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Olympic champ among 5 Russian canoeists to get Rio bans

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MOSCOW (AP) — Olympic champion Alexander Dyachenko and four other Russian canoeists have been barred from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after being named in a recent report alleging a state-sponsored doping cover-up.

The International Canoe Federation said Tuesday that the five were mentioned in World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren‘s report last week, which specifically detailed how Russian state officials allegedly intervened to cover up hundreds of failed drug tests.

“This is a bitter blow for the Olympic movement and we are saddened that our sport in implicated,” ICF general secretary Simon Toulson said in a statement. “The ICF will continue its strong zero-tolerance stance and remove all athletes that contravene its rules in anyway … If you step out of line you won’t make the start line.”

While the International Olympic Committee refused Sunday to impose a blanket ban on Russia, it brought in new criteria preventing Russians from competing if they have previously served a ban or were implicated in McLaren’s report.

Dyachenko won gold in the men’s double kayak 200 meters at the 2012 Olympics in London. The four other banned canoeists are Alexei Korovashkov – a 2012 bronze medalist in the C2 1,000 meters event – Andrei Kraitor, Elena Anyushina and Nataliya Podolskaya.

Podolskaya rejected any suggestion of doping, telling Russian news agency R-Sport that “everything written there is pure lies.”

The ICF also said that Russia would not be allowed to enter boats in four events in which the excluded athletes would have raced. Austria, Germany, Sweden and Iran are in line to receive places instead.

Three Russian rowers have also been excluded, taking to at least 15 the number of Russians barred from the Rio Games by various international federations since the International Olympic Committee ruled on Sunday that Russian athletes had to face tougher selection criteria in the wake of the country’s massive doping scandal.

World Rowing said earlier Tuesday that Ivan Podshivalov and Anastasia Karabelshchikova were excluded because they previously served doping bans, while Ivan Balandin from Russia’s men’s eight was implicated in the McLaren report.

On Monday, swimming’s world governing body FINA ruled out seven Russians including reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova.

Russia’s track and field team is almost entirely banned from the games under an earlier decision from the IAAF, leaving long jumper Darya Klishina as the only athlete eligible to represent Russia out of 68 who were entered.

Legal challenges also loom for Russia. Efimova’s agent has said he is preparing an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the Russian Canoe Federation’s general secretary Irina Sirayeva said that the five banned Tuesday could follow.

“The intention to defend the athletes is there,” she told R-Sport. “We’ve spoken about how we want to defend them at CAS but now we need to go over all the information provided once again.”

On Tuesday, triple jumper Ekaterina Koneva – a former world championship silver medalist – told local media she was considering a lawsuit in civil court.

MORE: Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

Lindsey Vonn gets bad luck, Mikaela Shiffrin misses gate in super-G

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Neither Lindsey Vonn nor Mikaela Shiffrin made the podium, but Swiss Lara Gut notched her first victory Sunday since a major knee injury.

Gut, the 2016 World Cup overall champion who tore an ACL in February, topped a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, by .14 over Italian Johanna Schnarf.

Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer was third. Full results are here.

Vonn dropped to sixth, .37 behind, dropped a couple of expletives in the finish corral and posted on social media afterward that she caught her strongest wind gust in more than 400 career starts.

“I’m not mad; I’m just a little bit frustrated,” Vonn said. “Sometimes this happens in ski racing where the races aren’t really fair. The wind comes. The light comes. The clouds come. But I tried my best. I’m happy with my skiing. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t very lucky today. Hopefully I can get some of this luck and take it with me to February [and the Olympics] and get some better conditions.”

Vonn placed second and first in downhills in Cortina on Friday and Saturday, confirming she’s a favorite to become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist next month.

Shiffrin was off her line early in Sunday’s run and eventually missed a gate, screaming out of frustration.

She is still cutting her teeth in the speed events of downhill and super-G and was third and seventh in the previous two races.

“The problem was with my [pre-race course] inspection, and I’m not exactly sure what we can do for me to be better prepared for super-Gs,” Shiffrin said, according to The Associated Press. “One of my biggest issues right now is still switching from the timing of downhill turns to super-G turns.”

Laurenne Ross became the sixth U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for the Olympic team thanks to a previous top-10. Ross, the second-best U.S. speed racer behind Vonn last season, came back from blowing out her right knee in a March 27 crash.

The World Cup moves to Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday for a giant slalom, where Shiffrin will be favored (full Alpine season broadcast schedule here).

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2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team General Manager Jim Johannson dies at 53

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.

Johannson passed away in his sleep Sunday morning, according to USA Hockey. Executive director Pat Kelleher said the organization is “beyond shocked and profoundly saddened” by the loss of the Rochester, Minnesota native.

“As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet,” Kelleher said in a release. “His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s role in selecting this year’s Olympic team was his most high-profile job in a career spent in hockey. He also played for the U.S. in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

The United States faces Slovenia in its Pyeongchang opener on Feb. 14.

“There are few like Jimmy,” said Ron DeGregorio, chairman of the board of USA Hockey. “Our sport was so lucky to have him. He was as good of a person you’ll meet and he played such a significant role in helping move our sport forward. Today is a tough day for everyone.”

Johannson began working for USA Hockey in 2000 after spending five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans in the United States Hockey League. He was promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization’s efforts in fielding teams for international competition.

He played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the NCAA championship as a freshman. He was selected by Hartford in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, but never played in the NHL.

“When we heard of JJ’s passing, we are reminded of what an enjoyable person he was to be around, and also what he meant to USA Hockey and hockey worldwide,” Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who have a strong connection to USA Hockey, said in a release.

“We should all strive to do our jobs and treat people as JJ did. Jim Johannson, you have moved on, but you will not be forgotten. We will miss you.”

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