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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

Ghana Olympic skeleton slider’s helmet: rabbit escapes lion

Ron Leblanc
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It’s called The Rabbit Theory.

That’s what Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first Olympic skeleton slider, calls his new helmet.

The one that he will wear in PyeongChang as the second athlete from his nation to compete at a Winter Games.

Frimpong, 31, tells an incredible story.

He said he was raised by his grandmother Minka in a one-room home with nine other children before joining his mom in the Netherlands at age 8 as an illegal immigrant and eventually moving to Utah.

Frimpong’s full story is here.

Frimpong’s life — before he converted from sprinting to bobsled to skeleton — was chronicled in a 2010 Dutch documentary tilted “Theorie van het Konjin” (translation: The Rabbit Theory).

“My former sprint coach Sammy Monsels talks about the analogy of a rabbit in a cage, ready to escape from a lion,” Frimpong said in an email Monday. “I am that rabbit, and I have escaped the lions [of my past]. I am no longer being eaten by all the things around my life.”

The helmet that he will wear sliding head-first down an icy chute in South Korea in three weeks draws attention to it.

The design is of a lion’s head with mouth agape and a pair of rabbits coming out. Plus the colors of the Ghanaian flag.

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MORE: Jamaica qualifies first Olympic women’s bobsled team

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USA Gymnastics leaders resign as more victims speak

USA Gymnastics
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — USA Gymnastics announced the resignations of three key leaders Monday while more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes.

The resignations of chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley were announced in Indianapolis while a judge in Lansing heard a fifth day of statements from women and girls who said they were molested by Larry Nassar.

“We support their decisions to resign at this time,” said Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, which is the national governing body for gymnastics. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.”

The board positions are volunteer and unpaid, but the resignations add to the months of turmoil. Steve Penny quit as president last March after critics said USA Gymnastics failed to protect gymnasts from abusive coaches and Nassar.

“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement Monday. “USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”

USA Gymnastics last week said it was ending its long relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, the Huntsville, Texas, home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. Some Olympians said they were assaulted there by Nassar.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nassar’s sentencing hearing continued Monday, raising the number of girls and women who have spoken to nearly 100 since last week.

“I want to you know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors — the whole army of you — I’ve heard your words,” Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her Michigan courtroom. “Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen.”

Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.

“Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?” asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes Monday. “You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you.

She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made.

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MORE: Watch, read Aly Raisman’s full testimony