Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama

Vladimir Putin: No Olympic bets with Barack Obama

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Russian president Vladimir Putin and U.S. president Barack Obama will not be making any friendly wagers over the Sochi Olympics.

“No, we never make bets like that,” Putin told reporters in Russia last week (entire transcript here). “Mr. Obama also loves sports, I can tell, he looks fit, and he pays a lot of attention to it, not only by doing sports, but also to the development of sport. Practically all American presidents have made it a priority in their policy and taken effective measures.  That is why the U.S. team traditionally achieves very good and impressive results.

“We wish success to our American friends, to all American athletes. I know that a lot of people in our country, millions of people admire American athletes and truly sincerely love them.”

Putin was also asked about Obama putting gay athletes Brian BoitanoCaitlin Cahow and Billie Jean King on the delegation to Sochi.

“People have different sexual orientation,” Putin said. “We would welcome all athletes and all guests at the Olympics. At some point President Obama asked me to help make arrangements for a large U.S. delegation to come. His request was related to a limited membership of national teams, including both athletes and members of various administrative bodies.

“The International Olympic Committee has its rules, but we did the best we could. We found solutions to that, bearing in mind that the U.S. has traditionally had a larger delegation at the Olympic Games than other countries, they have a large team and many representatives. We complied with their request. So, I certainly will be glad to see the representatives of any countries, including the United States, there can be no doubts as to that. If they would like to meet me and discuss anything, they are welcome, I see no problems here.”

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WADA investigates report that 10,000 Chinese athletes doped

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BERLIN (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.

“The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese physician, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question,” WADA said Monday.

Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered “a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison.”

The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China’s national teams in the 1970s.

“In the 1980s and ’90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” she told ARD. “Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn.”

WADA said it will examine “whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades.”

The first step, WADA said, was for its “independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”

Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.

“One trainer came to me and said, ‘Doctor Xue, the boys’ breasts keep getting bigger,’” Xue said. “These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.”

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PyeongChang Olympic organizers downplay North Korea concern

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ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — PyeongChang Olympic organizers played down concern over ongoing tensions with North Korea and also say work has been completed on all venues for the Winter Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, said the International Olympic Committee has made it very clear that the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Speaking at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics shortly after the last rehearsal for Tuesday’s official flame-lighting ceremony, Lee said “there is no Plan B.”

Lee said South Korean officials are working closely with all relevant parties to ensure the Winter Games are safe and secure.

He said his main concern for the Olympics is the weather.

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