Sarah Burke

Memorial stickers for freestyle skier Sarah Burke banned by IOC

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The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that it has banned athletes from wearing memorial stickers for late Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who played a pivotal role in getting the ski halfpipe into the Sochi Olympics before her death in January of 2012 from injuries sustained in a training accident.

In comments relayed by Reuters, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said his group could help organize another event to remember Burke but that “the competitions themselves, which are a place of celebration, are probably not the right place to really do that and we like to keep that separate.”

“But we absolutely will support and want to help any kind of remembrance that the athletes particularly want to do,” he added.

Not happy with the IOC’s decision to ban the Burke stickers is Australian snowboarder Torah Bright, who talked about the matter a few days ago on her Instagram page and also hailed Burke as “a beautiful, talented, powerful woman, who’s spirit inspires me still.”

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Burke, a four-time X Games champion (2007-09, 2011) and the 2005 superpipe world champion, lobbied the IOC to add ski halfpipe onto the Olympic program. After an unsuccessful attempt for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, it was officially put in for Sochi in April of 2011.

Additionally, the IOC has sent a letter to the Norwegian Olympic Committee informing them that the black armbands worn by their cross-country skiers on Saturday was inappropriate (they noted that it was merely a reminder of the rules, not a reprimand).

The armbands were worn to remember the brother of team member Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. He passed away last week – one day before the Opening Ceremony.

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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