Zinetula Bilyaletdinov

Russia Olympic hockey coach done after poor Sochi showing

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Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is finished as the Russian national hockey team coach, as expected after the host nation lost in the Olympic quarterfinals.

Bilyaletdinov told media he was ready to leave after meeting with the Russian hockey federation executive committee Wednesday, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation. His contract had expired Saturday, according to R-Sport.

Russian hockey president Vladislav Tretiak said there would be a search for a new coach without naming potential replacements.

“The Executive heard Bilyaletdinov’s progress report and liked it due to his careful analysis of games and the explanation of reasons for the poor performance of the team during the Olympics,” Tretiak said in a statement, according to Voice of Russia. “But the Executive naturally decided Bilyaletdinov’s coaching effort proved unsatisfactory, since the Russian team won no medals.

“We decided to thank Zinetula Bilyaletdinov for his work. He really tried hard, but unfortunately failed to attain the objective. The Federation is now negotiating the invitation of another head coach.”

Bilyaletdinov at first was opposed to leaving, according to Voice of Russia.

“But then I thought better of it and decided to tender my resignation,” he said, according to the report.

Bilyaletdinov, 58, led a Russian team hoping to win its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in Sochi.

But it stumbled after an opening 5-2 win over Slovenia, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout and needing another shootout to defeat Slovakia 1-0.

Russia blanked Norway 4-0 in the qualification playoffs but fell 3-1 to eventual bronze medalist Finland in the quarterfinals.

Bilyaletdinov had a memorable press conference with Russian reporters after the elimination. He said, among other sound bytes, “eat me alive right now.”

Star Alex Ovechkin has apologized for the team’s performance.

Bilyaletdinov, the Russian coach since June 2011, played for the Soviet Union team that won silver in 1980 (losing the Miracle on Ice game) and gold in 1984.

He also led Russia to a World Championship in 2012.

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MLB Players Association head says ‘continuing dialogue’ about 2020 Olympics

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SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association says it will be difficult for big leaguers to participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Baseball returns to Olympics after a 12-year absence for the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 — in the middle of baseball’s season.

“There are challenges with the schedule, and there are challenges with major leaguers being involved,” Tony Clark said Thursday at the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training camp.

In 2008, players on major league 25-man rosters and disabled lists on June 26 were ineligible to play. The U.S. roster included 17 players from Triple-A, seven from Double-A and college pitcher Stephen Strasburg, now with the Washington Nationals.

“It doesn’t mean that we are not continuing to have dialogue. We have going back. We will going forward. Where we land, I don’t know,” Clark said. “One of the things we were able to discuss during this round of bargaining were some additional flexibility in the schedule moving forward. Maybe there are some opportunities for a broader discussion than there have been a year ago. We’ll have to wait and see. We haven’t had that kind of substantive sit down yet.”

Many players are preparing for the fourth edition of World Baseball Classic, an international tournament launched in 2006 that is co-owned by Major League Baseball and the union. Clark hopes to see a fifth edition in 2021.

“I see no reason at this point why it wouldn’t,” he said. “I’m hopeful it continues, understanding that the world we live in four years from now may be different from the one we’re in now.”

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Lance Armstrong’s $100 million trial set for November

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 20:  Lance Armstrong (C) heads out with cyclists on December 20, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The disgraced Tour de France rider is in New Zealand to film a commercial, and put out a call on social media for local riders to join him on a ride along the Auckland Waterfront.  (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong‘s $100 million legal fight with the federal government has been set for a November trial.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Thursday set a Nov. 6 trial start in Washington. Armstrong’s legal team had asked to postpone trial until 2018 because of a potential scheduling conflict.

The government wants Armstrong to pay back the $32 million the U.S. Postal Service paid his team for sponsorship, plus triple damages.

Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis initially filed the whistle-blower case in 2010, accusing him of violating the sponsorship contract by taking performance-enhancing drugs. The government joined the case in 2013 after Armstrong admitted cheating and was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and 2000 Olympic bronze medal.

Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for cheating, could collect up to 25 percent of damages awarded.

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