. “That’s there up in my mind and sometimes it comes out and says, ‘Hey, you still miss me? So come get me!'”.

But after the 2014-15 season, Fontana’s desire for gold was eclipsed by something else: burnout.

“I was pretty tired mentally. My body was ready to race again but my mind was not. It was hard for me. After the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, I had some doubts about whether to keep skating or not,” Fontana said to the ISU. “Maybe it would have been better to take that year right after the Olympic Games off, but I decided to keep going. It is not that I regret it, but I had some hard times that season.”

She stayed active during her time off, learning how to box, which eased the transition back to skating.

Her pursuit for gold was what motivated her comeback, and in 2018 Fontana got what she came back for.

“When I saw I was first, I was just yelling and started crying. I worked for four years and the last four months were really hard for me. I was really focused on getting here in the best shape ever,” Fontana said after earning the 500m Olympic title.

“I was chasing it and finally I got it.”

In addition to her 500m gold medal, Fontana also added a 1000m bronze and 3000m relay bronze.

Fontana has spoken about retirement, but has not made a definitive decision. She will only be 31 years old by the time 2022 rolls around, so she could feasibly add to her medal haul if she competes. What she has made clear is that when she does leave the sport she hopes to become a personal trainer.

Whenever she does retire Fontana should be considered not only one of the greatest Italian athletes or greatest short track skaters, but also one of the greatest Winter Olympians.