Alexander Zubkov
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Russian Olympic champions named on Sochi doping list, report says

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Sochi Olympic champions Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voyevoda (bobsled), Alexander Legkov (cross-country skiing) and Alexander Tretiakov (skeleton) were among dozens of Russian athletes, including 15 Sochi medalists, who were on a state-run doping program leading into those Winter Games, according to The New York Times.

The names on a doping list won one-third of Russia’s leading 33 medals at the Sochi Games, according to the report. The report cited Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of a Moscow drug-testing lab that was stripped of its accreditation by the World Anti-Doping Agency in April.

A “Sochi list” of Russian athletes on a pre-Games doping program was first reported by CBS last week, based on Rodchenkov through a whistleblower who previously provided evidence of Russian track and field doping.

The CBS report said four unnamed Russian Olympic champions were among the athletes on the list.

The New York Times report named the two- and four-man bobsled champion Zubkov, the 50km cross-country skiing champion Legkov and the skeleton champion Tretiakov. Plus another bobsledder who won two gold medals. Zubkov and Voyevoda were the only bobsledders to win two golds in Sochi.

The entire Russian women’s hockey team that finished sixth and 14 Russian cross-country skiers overall were involved, according to the report.

None of the athletes failed drug tests. How did they make it through Winter Games clean? From the Times:

In a dark-of-night operation, Russian antidoping experts and members of the intelligence services surreptitiously replaced urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected months earlier, somehow breaking into the supposedly tamper-proof bottles that are the standard at international competitions, Dr. Rodchenkov said. For hours each night, they worked in a shadow laboratory lit by a single lamp, passing bottles of urine through a hand-size hole in the wall, to be ready for testing the next day, he said.

By the end of the Games, Dr. Rodchenkov estimated, as many as 100 dirty urine samples were expunged.

Several Russian sports federations denied any wrongdoing by the athletes, according to the report.

Zubkov, Russia’s flag bearer at the Sochi Opening Ceremony, retired after sweeping the bobsled titles in Sochi as a driver. Voyevoda, a push athlete on the two- and four-man sleds, reportedly announced his retirement in 2015. American Steven Holcomb drove bobsleds that earned bronze medals behind Zubkov in the two Sochi Olympic events.

Legkov, who earned individual gold and relay silver in Sochi, continued to compete in cross-country skiing the last two seasons with no individual World Cup or World Championships wins.

Tretiakov also won silver medals at the 2015 and 2016 World Skeleton Championships. American Matthew Antoine earned bronze behind Tretiakov and Latvian Martins Dukurs at the Olympics.

MORE: Russia track, anti-doping changes ‘just fake’ so far, whistleblower says

Lindsey Vonn wins 79th World Cup race as oldest downhill victor (video)

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Lindsey Vonn became the oldest woman to win a World Cup downhill with three weeks until the Olympics, notching her 79th career victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday.

In PyeongChang, she can become the oldest female Alpine medalist in Olympic history.

Vonn prevailed by .92 of a second over Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather on Saturday, moving seven shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record of 86 World Cup victories.

“My focus right now is just so much on Olympics that I haven’t really thought about [the record] that much this season,” Vonn said. “After the Olympics, that will be my No. 1 priority again, and I’ll try to just rack up as many wins before I retire as possible.”

American Jackie Wiles was third to become the fifth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for PyeongChang, joining Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, among others. (full U.S. Olympic roster here)

Shiffrin was seventh in Saturday’s race in her least comfortable discipline.

Full results are here.

Vonn, 33, broke Austrian Elisabeth Goergl‘s record as the oldest woman to win a World Cup downhill. Goergl is still the oldest winner for any World Cup race, taking a super-G in 2014 at nearly 34 years old.

Vonn, already an Olympic medal favorite in downhill and super-G, won her first downhill since Jan. 21, 2017.

She had raced eight downhills in between with four podium finishes, including taking second to Italian Sofia Goggia on Friday in Cortina. Goggia failed to finish Saturday.

The World Cup continues with a super-G in Cortina on Sunday (5:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

“Mentally, I feel like it’s the first podium I ever got,” Vonn said. “Back in 2004, I feel the same. I have the same motivation, the same drive, the same excitement. I love going fast. That’s never changed. The only thing that’s changed is my body is not as good as it once was, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still win.

“I’ll keep going until my poor little knee gives out.”

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IOC approves unified Korea Olympic team, 22 North Korean athletes

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North and South Korean athletes will compete on the same team at the Olympics for the first time, while the IOC approved 22 North Koreans to compete overall in PyeongChang.

The IOC on Saturday approved the Koreas’ agreement to field a unified women’s hockey team and to march together in the Opening Ceremony behind the Korean Unification flag.

Twelve North Koreans have been added to the South Korean women’s hockey team. The other North Korean athletes will compete in figure skating, Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and short track speed skating.

Full details are here.

“Today marks a milestone on a long journey,” IOC president Thomas Bach said. “Since 2014, the IOC has addressed the special situation of having the Olympic Winter Games 2018 on the Korean Peninsula. Until today, we met separately with the parties on a bilateral basis to address an often fast-changing political situation in a comprehensive way. Today is therefore a great day because the Olympic Spirit has brought all sides together. This was not an easy journey.”

At the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9, one North Korean and one South Korean will carry the flag in the Parade of Nations. The Koreas previously marched together at the Opening Ceremonies in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

The hockey team will compete as “Korea,” under the unification flag and using the song “Arirang” as its anthem. North Koreans will compete under their own flag in all other sports.

North Korea did not qualify any spots for the Olympics, but the IOC had power to offer special invitations.

“Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago,” Bach said. “The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula.”

The 22 North Korean athletes mark more North Koreans at a Winter Olympics than the last six Winter Games combined.

North Korea had zero athletes in 2014 and two in 2010.

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MORE: South Korea Olympic hockey rosters have North American flavor