U.S. Figure Skating president: Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang Olympics

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KANSAS CITY — U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier said Russia shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics due its ongoing doping scandal.

“I don’t think they should be able to,” Auxier said at the U.S. Championships on Thursday. “I mean, it’s state-sponsored. It was a huge program, well-coordinated to cheat, and they should pay a pretty stiff penalty. And I think the only way the IOC and the ISU maintain any level of integrity is to take a strong stand and weigh a strong penalty for those actions.”

In December, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commissioned report by investigator Richard McLaren accused Russia of a widespread doping cover-up at the Sochi Winter Olympics, including urine-sample swapping.

No Russian figure skaters have been announced as suspended in relation to the Russian doping reports, though Russian athletes in other sports have been banned. Some bans were lifted due to a lack of evidence.

The International Skating Union (ISU) said on Dec. 9 that “if and when there are sufficient elements and evidence to pursue anti-doping rule violations, the ISU will not hesitate to open disciplinary proceedings against bodies or persons subject to infringements.”

On Dec. 23, the International Olympic Committee said 28 Russian athletes faced doping cases in relation to the Sochi Winter Olympics but did not name names.

“At this point it’s really out of our control,” Auxier said Thursday. “It’s up to WADA and the people doing the analysis, and then the ISU will have to decide what type of penalty they will weigh against that, given the evidence.

“It’s important to us that the ISU take a strong stand against doping in making sure our athletes, who are all clean, compete against athletes who are clean. We are very focused on what the decision is and what steps the ISU will take, and we’ll exert any influence we’re able to.”

U.S. Figure Skating executive director David Raith said the federation is “a highly motivated, highly interested bystander in that to see what the ISU and the IOC do.”

Russia had the best figure skating team at the Sochi Winter Olympics and continues to be a world power. It boasts reigning Olympic champions in the women’s and pairs events and the last two women’s world champions.

In Sochi, Russian Adelina Sotnikova earned gold in the women’s event.

American Gracie Gold finished fourth in Sochi and was asked last week her thoughts if Sotnikova, who hasn’t been implicated publicly by an official body, were to be stripped of her medals. That would move Gold up to bronze in the singles event and, potentially, silver in the team event.

“As far as I know, everything is still under investigation, so I can’t really speak,” Gold said. “It certainly is causing some headlines, though. … I competed against Adelina for many years. I loved her. I think she’s still a sweetheart. A lot of the Russians, I’ve found them all to be lovely people, despite maybe what other people [say] their stigma. … I don’t feel like anyone could suspect something so widespread.”

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Joseph Schooling eyes Michael Phelps’ world record at world champs

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Shortly after Joseph Schooling upset Michael Phelps in the Rio Olympic 100m butterfly, the Singapore swimmer made his next goal quite clear.

Take Phelps’ 100m butterfly world record.

Schooling repeated that claim after returning to the University of Texas for his junior season in November and again following March’s NCAA Championships, where he was beaten by Caeleb Dressel in the 100-yard butterfly.

The goal is apparently an imminent one.

Schooling said he believes he can break Phelps’ record at the world championships in Budapest in July, according to Channel News Asia. It would require lowering his personal best by more than a half-second.

“I’m looking forward to that race, and deep down I think if I do what I know I can do, if I execute everything well perfectly, I’d have a really good shot,” Schooling said Thursday, according to the report.

Schooling, 21, hasn’t raced a 100m butterfly since the Olympics, where he clocked 50.39 seconds. That broke Phelps’ Olympic record of 50.58 set at the 2008 Olympics. It’s the fifth-fastest time ever.

All of the top four times, including Phelps’ world record of 49.82, were set in 2009 at the peak of the high-tech swimsuit era.

“My dad told me 50.39 is a world record in a textile suit, but I want the world record on paper,” Schooling reportedly said less than a week after his Olympic title in August. “My next goal is breaking 49.8.”

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Aly Raisman calls out airport worker for ‘muscles’ comment

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Three-time Olympic champion Aly Raisman called out a male airport security worker who she says questioned whether she had enough muscles to be a gymnast.

Raisman posted on Twitter on Wednesday that after a female Transportation Security Administration worker said she recognized Raisman by her biceps, a male employee said, “I don’t see any muscles.” Raisman called the encounter “rude & uncomfortable.”

Raisman, who turned 23 Thursday, says she works “very hard to be healthy & fit.” She says that if a man can’t compliment a girl’s muscles, he’s sexist.

Raisman didn’t say where or when the airport exchange took place.

Raisman previously authored a powerful social media post about body image, shouting out “to all the boys from 5th-9th grade who made fun of me for being ‘too strong’” in November.

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