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IOC looks into report of Brazilian-linked payment before 2016 Olympic host city vote

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LONDON (AP) — Former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks turned himself over to the IOC ethics commission following a French newspaper report linking him to a payment from a man who has been banned for life from track and field for corruption.

The payment of $299,300 to an offshore company linked to Fredericks came in 2009 on the day that Rio de Janeiro was awarded hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday.

Fredericks, a Namibian sprinter who won silver medals in the 100m and 200m at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, is a member of the International Olympic Committee and currently the head of the evaluation commission for the 2024 Olympics.

“He informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasized his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an email. “The IOC trusts that Mr. Fredericks will bring all the elements to prove his innocence against these allegations made by Le Monde.”

According to the newspaper report, Matlock Capital Group paid $1.5 million to Pamodzi Consulting, a company founded by Papa Massata Diack, ahead of the 2016 Olympic hosting vote and transferred another $500,000 to Diack’s Russian bank account. Diack is a former marketing director at the IAAF and son of the organization’s former president, Lamine Diack.

Both Diacks are being investigated by French prosecutors on corruption charges linked to covering up Russian doping cases in a separate scandal. Papa Massata Diack was banned for life as part of that investigation.

Matlock Capital Group, the newspaper says, is a holding company linked to Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.

Le Monde says Diack transferred $299,300 to Yemi Limited, the company linked to Fredericks, on Oct. 2, the same day Rio won a vote to host the 2016 Olympics and bring the Games to South America for the first time.

“The IOC has taken note of the serious allegations … regarding the vote to select the host city of the Olympic Games 2016,” Adams said. “The IOC is ‘Partie Civile’ to the ongoing procedure initiated by the French Judicial authorities against former IAAF President Mr. Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, the then marketing consultant of the IAAF. The IOC remains fully committed to clarifying this situation, working in cooperation with the prosecutor.”

Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, denied any link to alleged bribery.

“We ran a clean election, and all the documents, everything we had on the campaign are open to the public and to the French investigators,” Andrada said, adding that French investigators had not contacted the committee.

The IOC said Fredericks, who had a marketing contract with Pamodzi Sports Consulting from 2007-11, had already turned himself over to the IAAF ethics commission as well.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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