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Steeplechase gold medalist among latest 2012 Olympic doping positives

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Yulia Zaripova, the Russian gold medalist in the women’s 3000m steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics, was among 12 more athletes sanctioned Monday after testing positive in a reanalysis of their doping samples.

Zaripova was among seven medalists — all from countries of the former Soviet Union — disqualified retroactively from the London Games after their stored samples were retested with improved techniques and came back positive for banned substances.

Also sanctioned Monday by the International Olympic Committee were nine weightlifters, a hammer thrower and a long jumper.

Zaripova tested positive for the steroid turinabol on a urine sample she provided after winning the steeplechase final on Aug. 6, 2012, the IOC said.

Zaripova was already expected to lose the gold medal over a separate doping violation prosecuted by the IAAF. She had previously served a 2½-year ban for irregularities in her biological passport. As a result of that violation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had disqualified all of her results from July 2011 to July 2013, including the London Olympics.

A three-person IOC disciplinary commission said in its ruling that a decision in Zaripova’s case “has already been issued and has become final and binding” and “there is no longer any interest to continue the present proceedings and to issue a decision.”

The panel recommended that the IOC implement the IAAF decision to amend the Olympic results and strip Zaripova of the gold medal. Under the revised results, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia takes the gold, with Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia moving to silver and Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya the bronze.

Other athletes stripped of London medals on Monday were: Alexander Ivanov, Russia, silver, men’s 94-kilogram weightlifting division; Natliya Zabolotnaya, Russia, silver, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Cristina Iovu, Moldova, bronze, women’s 53kg weightlifting; Hripsime Khurshudyan, Armenia, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Irina Kulesha, Belarus, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; and Anatoli Ciricu, Moldova, bronze, men’s 94kg weightlifting.

The non-medalists were Andrei Demanov, Russia, fourth place, men’s 94kg weightlifting; Oleksandr Dryhol, Ukraine, 34th place, men’s hammer throw; Rauli Tsirekidze, Georgia, ninth place, 85kg weightlifting; Margaryta Tverdokhlib, Ukraine, 26th place, women’s long jump; and Almas Uteshov, Kazakhstan, seventh place, men’s 94kg weightlifting.

The IOC reanalyzed more than 1,000 stored samples from the London Games and 2008 Beijing Games in order to catch cheats who escaped detection at the time. The new tests can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.

The IOC recorded at least 98 positive tests from the London and Beijing retesting program, with more expected in the pipeline. The IOC also plans to retest samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after the former Russian lab director said samples were manipulated to cover up doping by Russian athletes.

MORE: Two Americans in line for Olympic medals after DQs

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

“We are confident that they [potential replacement players] would choose not to play,” the U.S. players said in a statement.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

“We ask that they approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday’s meeting,” the players said in a statement. “Unless there is an agreement, the players remain resolved to bypass the defense of the world championship.”

Neither side has said when the next meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set