Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr, Petr Nedved headline Czech Republic Olympic hockey team

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The Czech Republic went back in time for its Olympic hockey team announcement.

1994 Canadian Olympic forward Petr Nedved was named on the 25-man team with the likes of Jaromir Jagr. Nedved, 42, was born in Czechoslavkia and defected to Canada in 1989.

So, Nedved will go 20 years between Olympics. That is a new record span for a Winter Olympian, via the experts at OlympStats.com.

If you remember 1994, Nedved was part of the gold-medal-game shootout with Sweden. He made one shot and missed his other on Tommy Salo. Sweden won in the seventh round as Peter Forsberg scored his legendary goal, and Tommy Salo stopped Paul Kariya

He played 15 NHL seasons, his last in 2006-07 and has spent his twilight playing years in the Czech domestic league. He played for the Czechs at the 2012 World Championships.

Jagr, 41, leads a squad announced Tuesday that has plenty of NHL depth but not nearly as much star power as other Olympic medal threats. He’s the last link to the 1998 Olympic gold medal squad.

The Czechs will be without NHL rookie sensation Tomas Hertl, who underwent knee surgery in December.

The nation was once reliant on goaltending during the Dominik Hasek era. The Dominator allowed two goals over the final four games en route to the 1998 Olympic gold. 

Olympic hockey rosters: U.S. | Canada | Russia | Sweden | Finland | Czech Republic | Slovakia | Switzerland | Latvia | Norway | Austria | Slovenia

Goalie is a position of weakness now. The Czechs are missing 2006 and 2010 Olympic starter Tomas Vokoun, who is on blood thinners after his blood clot scare.

The Czech NHL goalies have goals-against averages in the 3.00 range. Michal Neuvirth, who hasn’t played since Nov. 22 and requested a trade from the Washington Capitals, was not chosen for the Olympic Team.

The Czech Republic won bronze in 2006 and lost in the quarterfinals in 2010.

Here’s the full Czech Republic roster:

Goalies
Ondrej Pavelec — Winnipeg Jets
Alexander Salak — former NHL goalie
Jakub Kovar

Defensemen
Radko Gudas — Tampa Bay Lightning
Zbynek Michalek — Phoenix Coyotes
Michal Rozsival — Chicago Blackhawks
Ladislav Smid — Calgary Flames
Marek Zidlicky — New Jersey Devils
Michal Barinka — former Chicago Blackhawks player
Tomas Kaberle — former NHL player
Lukas Krajicek — former NHL player

Forwards
Patrik Elias — New Jersey Devils
Michael Frolik — Winnipeg Jets
Martin Hanzal — Phoenix Coyotes
Ales Hemsky — Edmonton Oilers
Jaromir Jagr — New Jersey Devils
David Krejci — Boston Bruins
Milan Michalek — Ottawa Senators
Ondrej Palat — Tampa Bay Lightning
Tomas Plekanec — Montreal Canadiens
Vladimir Sobotka — St. Louis Blues
Jakub Voracek — Philadelphia Flyers
Roman Cervenka — former Calgary Flames player
Petr Nedved — former NHL player
Jiri Novotny — former NHL player

Medals or mosquitoes? Zika still talk of Olympic golf

Rory McIlroy
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Olympic qualifying for golf ends in seven weeks, at which time players will have to determine if medals outweigh mosquitoes.

For now, there is only concern.

Rory McIlroy was the latest player to say Zika was in the back of his mind. In an interview with the BBC after his Irish Open victory, he said he has been reading up on the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects. McIlroy is engaged, and he said they might be starting a family in the next few years.

“I have to monitor that situation,” he said.

Masters champion Danny Willett was the next to weigh in. Asked about it Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship, the 28-year-old from England said he was keeping on top of it. Willett’s wife, Nicole, had their first child just 11 days before he slipped on the green jacket.

“It’s not great, is it? There’s going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it’s at,” Willett said. “If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic or to the little man, then I probably wouldn’t go. Family comes first.

“But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be OK.”

The Zika virus is in the news everywhere, which goes beyond the standard media outlets.

The International Golf Federation posted a two-page update on its website last month, and it is passing along Zika-related material from the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization to tours and player liaisons.

Andy Levinson, executive director of USA Golf, said Tuesday that updates from WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are posted in the weekly bulletins left in lockers and on the “Players Links” website, where PGA Tour players get other pertinent information they don’t want to miss – like tee times, and FedEx Cup points, and where to leave their courtesy cars.

Two weeks ago at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s doctor was in player dining for one-on-ones on Zika.

Vijay Singh made a passing reference to Zika last month when the 53-year-old Fijian decided not to play. Marc Leishman of Australia also mentioned Zika, and for good reason. His wife nearly died last year of toxic shock syndrome and her immune system remains weakened.

The other players to pull out — Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel — cited a busy schedule or family priorities.

Ask a player a question, and there’s bound to be an answer, even if it’s not entirely informed. McIlroy said he was planning to get “injections” on Wednesday so that “I will be immunized for whatever — if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus.

IGF executive director Antony Scanlon said he was in Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago for meetings and saw workers spraying “an unbelievable amount of anti-mosquito” repellant around the various venues. He also repeated the timing — August is the tail end of winter in Brazil, and mosquitoes are not expected to be as prevalent.

Scanlon said he was most curious by the silence from the other side — the women.

“If anyone is at risk, it’s the ladies,” Scanlon said Tuesday from London. “We’ve heard nothing from them. I’m sure they’ve got concerns. And we’re distributing as much information as we can to the players.”

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said as much two weeks ago during an Olympic news conference. He said five or six players have asked him about Zika, though none has said it would keep her from Rio. In an email Tuesday, he said not much has changed.

“They have been receiving regular updates on the topic,” Whan said. “No player has suggested she is not coming (at least not to me). But it is certainly a concern.”

It could be another example that the Olympics mean more to the women, who rarely get a stage as large as this and have a stronger tradition of competing for country in what was the first truly global tour.

Various headlines made it sound as though McIlroy and Willett might skip the Olympics because of Zika, and while their answers allowed some wiggle room, the context of their statements suggested nothing has changed.

At least not yet.

“We’re down to go and hopefully they can give us some proper guidelines as to how to keep it at bay and keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin what could be potentially a fantastic Olympics,” Willett said.

“Not as apprehensive as I once was,” McIlroy said about the Olympics. “As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.”

This much is clear — golfers currently eligible for the Olympics are having to study more than hole locations and wind direction.

MORE: WHO: Olympics OK to go on

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing doping retest

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS named nine 2008 Olympic medalists among 14 Russian athletes, citing a Russian TV report, including eight medalists in track and field, with Chicherova being the superstar of the group.

“Perhaps it’s just a mistake,” Chicherova said, according to an Associated Press translation of a Russian TV report. “I can’t explain how my doping test gave a positive result. I’ve competed a lot since then and given hundreds of samples.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

“The Ministry of Sport is extremely disappointed to hear the speculation that Russian athletes are among those found to have violated anti-doping rules at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after re-testing their samples,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement through Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. “Any athletes found cheating should face corresponding sanctions.

“We have taken numerous steps to eradicate the issue of doping, and understand that the roots of the problem, particularly in athletics, go back to the past.”

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics