Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen: There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it

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Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was set to fly from a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital to one in Englewood, Colo., on Wednesday, 12 days after she severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Van Dyken-Rouen, who won six golds over the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, was in good spirits in a video from her hospital bed shared on TODAY on Wednesday.

“I just wanted to thank you guys and everyone who watches the TODAY show for all of your support, all of your prayers and positive vibes,” she said. “It’s definitely helping.”

Van Dyken-Rouen talked further, tearing up and explaining the extreme risk before her surgery less than two weeks ago, according to USA Today.

“[The neurosurgeon] told [husband] Tom and I to say our goodbyes,” she said, according to the newspaper. “There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it out of surgery. It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and basically said, ‘I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your life.’ I allow you to date, which was hard to say. To do that and then to be here now and to be with him is the most amazing thing.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has paralysis in her legs and broken ribs, in addition to the severed spine, according to the report.

“I’m excited to get to this new part of my life,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “It’s almost like a rebirth. I get to learn how to do everything all over again. I’m anxious to do that. It’s time to start so I can get back to Arizona and start my new life, I guess.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has provided updates over the last week on Twitter and Instagram.

For those who have been asking.. Here is the incision on my back. Healing fast! #PrayersAreWorking

A photo posted by Amy Van Dyken (@amyvandyken) on

“I will see you later,” she said, smiling. “Wheels up!”

Patty Mills, NBA Finals star, has quite an Olympic backstory

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing doping retest

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS named nine 2008 Olympic medalists among 14 Russian athletes, citing a Russian TV report, including eight medalists in track and field, with Chicherova being the superstar of the group.

“Perhaps it’s just a mistake,” Chicherova said, according to an Associated Press translation of a Russian TV report. “I can’t explain how my doping test gave a positive result. I’ve competed a lot since then and given hundreds of samples.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

“The Ministry of Sport is extremely disappointed to hear the speculation that Russian athletes are among those found to have violated anti-doping rules at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after re-testing their samples,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement through Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. “Any athletes found cheating should face corresponding sanctions.

“We have taken numerous steps to eradicate the issue of doping, and understand that the roots of the problem, particularly in athletics, go back to the past.”

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics

U.S. Olympic tennis player refuses to answer meldonium questions

Varvara Lepchenko
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Varvara Lepchenko, a 2012 U.S. Olympic tennis player, reportedly refused comment eight times Tuesday on a report that she tested positive for meldonium earlier this year.

“At the moment I have no comment on any of this,” Lepchenko said after losing her first-round match at the French Open, according to multiple reports. “I’m here just to answer tennis questions. If you have any questions about my match, I would gladly answer them, but otherwise, I just have no comments.”

Lepchenko, a 30-year-old who lived in Uzbekistan until 2001, was found to have meldonium at about the same time as Russian Maria Sharapova, a physiotherapist who worked with Sharapova said, according to Russia’s Sports-Express last week.

Sharapova announced on March 7 that she tested positive for meldonium in January.

Lepchenko didn’t play on the WTA Tour from late February until early May, withdrawing before the BNP Paribas Open in March with a left knee injury and the Sony Open two weeks later with a right knee injury, according to the WTA.

The World Anti-Doping Agency relaxed meldonium punishments in April, allowing bans to be lifted. Sharapova’s ban has not been lifted.

Lepchenko, who lost in the second round at London 2012, is ranked No. 64 in the world and will not qualify for the Rio Olympics.

MORE: Djokovic calls for rankings points at ‘arguably the fifth Grand Slam’