Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold gets bronze at Skate Canada

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U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold dropped from first after the short program to finish third at Skate Canada on Saturday, her first competition under new coach Frank Carroll.

Gold, 18, hit a triple-triple jump combination but also fell during her free skate at Saint John, New Brunswick. She led by 2.56 points after the short program Friday and finished 11.58 points behind Russian winner Julia Lipnitskaia.

Earlier Saturday, Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek jumped from second after the short program to win the pairs competition with 193.92 points, .15 better than Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.

Skate Canada, the second of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final, concludes later Saturday with the free dance (4:30 p.m. ET) and men’s free skate (7:10). Universal Sports will have coverage.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will have Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4-6.

Gold failed to put together back-to-back strong programs, just as she did at the U.S. Championships in January and World Championships in March. On Saturday, she opened her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination but later fell on one jump and stumbled on another.

Gold’s score, 186.65, was 7.16 points lower than U.S. champion Ashley Wagner‘s total at Skate America last week. Three women will make the U.S. Olympic Team after the U.S. Championships in Boston in January. Wagner and Gold are the top two contenders.

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Christina Gao, a Harvard student who has been fifth at the last four U.S. Championships, took fourth with 173.69 total points Saturday.

Gao landed all of her jumps but was missing a triple-triple combination skating to the “Angels and Demons” soundtrack.

Gao and Agnes Zawadzki, who is entered at Cup of China next week, are thought to be the top hopefuls behind Wagner and Gold for Olympic spots.

Another American, Courtney Hicks, moved up from ninth place (last) after the short program to finish sixth. Hicks upset Gold to win the U.S. International Classic last month.

Hicks, 17, was fourth at the U.S. Championships in January and an injury replacement for reigning Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim at Skate Canada.

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, 17, withdrew with a hamstring strain after finishing fifth in the short program Friday.

In pairs, favored Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford fell to third after leading the short program. Skate Canada was missing the Olympic gold- and silver-medal favorites from Russia and Germany.

Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and Lindsay Davis and Rockne Brubaker were fifth and sixth, respectively, with scores far lower than the three U.S. pairs at Skate America last week.

Two U.S. pairs will go to the Olympics, where the U.S. hasn’t won a pairs medal since 1988.

Women
1. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) 198.23
2. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) 193.75
3. Gracie Gold (USA) 186.65
4. Christina Gao (USA) 173.69
5. Amelie Lacoste (CAN) 163.11
6. Courtney Hicks (USA) 162.00
7. Natalia Popova (UKR) 145.88
8. Veronik Mallet (CAN) 138.13

Pairs
1. Berton/Hotarek (ITA) 193.92
2. Sui/Han (CHN) 193.77
3. Duhamel/Radford (CAN) 190.62
4. Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) 159.82
5. Denney/Frazier (USA) 158.83
6. Davis/Brubaker (USA) 153.71
7. Vartmann/Van Cleave (GER) 149.59
8. Purdy/Marinaro (CAN) 131.39

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Vladimir Putin argues against tampered Sochi samples in latest doping denial

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. President Vladimir Putin says Russia will close its military base in Kyrgyzstan if the government of the Central Asian nation asks it to. Putin was speaking on Tuesday in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, as part of a Central Asian tour. (Alexei Nikolsky/Pool Photo via AP)
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In his latest denial of state-run doping, Vladimir Putin dismissed reports that tampering of Russian urine samples at the Sochi Olympics marked evidence of an organized doping program.

“Of course, and naturally enough, there is this issue of claims regarding scratches of some kind on some of the test samples,” the Russian president said Wednesday. “We do not understand what kind of evidence can we talk about because when we provided the test samples [to authorities] there were no complaints. If there was a problem with scratches of whatever kind, this should have been noted in the relevant reports, but there was nothing of this sort.

“In other words, these samples were stored somewhere, and we cannot be held responsible for the storage conditions.”

During the Sochi Olympics, doping samples of Russian athletes were opened and replaced with clean urine, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned independent report headed by Dr. Richard McLaren last year.

McLaren’s reports said that scratches and marks were found on the sample bottles upon further examination two years after the Winter Games, but the marks were not visible until microscopic examination. The samples were taken from a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, where they were stored after the Sochi Winter Games.

McLaren’s reports said the conspiracy involved the Russian Sports Ministry, national anti-doping agency and the FSB intelligence service, the current version of the Soviet Union’s KGB.

Putin has denied a state-run doping system in Russia in the months since the McLaren reports. On Dec. 23, he said such a program was “absolutely impossible,” while also saying the nation has a doping problem “like any other country.”

“Let me say again, and we said it repeatedly, that Russia has never had, and I hope never will have, a state system supporting doping,” Putin said Wednesday. “On the contrary, Russia will only combat doping.”

While denying, Putin added that Russia needed to heed the McLaren reports’ findings, “despite the shortcomings in its work.”

“We must pay heed to its work and its results, and to WADA’s demands, because we need to acknowledge that there are established and identified cases of doping here, and this is a totally unacceptable situation,” Putin said. “What this means is that our existing anti-doping monitoring system has not worked effectively, and this is our fault, and is something we need to admit and address directly.”

WADA said later Wednesday it was encouraged by Putin admitting that Russia’s anti-doping system failed, calling it a sign of progress.

Putin noted that Russia is putting a new anti-doping system into place.

“I hope that we will no longer have any swindlers, who organize doping programs themselves and then flee abroad,” Putin said, intimating whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, whose evidence of Sochi sample tampering was supported by the McLaren reports. “I hope that our independent specialists and foreign specialists will help us to develop a strict and effective anti-doping system.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Another Beijing Olympic medal stripped as total nears 50

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Viktoriya Tereshchuk of Ukraine riding Walk This Way competes during the Riding Show Jumping in the Women's Modern Pentathlon on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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The tally of 2008 Olympic medals stripped moved closer to 50 after Ukraine modern pentathlete Victoria Tereshchuk lost her bronze for doping via retesting of her samples from the Beijing Games.

More than 80 athletes from the Beijing Olympics have been disqualified for doping, according to Olympic historians. More than 40 medals have been stripped.

Tereschchuk’s samples came back positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol, a common substance found in retesting that has led to stripped medals.

The fourth-place finisher in the 2008 Olympic modern pentathlon, Anastasiya Samusevich of Belarus, is in line to be upgraded to bronze.

The list of stripped 2008 Olympic medals is wide-ranging, in sports including cycling, track and field, weightlifting and wrestling. The athletes have primarily come from Russia and Eastern Europe.

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