Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ version of events ‘impossible,’ prosecutor says

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Oscar Pistorius is lying about the events that led to his shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, said the chief prosecutor repeatedly attacking his credibility at his murder trial Thursday.

“Your version is so improbable that nobody would ever think it’s reasonably possibly true,” Gerrie Nel said. “It’s impossible.”

Pistorius declined an opportunity to respond to that statement from Nel.

Instead, Pistorius said items in his bedroom must have been moved by crime-scene workers to comply with the sequence of events shortly before he fatally shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius, being cross-examined for the second day at his murder trial in South Africa on Thursday, said a fan, quilt and curtains shown in a police photograph were moved.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder locked in his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing her inside. Nel claims Pistorius and Steenkamp had an argument and she “ran away screaming” before he killed her.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

On Thursday, Pistorius was questioned about his recollection of the night of Steenkamp’s death. He said he was lying on her stomach and fell asleep, then woke up in the middle of the night feeling hot.

“I sat up in bed,” Pistorius said. “I put my head down, my hands on my head and rubbed my face. Reeva asked me if I couldn’t sleep. I said I can’t.”

He said he then got out of bed without his prosthetic legs on, brought two fans inside from his balcony, closed and locked doors to the balcony and closed curtains. Pistorius has said he then heard a noise in his bathroom that led to the shooting.

Pistorius said Thursday he didn’t see or hear Steenkamp get out of bed and enter the bathroom. He didn’t know how or when she get out of bed.

“It was pitch black and it was behind me,” Pistorius said. “I had the fans blowing in my face.”

Pistorius said he didn’t know how many shots he fired — four — until somebody told him afterward.

“If Reeva had come out or spoken to me, I wouldn’t have fired,” he said.

Nel also questioned Pistorius about text messages with Steenkamp, including one that referred to a song by rapper Kendrick Lamar. Nel said Steenkamp objected to Pistorius playing a Lamar song on a car stereo.

A text message from Steenkamp stated, “You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amazing together but I am not some other bitch you may know trying to kill your vibe.”

“I don’t know Kendrick Lamar,” Nel said. “But what song are we talking about. … Is it, ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe?’ Isn’t that the song?”

Pistorius didn’t know which song it was but was sure Steenkamp would have taken offense to a song with those lyrics. Nel painted a picture of Pistorius as a sometimes mean, egotistical boyfriend.

“Your life is just about you — what’s good for Oscar,” Nel said. “It was all about Mr. Pistorius. That was what your relationship was about.”

Pistorius said he never got the chance to tell Steenkamp he loved her and detailed how his life changed after the shooting.

“For weeks afterwards I slept,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone. I stayed in my room. I didn’t converse with anyone. I didn’t socialize. … I didn’t have much communication. I actually didn’t even have my phone. The state had my phones. So I didn’t have numbers, and I didn’t converse with many people.”

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday with more cross-examining from Nel.

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Pressure on Ashley Wagner at world championships

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Ashley Wagner‘s four-year plan has her peaking in 2018, not at the 2017 World Championships, but many call Wagner to carry the U.S. women at worlds in Helsinki next week.

“Next year is the year that I am, like, in it to kill,” she said. “This year is maintaining. This year is my chance to work out all of the kinks, figure out where I want to be mentally going into next year.”

Wagner, the 2016 World silver medalist, is the only skater of three American women on this year’s worlds team with prior worlds experience. She is the only one ranked higher than 20th in the world this season.

Normally, figure skating is an individual sport. But next week, the top two U.S. women’s results must add up to no greater than 13 (Wagner places third, and either U.S. champion Karen Chen or U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell places 10th or better, for example).

If not, the U.S. will have two rather than the maximum three women’s entries at the PyeongChang Olympics. The U.S. had three spots at four of the last five Olympics.

Anything less than three in 2018 would mean the U.S. is not keeping up with world power Russia and maybe even Canada and Japan. And it becomes that much harder for Wagner and everyone else to make the Olympic team.

“I know that I have a huge role in these three spots at these world championships,” Wagner said. “I need to set this team up as good as I possibly can, so that way the pressure’s off the other girls.”

The others are the 17-year-old Chen, the surprise winner at the U.S. Championships in January, who then placed 12th at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that doesn’t include Europeans. Chen said she suffered from nerves, a flu and foot pain caused by broken boots at Four Continents.

And Bell, who took silver at October’s Skate America behind training partner Wagner. Bell, 20, finished sixth at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, where she competed with an amount of pressure she had never before felt.

Of skaters entered at worlds, Bell has the 10th-best total score this season. The skater with the 12th-best total in the worlds field is more than nine points shy of Bell. Chen comes in seeded 16th.

“The tough thing about this worlds is that we have two rookies going into a very stressful event,” Wagner said. “So these two girls are in a really tough position, and I really feel for them. It’s kind of like you have to buckle up and deal with this, and that’s like your only option.”

There is reason for optimism, should Wagner put up something close to the performance of her life from last year’s worlds, where she became the first U.S. women’s medalist in a decade.

“Success in Finland is getting onto that podium,” Wagner said.

But Wagner is nearing the end of her (so far) least impressive season in probably six years. She is seeded eighth at worlds by this season’s top international scores.

She failed to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011. She was beaten at nationals despite longtime rival Gracie Gold underperforming.

However, Wagner’s goal at nationals wasn’t to win, but to finish in the top three to make the worlds team. She called the runner-up result “perfect.” She focused the last two months on firming up the areas where she lost points.

“Even though to some on the outside looking in, it wouldn’t look like it was the most successful season for me,” Wagner said. “I think at the end of the day this season has been exactly what I needed it to be.”

The favorite in Helsinki is clearly Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost since November 2015 and can become the first repeat world champion since Michelle Kwan in 2001.

Wagner said she hasn’t watched any of Medvedeva’s programs this season.

“The only thing that I know about is her long program music is not my favorite piece of music,” Wagner said, alluding to Medvedeva’s choice of sound from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a 2011 film relating to the 9/11 attacks. The music includes, at one point, the voice of George W. Bush declaring that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.

But Wagner was effusive of Medvedeva, the latest in a string of Russian Olympic and world champions dating to the Sochi Olympics.

“She is a set bar that everybody is chasing after, and I think in years past that bar was always changing,” Wagner said. “Now it’s one set thing I know exactly the quality of skating I have to reach, I know exactly the technical program that I have to be able to accomplish.”

Wagner, a seasoned 25 years old, noted a key point this week. She is the only active women’s skater in her class, with her length of experience, who hasn’t taken a break.

Italian Carolina Kostner is 30, but she’s competing at worlds for the first time since 2014, following two seasons off. Japan’s three-time world champion Mao Asada is 26, but she took a season off after Sochi and this year failed to make the worlds team.

Wagner reflected on her world silver medal and her three national championships. She knows they mean nothing next week.

“I have to prove myself all over again,” she said.

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NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

More Russians retroactively disqualified from 2012 Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Three Russian athletes have been disqualified from the 2012 Olympics after failing doping retests, the country’s track and field federation said.

Hammer throwers Maria Bespalova and Gulfiya Khanafeeva and triple jumper Viktoria Valyukevich were all disqualified. None were medalists.

The disqualifications of Bespalova and Khanafeeva mean all three Russian women who competed in the hammer throw in 2012 have tested positive for doping. Tatyana Lysenko was the original winner, but was stripped of her gold medal in October.

Valyukevich, a former European indoor champion, was eighth in the triple jump at the 2012 Olympics and finished two places ahead of Russian teammate Tatyana Lebedeva, who has been stripped of two medals from the 2008 Beijing Games for doping.

In Tuesday’s statement, Russian officials didn’t say which substances were involved. The International Olympic Committee had no immediate comment.

It is the third time Khanafeeva, who won European championship silver in 2005, has been found guilty of a doping offense. She previously served bans in 2002 for a positive test and in 2008 for providing someone else’s urine in a drug test sample.

Bespalova is currently serving a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned steroid in 2015.

Since the IOC started retesting samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games last year, more than 30 Russians in various sports have tested positive. That makes them the largest group out of more than 100 positive tests. Seven more Russians have been disqualified for other doping offenses.

Russia has lost 26 Olympic medals as a result, most of them in track and field. Many of the cases involve turinabol, a substance which former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov has admitted supplying to athletes in a steroid cocktail.

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