Elana Meyers

U.S. sweeps women’s bobsled in Park City (video)

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U.S. Bobsled has been stellar to start the season, but it’s never been stronger than Saturday.

The U.S. swept the medals in Park City, Utah.

Elana Meyers and Aja Evans won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 38.61 seconds, followed by Jamie Greubel and Lolo Jones and Jazmine Fenlator and Lauryn Williams, who tied for silver in 1:39.24.

It’s the first time since Feb. 17, 2001, that the U.S. swept a women’s bobsled World Cup podium, according to Infostrada. That was also in Park City, one year before the Olympic debut of women’s bobsled.

“The greatest feeling today isn’t necessarily the gold medal,” Meyers said in the awards area. “It’s the fact that the three of us [teams] are up here together.”

The U.S. Bobsled Federation mixed up the second and third sled pairings from Friday’s race, where the U.S. placed first, second and fourth.

The track and field Olympians Jones and Williams replaced Katie Eberling and Emily Azevedo, respectively.

Evans and Eberling are considered favorites to make the U.S. Olympic Team. Jones and the 2010 Olympian Azevedo are thought to be vying for the third and final push athlete spot.

“It feels great to be on the podium,” said Jones, who won her first World Cup medal of the season. “With bobsled you never know when you are going to be on the podium and how long it will be before you are back on again. It makes you cherish the moments when you are doing well. Our drivers are doing outstanding this year.”

The bobsled rookie Williams won a bronze medal in her World Cup debut Saturday.

“It has been really fun to learn this whole process,” said Williams, the 2004 Olympic 100m silver medalist. “I got on the line and said, ‘I don’t want to disappoint Jazmine.’ I’m a rookie and I have to do this.”

The U.S. Olympic Team will be named in mid-January. Push athletes are chosen via discretionary selections, though World Cup results play a role in the decision-making process.

Meyers took the solo World Cup overall lead with the win, moving ahead of Canadian Olympic and world champion Kaillie Humphries. Humphries finished seventh, her worst result in nearly two years.

The U.S. has now won five of six men’s and women’s bobsled races this season. The Park City World Cup wraps up with a four-man bobsled later Saturday.

The women’s bobsled World Cup continues in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week. The sled pairings are expected to be announced midweek.

“All in all, I feel pretty good going into the rest of the season because we have a lot of room for improvement,” Evans said.

Park City Women’s Bobsled
1. Elana Meyers/Aja Evans (USA)
2. Jamie Greubel/Lolo Jones (USA) 1:39.24
2. Jazmine Fenlator/Lauryn Williams (USA) 1:39.24

Oldest man to carry Olympic torch

Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
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Whistleblower Yulia Stepanova‘s hopes of competing in the Summer Olympics are all but over. Her fight to expose doping and corruption is not.

“It’s OK to lose a good fight,” Stepanova’s husband, Vitaly Stepanov, told The Associated Press on Monday.

They have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision, handed down Sunday, that denies Stepanova a chance at competing in the Rio Games, which begin Aug. 5. The decision, the Stepanovs claim, is based on incorrect information, including the IOC’s framing of Stepanova’s decision to become a whistleblower as a too-little-too-late desperation play made after the Russian team had cast her aside.

It’s a conclusion that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, disagree with; both recommended Stepanova be allowed to compete in Rio.

But Stepanov said he received several signals that the IOC would not go along, beginning with a general lack of interest from the key decision makers. He said that during the push for Olympic eligibility, he spoke with two separate IOC officials for a total of 90 minutes.

“I think what the IOC didn’t do is spend enough time to understand how big the problem is in Russia and how much covering up is happening in Russian sports,” he said.

Stepanova was the 800-meter runner who was entrenched in the Russian doping system but later came forward with details about the cheating. That triggered investigations that led to the banning of the Russian track team from the Olympics. After receiving more information about Russian sports as a whole, the IOC opted against a ban of the entire Russian team.

Part of that decision included a ruling that any Russian with a previous doping ban would not be allowed in Rio. That includes Stepanova, though the legality of that ruling is in question: In 2011, the Court of Arbitration for Sport invalidated the IOC’s Rule 45, which called for Olympic bans for any athlete who’d served more than a six-month doping penalty. CAS said it amounted to double jeopardy.

It was one of several facets from the decision handed down Sunday that indicated the difficulty the IOC had in finding the right balance between, as president Thomas Bach called it, “individual justice and collective responsibility.” There also were political concerns; a Russian official addressed the IOC executive board and told members not to cave into geopolitical pressure.

While Russia largely welcomed the decision, it was roundly criticized by those in the anti-doping world. The move to ban Stepanova was widely viewed as the worst part of the judgment.

“The decision to refuse her entry in to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Stepanov said his wife got a bout of the stomach flu on Sunday – making a bad day that much worse.

She was training for the Olympics, knowing that if she made it, she would not compete for a medal, the way she had in the past.

“Her goal is to participate,” Stepanov said. “In my view, she deserved to be an Olympian a lot more than when she was a doped athlete.”

But the odds are against her.

Stepanov said there is no money to fund an appeal to CAS, which would have the last say on her possible ban.

“Sunday was a day to cry a little, to get disappointed,” Stepanov said. “But today’s Monday. We feel we’re trying to fight for the right thing, so we wake up and start fighting again.”

MORE: Russian whistleblower denied bid to compete in Rio Olympics

Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

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