Zach Parise named as men’s hockey captain for Team USA

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The Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise was named the U.S. men’s hockey team captain for the Sochi Olympics on Friday afternoon. He is the youngest U.S. men’s hockey captain since National Hockey League players began competing in the Olympics starting with the Nagano Games in 1998.

“I was pretty thrilled the other day to get that call from [head coach Dan] Bylsma,” Parise said on Friday. “I am lucky enough to join a pretty elite list of players that have been captains for the United States…There’s plenty of guys that wear letters with their own teams. I don’t think our team is going to be lacking in leadership at all.”

Dustin Brown, captain for the Los Angeles Kings, and Ryan Suter, who, like Parise, is an alternate captain for the Wild, will serve as the U.S. team’s alternates in Sochi.

The Americans are looking to go one step higher on the podium after winning the silver four years ago in Vancouver, which saw the team captained by the recently retired Jamie Langenbrunner.

Parise, who was a teammate with Langenbrunner on the New Jersey Devils at the time, served as an alternate captain in Vancouver and scored the tying goal that sent the gold medal game against Canada to overtime.

Langenbrunner himself took over the captain’s role from Chris Chelios after he led Team USA in the previous three Winter Olympics (Nagano 1998, Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006).

Several of Team USA’s gold medal rivals have already made their choices for men’s hockey captains. Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will lead the reigning champions from Canada, while Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will captain the host Russians and Swedes, respectively.

American barista lacing up for Swiss women’s hockey team

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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