Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin: New Year’s for Sochi workers comes after Olympics

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Sochi Olympic preparations take priority over holiday celebrations, Russian president Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

“We have the New Year and Christmas holidays ahead of us,” Putin said on TV, according to Agence France-Presse. “I’d like to say, I think it should be clear that for you, New Year’s will come … on March 18. For you and for everyone who is working on the Olympic venues.

“Everyone working on this massive, grandiose project must understand this.”

New Year’s appears to be more celebrated in Russia than in the U.S. From Reuters:

Russia comes to a virtual standstill between December 31 and January 8, with the main family celebrations on New Year’s Eve, a tradition that dates to the Soviet Communist era. Many Russians now also celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January 7.

Putin declared the Olympic ski jumping venue fully ready on Wednesday, but there is still work to be done before the Games begin Feb. 6. Fisht Stadium, home to the Opening Ceremony, has not yet been opened and will be inspected by Putin on Friday, according to Reuters.

“It is not only evident to us, but to all observers too, that tremendous, high-quality work has been done,” Putin told Olympic organizers, according to Reuters. “There are things that need to be accomplished, perfected at the final stage.”

Video: Sochi torchbearer’s sleeve catches fire from Olympic flame

Inside Liang Chow’s gymnastics center (video)

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Liang Chow, former coach of 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas, hopes to return to the Games with a new gymnast in Rio.

Chow’s current group includes three recent members of U.S. junior and senior national teams — Norah FlatleyRachel Gowey and Victoria Nguyen (who is too young for Rio).

However, none of the 14 current U.S. senior national team members train under Chow. Ultimately, the five-woman U.S. Olympic team will be named in July.

In the above NBC News profile, Chow discusses immigrating to the U.S. from China in 1991 and opening his gym in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Plus, Flatley, Gowey and Nguyen discuss being coached by Chow.

PHOTOS: Simone Biles gets her own cereal box

Whistleblower: Four Russian Olympic champs in Sochi were on steroids

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Four Russians who won gold medals at the Sochi Olympics were on steroids at the time, a whistleblower who previously provided evidence of Russian track and field doping said, according to CBSNews.com.

The report doesn’t name the athletes or their sports. Nor does it say any of the athletes failed drug tests.

A “60 Minutes” piece on Russian doping will air Sunday on CBS between 7 and 8 p.m. ET. An excerpt will air on CBS Evening News on Friday between 6:30 and 7 ET.

The whistleblower is Vitaly Stepanov, a former Russian anti-doping official who, along with wife and former Russian 800m runner Yulia Stepanova, provided a 2014 German TV documentary undercover footage and evidence of Russian track and field doping.

Russia’s track and field federation was banned from competition in November. The suspension could last through the Rio Olympics.

The “60 Minutes” report cites Stepanov learning of Russian cheating at the Sochi Olympics from Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of a Moscow drug-testing lab that was stripped of its accreditation by the World Anti-Doping Agency in April.

In a November WADA independent commission report, Rodchenkov was alleged to have requested and accepted money to conceal positive drug tests. He immediately resigned.

MORE: Russia track and field Olympic fate gets decision date