Lindsey Vonn eyes January return from her ‘most painful injury’

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Lindsey Vonn hopes to return to racing in January after severely fracturing the humerus bone in her right arm in a Nov. 10 training crash that was “by far the most painful injury” of her career.

In a recent interview with NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, Vonn said doctors at first gave her a conservative estimate of 10 to 12 weeks to return.

Then, after strong early progress following surgery, her doctor said it could be more like eight weeks until she’s racing.

“I normally heal pretty well, but you never know, so I’m just kind of hoping for some time in January,” Vonn said.

The four-time World Cup overall champion compiled a laundry list of injuries, mostly from crashes, in the last decade.

This one was different. Vonn is usually able to stop taking pain medication a day or two after surgery. This time, it took a week and a half.

On Nov. 10, Vonn lost an edge, did the splits, turned backwards, went off a little jump and landed on her arm and then into netting in Copper Mountain, Colo., weeks before her anticipated World Cup season debut.

“I could feel my bones hitting together and hitting the nerve,” Vonn said. “It was brutal.

“When I’m laying on the ground, I’m thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. How do I keep doing this? I don’t know. I’ve toned down my training. I’ve tried to limit my risk as much as I can, but unfortunately it’s a high-risk sport.”

Vonn’s spirits are lifted by two goals. First, to break the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is 10 victories shy.

Given she won nine races in an injury-shortened 2015-16 season, it was reasonable to think Vonn could have reached the record this year. Until that crash.

“That’s the record that’s really getting me out of bed every day,” said Vonn, who turned 32 on Oct. 18.

If Vonn returns in January, she will miss at least five of the 15 scheduled World Cup races in her best events — downhill and super-G.

Next season, Vonn will be older than any woman who has ever won an Olympic, world championships or World Cup race, except for Austrian Elisabeth Goergl, who won once at the age of 33.

“If I couldn’t ski anymore, that would be the only thing that would prohibit me from trying to break the record,” Vonn said. “I’m so close.”

The second goal is the 2018 Olympics. Vonn won downhill gold in 2010 but missed the 2014 Winter Games due to injury.

“If I didn’t have the records and the Olympics coming up, I might retire,” Vonn said, “but I still have a lot I want to accomplish, and that keeps me going.”

Vonn plans to get X-Rays every two weeks to see how the bone is healing and when she can return to snow. She has plans mapped out for best-, average- and worst-case scenarios.

More key races this season are the world championships in February in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and a downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic venue in March. Vonn has marked a date by which she is desperate to return.

“But that’s my little secret,” she said, smiling.

MORE: Bode Miller trains with U.S. Ski Team

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