Michael Phelps tribute at Golden Goggles (video)

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NEW YORK — Michael Phelps looked out into a Times Square hotel ballroom, filled with many athletes whom he inspired, and delivered an acceptance speech for an award honoring his impact on swimming.

The 23-time Olympic champion held a smartphone in his right hand and occasionally peered at it as he again thanked the most important people in his life. His voiced cracked.

Phelps reflected, again, on his stated goal when he turned professional at age 16 in 2001: to change the sport of swimming.

He saw a room full of swimmers at the Golden Goggle Awards. The annual event debuted in 2004, shortly after Phelps won his first eight medals in Athens and three years before the iPhone.

“We’ve done it, look at this,” Phelps said. “2000, this never would have happened. 1996, never would have happened.”

Phelps won three Golden Goggle Awards on Monday night. He acknowledged that they would be his final three, but that stated goal from 16 year ago remains.

“There’s a lot more change that can be done to make this even bigger,” Phelps said not of the awards show but of the sport’s growth. “I’m so excited and looking forward to that opportunity.”

Former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol presented the Impact award to Phelps.

Ebersol acknowledged four people who impacted Phelps’ life — mother Debbie Phelps, coach Bob Bowman, agent Peter Carlisle and wife Nicole Phelps.

“I was lucky enough at the forefront of American media covering the Olympics, from the mid-’90s until almost London, and if there was one person that defined that entire era, it was Michael,” Ebersol said. “We followed him from the time he was a 15-year-old in Sydney, on and on through the incredible performance in Athens to the miraculous performance in [Beijing] to the, really, mind-boggling thing of him, probably only half-prepared, still winning gold medals in London and then the glorious finish to the greatest career in Olympic history by any athlete in Rio.

“Michael’s whole run was something that everybody in America got to share.”

Before Phelps exited the stage one last time, he offered these final words:

“I will always be here. Anything you guys ever need, please, let me know, if I can ever help.”

MORE: Phelps makes retirement official

IOC president wants life bans for Russian cheats

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 16: IOC President Thomas Bach closing remarks during the fourth day of the 21st ANOC General Assembly at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 16, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for ANOC)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian athletes and officials who are proven to have been part of a doping “manipulation system” should be banned for life from the Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach said Thursday.

Bach gave his personal view one day before Canadian investigator Richard McLaren publishes a final report into alleged state-backed cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Proof of systematic doping would be “aggravated circumstances” to justify life bans, the IOC leader said at a news conference after a three-day executive board meeting.

“I would not like to see this person again at any Olympic Games in any function,” Bach said, noting that as an IOC disciplinary commission chairman he approved life bans for Austrian team members implicated in doping at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.

However, proving that individual athletes knew of systematic doping involving state agencies could be difficult.

McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in May, is expected to give more detail about cheating operations at the Sochi laboratory.

In his interim report in July, McLaren confirmed claims by former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov of a hole-in-the-wall swapping system aided by the FSB security agency to exchange athletes’ dirty urine samples for clean ones.

Earlier Thursday, the IOC member appointed to oversee disciplinary cases that arise from McLaren’s evidence acknowledged they could be tough to prove.

“Can you prove (athletes) were aware?” Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer, said on the sidelines of a sports law conference in Geneva.

“It is not that we would be scared to attack high level people in the Russian regime,” the Swiss lawyer said. “The question is more on the legal point of view. Can you punish athletes if they have done nothing and whether they were not aware of what was happening?”

Bach has also appointed a second IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland president Samuel Schmid, to evaluate if McLaren’s report and evidence proves a state-run doping system.

“And then based on that we will see if we can start cases against athletes,” Oswald said.

Meanwhile, United States lawmakers want Bach to attend a congressional committee hearing next Thursday to provide an update on sports’ fight against doping.

“Unfortunately I cannot attend there,” said Bach, adding that the IOC will “provide by other means all the information they may need.”

MORE: Russia sets 2018 Olympics medal target

IOC president doesn’t rule out awarding 2028 Olympic host in 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: The Olympic Flag waves as part of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach says he wants to change the Olympic host city bidding procedure because it “produces too many losers.”

Bach’s comments came on the same day the IOC executive board cleared all three candidate cities for the 2024 Olympics — Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary — to advance to the next stage of the race.

Bach did not categorically rule out the possibility of awarding the hosting rights for two games at once — 2024 and 2028 — when the IOC votes next September in Lima, Peru.

Bach said at a news conference “it is not the purpose of an Olympic candidature procedure to produce losers.”

He said the goal is “to produce the best possible host for an Olympic Games.”

Asked about speculation the IOC could award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time, he said: “Let us study this question, which is not an easy one.”

VIDEO: LA 2024 Olympic bid venue plan