Paolo Bernardi

U.S. women’s ski jumping coach Paolo Bernardi quits

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Paolo Bernardi quit three months before he would become the first U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping team coach.

The Italian Bernardi, 41, had coached the U.S. team since 2011, the same year women’s ski jumping was officially added to the Olympics after a long fight to join men at the Winter Games.

A message was posted to Bernardi’s Facebook account last week, then deleted.

“I resign for personal reasons and it was a hard decision….I keep loving and following this sport and I hope to find another team soon that can give me the motivation to start again,” was posted, according to the International Ski Federation website.

Bernardi, whose family lives in Italy, “was forced to re-evaluate his situation” after he requested an international-based assistant and was not granted one, according to USA Todaywhich also cited “demanding travel” and “an all-consuming job.”

“It was the best decision for myself and for my team because our roads were not going the same direction anymore,” Bernardi told the newspaper. “After 2 ½ years eventually we are not on the same page anymore, and so I had to quit.”

He went through a tough season with the death of his mother in February.

“I did too much,” Bernardi told the newspaper. “When you drive one car at the highest speed possible for 2 ½ years, sooner or later you’re going to hit the wall and I’m really afraid I’m going to hit the wall. Before it’s too late I want to take a break and slow down.”

Bernardi helped guide the team’s star, Sarah Hendrickson, 19, to the 2011-12 World Cup season title and the 2013 World Championship.

Hendrickson tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee in an Aug. 21 crash but was walking normally two months later. She’s hoping to be ready to compete in Sochi on Feb. 11.

“She was looking forward to starting again with me,” Bernardi told USA Today. “We’ll see, I’m always available for her if I don’t find another job.

“She’s the kind of athlete who knows exactly what she has to do. When she gets back in January she’s going to be like before. I don’t see any problem.”

The ski jumping World Cup begins in Lillehammer, Norway, on Dec. 7.

Bernardi was known for wearing his emotions on his jacket sleeve.

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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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