Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong to be invited to testify in UCI, WADA doping probe into cycling

Leave a comment

The International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency investigation into cycling’s doping history, likely to begin in early 2014, will hope to involve Lance Armstrong.

“I would like to see Lance Armstrong come and give evidence, if he has any evidence in particular on the kind of allegations being made about him buying support or collusion from UCI officials,” UCI president Brian Cookson told the Associated Press. “If those things are true, I’d like to hear about it and I’m sure the commission would like to hear about it as well.”

Armstrong has said he could be open to testifying with “100 percent transparency and honesty,” if he’s treated fairly with others from cycling’s doping era.

“If everyone gets the death penalty, then I’ll take the death penalty,” he told the BBC. “If everyone gets a free pass, I’m happy to take a free pass. If everyone gets six months, then I’ll take my six months.”

UCI and WADA released a statement announcing their joint investigation from the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“They agreed the broad terms under which the UCI will conduct a Commission of Inquiry into the historical doping problems in cycling,” the statement read. “They further agreed that their respective colleagues would co-operate to finalize the detailed terms and conditions of the Inquiry to ensure that the procedures and ultimate outcomes would be in line with the fundamental rules and principles of the World Anti-Doping Code. Both Presidents pledged that their organization would work harmoniously to help the sport of cycling move forward in the vanguard of clean sports.”

The UCI and WADA have said that they don’t have the power to reduce Armstrong’s lifetime doping ban.

“He’s been sanctioned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the penalties he got from that have been accepted by the UCI and by the wider sporting world,” Cookson said, according to the AP. “And really it’s in the hands of the United States Anti-Doping Agency whether they would look at any reduction in that for any further information that he might volunteer.”

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach does not believe Armstrong’s ban should be reduced.

“I would not feel comfortable with this because it is too little, too late,” Bach told the AP. “It was not even a real admission.”

Armstrong has remained in the news since being stripped of his record seven straight Tour de France titles and being banned for life from all competition last year. He admitted to prevalent doping during his career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January.

He was stripped of his only Olympic medal, a 2000 bronze, in January but did not return it until September.

A documentary film, “The Armstrong Lie,” was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in September and has been released in the U.S. The film was originally supposed to be about Armstrong’s comeback out of retirement for the 2009 Tour de France.

IOC president’s thoughts on doubling doping bans

U.S. figure skating could have its best world team since 2006

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — U.S. figure skating has a shot at medals in three of four disciplines at the world championships in Helsinki in two months, which hasn’t happened in 11 years.

Before this year, the U.S. men and U.S. women hadn’t boasted simultaneous medal contenders in a decade. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek spent the 2010 Olympic cycle in the world elite, while the U.S. women faded. After they stopped competing, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold moved into the women’s medal field while the U.S. searched for a new leading man.

He’s arrived. Nathan Chen confirmed he is one of the world’s best male skaters by landing a record seven quadruple jumps between two programs at Sprint Center this past week.

The 17-year-old already made the podium in an event that featured the world’s best, earning silver at the Grand Prix Final in December. Chen struggled with his short-program jumps at the Grand Prix Final and attempted one fewer quad overall yet still outscored everybody but Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

Of all of the U.S. medal hopes at worlds, Chen may face the stiffest trio of challengers. Not only is there Hanyu, but also two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain, plus Japan’s Shoma Uno, all of whom rank higher than Chen in best total scores in international competition this season.

MORE: Chen believes Olympic gold is possible after U.S. title

Wagner, who shares a coach with Chen, did not have her best nationals. She finished second to surprise winner Karen Chen (no relation to Nathan), who has yet to factor internationally.

But Wagner said before and after the U.S. Championships that her focus was to peak for the world championships. The goal for nationals was to make the world team, which required not winning but finishing in the top three. Mission accomplished.

The concern with Wagner is that she hasn’t produced a world medal-caliber result yet this season. Her best score from the fall ranks her sixth among women going to worlds. But Wagner has shown in the last few seasons that she can pull it together for major events. There’s her 2016 World Championships silver medal, plus her three straight Grand Prix Final medals from 2012-14.

At worlds, Wagner will have to deal with a Russian trio capable of sweeping the podium, three strong Japanese skaters, plus the revelation of this season, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

VIDEO: Wagner passed Puffs in emotional press conference moment

The U.S.’ strongest discipline continues to be ice dance. Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second and third at the 2016 World Championships. They went one-two at the U.S. Championships this past week.

But two ice dance medals don’t appear to be in the cards in Helsinki. That’s because Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who earned gold and silver at the last two Olympics, came back this season after a two-year break.

Virtue and Moir broke international scoring records in the fall, sweeping their four starts. The two-time reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, also beat the U.S. couples at the Grand Prix Final.

The Shibutani siblings and Chock and Bates have never finished ahead of Virtue and Moir in competition. Neither has bettered the French since the December 2014 Grand Prix Final, either.

But all it takes is one dance medal, plus Chen and Wagner at their best in Helsinki, and the U.S. could go into the Olympic year in its best place since 2006.

MORE: Gracie Gold comments on split from coach Frank Carroll

Laurie Hernandez discusses life after Rio, new book on TODAY (video)

Laurie Hernandez
TODAY
Leave a comment

Laurie Hernandez‘s book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” is out Tuesday, and the Olympic champion gymnast stopped by TODAY on Monday to discuss its contents and life post-Rio.

An excerpt on Hernandez’s experience in Rio and the story of her floor-exercise wink to judges, is here.

On TODAY, Hernandez discussed another interesting anecdote from the book about tissues.

“Before Olympic Trials, we went out to eat, and I had a little breakdown because practice was really rough, and my routines weren’t coming the way I wanted them to,” she said. “This poor waitress kept bringing me over piles of tissues. … We were leaving, and my sister [Jelysa] told my dad, I’m going to save these tissues. I’m going to give them to her when she makes the team. I’m thinking to myself, you guys are crazy, this is not going to happen.”

Hernandez went on to finish second to Simone Biles at the Olympic Trials and make the five-woman Olympic team as the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s.

The family celebrated the achievement, where Jelysa handed the tissues to Hernandez in a bag.

“Even when you fell, you couldn’t believe in yourself, we were there for you,” Jelysa told her.

“So it was a really defining moment,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is away from gymnastics while promoting her book and touring with “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is expected to return to the sport at some point.

MORE: Hernandez explains 2017 goals: First date, driver’s license, Law & Order