Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius was ‘heartbroken,’ ‘traumatized,’ says social worker

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Oscar Pistorius appeared heartbroken and traumatized one day after he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a social worker and probation officer testified at the runner’s murder trial Thursday.

The defense called Yvette van Schalkwyk as one of three witnesses to testify on the 28th day of the trial in Pretoria, South Africa. Van Schalkwyk provided daily emotional support to Pistorius after he fatally shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. She said he cried 80 percent of the time.

“What I saw from the first time that I saw him, from the first second, was a man that was heartbroken about the loss,” van Schalkwyk said. “He was in mourning. He suffered emotionally. He was very sorry about the loss, especially for her parents. … That was the theme throughout the whole period that I saw him.”

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.

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

Van Schalkwyk sat with Pistorius in his prison cell during his bail application last year. The runner cried and vomitted twice, she said.

“He missed Reeva so much,” van Schalkwyk said. “That was his words, the first words he said to me.”

In court, van Schalkwyk read from weekly progress reports on Pistorius’ mental state from March 2013, from when he was seeing a psychologist for “intense therapy,” she said, adding that Pistorius held a small memorial service for Steenkamp while staying at his uncle’s house, which left him emotionally drained.

“The accused is very heartbroken,” she read from the first of four weekly reports. “He still has a lot of emotion and stress.”

Van Schalkwyk said she contacted Pistorius’ defense team on Tuesday telling them she was willing to testify. She was motivated by reports that Pistorius’ emotional responses in court — including sobbing and vomitting — were an act.

Earlier Thursday, anesthetist Prof. Aina Christina Lundgren testified that Steenkamp’s stomach should have been empty when she died if she had not eaten in at least six hours before the shooting. Pistorius believes Steenkamp had not eaten within eight hours of the shooting. An autopsy report said she still had food in her stomach. However, the anesthetist said it was an inexact science and speculative to judge.

The final witness Thursday was ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans, who investigated the scene at Pistorius’ house beginning three days after the shooting. Wolmarans testified about Pistorius’ firearm, ammunition, bullet trajectory and Steenkamp’s wounds. He at one point asked the court if anybody had a firearm he could borrow to show how it worked, but nobody offered one.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday. The defense is expected to wrap its case by Tuesday.

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

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Vladimir Putin argues against tampered Sochi samples in latest doping denial

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. President Vladimir Putin says Russia will close its military base in Kyrgyzstan if the government of the Central Asian nation asks it to. Putin was speaking on Tuesday in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, as part of a Central Asian tour. (Alexei Nikolsky/Pool Photo via AP)
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In his latest denial of state-run doping, Vladimir Putin dismissed reports that tampering of Russian urine samples at the Sochi Olympics marked evidence of an organized doping program.

“Of course, and naturally enough, there is this issue of claims regarding scratches of some kind on some of the test samples,” the Russian president said Wednesday. “We do not understand what kind of evidence can we talk about because when we provided the test samples [to authorities] there were no complaints. If there was a problem with scratches of whatever kind, this should have been noted in the relevant reports, but there was nothing of this sort.

“In other words, these samples were stored somewhere, and we cannot be held responsible for the storage conditions.”

During the Sochi Olympics, doping samples of Russian athletes were opened and replaced with clean urine, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned independent report headed by Dr. Richard McLaren last year.

McLaren’s reports said that scratches and marks were found on the sample bottles upon further examination two years after the Winter Games, but the marks were not visible until microscopic examination. The samples were taken from a laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, where they were stored after the Sochi Winter Games.

McLaren’s reports said the conspiracy involved the Russian Sports Ministry, national anti-doping agency and the FSB intelligence service, the current version of the Soviet Union’s KGB.

Putin has denied a state-run doping system in Russia in the months since the McLaren reports. On Dec. 23, he said such a program was “absolutely impossible,” while also saying the nation has a doping problem “like any other country.”

“Let me say again, and we said it repeatedly, that Russia has never had, and I hope never will have, a state system supporting doping,” Putin said Wednesday. “On the contrary, Russia will only combat doping.”

While denying, Putin added that Russia needed to heed the McLaren reports’ findings, “despite the shortcomings in its work.”

“We must pay heed to its work and its results, and to WADA’s demands, because we need to acknowledge that there are established and identified cases of doping here, and this is a totally unacceptable situation,” Putin said. “What this means is that our existing anti-doping monitoring system has not worked effectively, and this is our fault, and is something we need to admit and address directly.”

WADA said later Wednesday it was encouraged by Putin admitting that Russia’s anti-doping system failed, calling it a sign of progress.

Putin noted that Russia is putting a new anti-doping system into place.

“I hope that we will no longer have any swindlers, who organize doping programs themselves and then flee abroad,” Putin said, intimating whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, whose evidence of Sochi sample tampering was supported by the McLaren reports. “I hope that our independent specialists and foreign specialists will help us to develop a strict and effective anti-doping system.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Another Beijing Olympic medal stripped as total nears 50

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Viktoriya Tereshchuk of Ukraine riding Walk This Way competes during the Riding Show Jumping in the Women's Modern Pentathlon on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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The tally of 2008 Olympic medals stripped moved closer to 50 after Ukraine modern pentathlete Victoria Tereshchuk lost her bronze for doping via retesting of her samples from the Beijing Games.

More than 80 athletes from the Beijing Olympics have been disqualified for doping, according to Olympic historians. More than 40 medals have been stripped.

Tereschchuk’s samples came back positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol, a common substance found in retesting that has led to stripped medals.

The fourth-place finisher in the 2008 Olympic modern pentathlon, Anastasiya Samusevich of Belarus, is in line to be upgraded to bronze.

The list of stripped 2008 Olympic medals is wide-ranging, in sports including cycling, track and field, weightlifting and wrestling. The athletes have primarily come from Russia and Eastern Europe.

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