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Frank Fredericks leaves 2024 Olympic bid role, waives vote

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GENEVA (AP) — IOC member Frank Fredericks has stepped down from his role overseeing the 2024 Olympic bidding process after a $300,000 payment from a banned track official was revealed.

“Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures, and I do not wish to become a distraction,” the four-time Olympic silver medalist from Namibia said Tuesday in a statement.

Stepping aside as IOC evaluation chairman was “in the best interests” of the bidding process, the former sprinter said.

Fredericks, who won his Olympic medals in the 1990s, would have led an April 23-25 visit to Los Angeles. Paris will be evaluated by an IOC team on May 14-16.

“(I)t is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner,” Fredericks said, adding he will waive his right to vote in the September hosting contest.

Fredericks also will not take part in July meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, that are a key stage in the voting contest. IOC members will hear from city campaign leaders and about the evaluation visits.

Fredericks has denied wrongdoing after his integrity — and the 2016 Olympic hosting vote — was questioned by French daily Le Monde last Friday.

Fredericks previously said he contacted the IOC Ethics Commission ahead of Le Monde revealing that a company linked to him was paid $299,300 on Oct. 2, 2009, the day Rio de Janeiro won 2016 Olympic hosting rights.

The money was transferred by Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, a disgraced former IAAF president and former long-time IOC member.

The elder Diack is in France where state prosecutors are investigating alleged corruption in the IAAF. His son, who has been banned for life by the IAAF, is evading questioning and thought to be in his native Senegal.

Le Monde reported that Papa Massata Diack’s marketing company received $1.5 million from a Brazilian businessman days before Rio’s victory in a four-city contest. Fredericks, a senior IAAF official, has said he had a marketing contract with Papa Massata Diack’s agency, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, from 2007-11.

“I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or for that matter any other inappropriate or illegal practice,” said Fredericks, who joined the IOC in 2004 as an athlete representative and was a member of the IOC executive board at the time of the Rio vote.

“The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the International Olympic Committee bidding and elections process for host cities altogether,” he said. “This is why I have been and am still actively cooperating with the IOC Ethics Commission in order for them to conduct a proper and independent investigation.”

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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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