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

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.

MORE: USA Gymnastics agrees to buy Karolyi Ranch