Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Past Soviet Olympic champions to hockey team: ‘Don’t let Russia down’

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How’s this for added pressure on Russia’s Olympic Hockey Team?

A group of 16 past Russian Olympic champions posted an open letter on the nation’s hockey federation website with a clear message.

“The whole country will cheering and fearing for you,” it read, according to an R-Sport translation. “In our time, we did everything for victory, we brought glory to the USSR, our people and our sport. Don’t let Russia down, guys! We are behind you and we are with you!”

Russia has not won an Olympic hockey medal since a bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and it has never won Olympic gold. The Soviet Union won all but two Olympic hockey tournaments from 1956 through 1988, and the Unified Team won gold in 1992.

The men’s hockey gold might be the most coveted medal for the host nation come February, just as at the Vancouver Games. The home-ice advantage will certainly help Russia. Neither Canada nor the U.S. won medals at the last two Olympics held outside North America (1998 and 2006).

Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak, the legendary Soviet goalie who was one of the group of 16, made an interesting comment about the roster deadline.

This would give Hockey Canada more time to gauge Steven Stamkos‘ return from injury and for the U.S., Canada and Russia to sort out their goalie situations, too.

Brodeur plays way into Olympic conversation

IOC will not enforce complete ban on Russia for Rio Olympics

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  Maria Sharapova of the Russia Olympic tennis team carries her country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic leaders stopped short Sunday of imposing a complete ban on Russia from the Rio de Janeiro Games, assigning individual global sports federations the responsibility to decide which athletes should be cleared to compete.

The decision, announced after a three-hour meeting via teleconference of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, came just 12 days before the Aug. 5 opening of the games.

“We had to balance the collective responsibility and the individual justice to which every human being and athlete is entitled to,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

The IOC rejected calls from the World Anti-Doping Agency and dozens of other anti-doping bodies to exclude the entire Russian Olympic team following allegations of state-sponsored cheating.

Russia’s track and field athletes have already been banned by the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, a decision that was upheld Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and was accepted by the IOC again on Sunday.

Calls for a complete ban on Russia intensified after Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer commissioned by WADA, issued a report Monday accusing Russia’s sports ministry of overseeing a vast doping program of its Olympic athletes.

McLaren’s investigation, based heavily on evidence from former Moscow doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, affirmed allegations of brazen manipulation of Russian urine samples at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, but also found that state-backed doping had involved 28 summer and winter sports from 2011 to 2015.

But the IOC board decided against the ultimate sanction, in line with Bach’s recent statements stressing the need to take individual justice into account. The IOC said the McLaren report had made no direct accusations against the Russian Olympic Committee “as an institution.”

“An athlete should not suffer and should not be sanctioned for a system in which he was not implicated,” Bach told reporters on a conference call after Sunday’s meeting.

The IOC also said Russia is barred from entering for the Rio Games any athlete who has ever been sanctioned for doping, while international federations will also analyze an athlete’s testing history.

In a statement, the IOC said it would accept the entry of only those Russian athletes who meet certain conditions set out for the 28 international federations to apply.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says that “the majority” of Russia’s team complies with IOC criteria on doping and will be able to compete in Rio.

The criteria are “very tough, but that’s a kind of challenge for our team… I’m sure the majority of our team will comply,” Mutko said.

Around “80 percent” of the Russian team regularly undergoes international testing of the kind specified in the IOC criteria, he adds.

Mutko says he accepts the criteria but adds it is not fair that former dopers from other countries can compete.

The IOC also rejected the application by Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, the 800-meter runner and former doper who helped expose the doping scandal in her homeland, to compete under a neutral flag at the games. However, the IOC added that it would invite her and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, to attend the games.

MORE: Russia loses Olympic track and field ban appeal

Leaks, electrical outages found in Rio Olympic athletes village

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Preparations continue at the Olympic Athlete Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as seen during a media tour of the venue on June 23, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Thousands of athletes arriving for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics could find major plumbing and electrical problems in their rooms at the Athletes Village with the games opening in just under two weeks.

The International Olympic Committee and local organizers held emergency talks Sunday just hours before the sprawling Athletes Village was set to open officially. The 31-building village will house 18,000 athletes and officials at the height of the games.

This is the latest problem to hit the troubled games.

In a statement Sunday, the Australian Olympic Committee says it will not permit any of its athletes to move into their rooms.

Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred says the building for his team has “leaking pipes, water leaking from the ceiling. We’ve got electrical problems. We’ve got cleaning problems.”

MORE: Ready or Not: Rio Olympics open doors at Athletes Village