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WADA eyes fast-tracked power to sanction cheating countries, sports

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MONTREAL (AP) — After Olympic officials ignored their advice to suspend Russia from the Rio Games, World Anti-Doping Agency leaders are looking to fast-track new rules that could prevent a similar scenario for future Games.

WADA’s foundation board approved a plan Thursday that could give the agency new powers to suspend a country’s Olympic federation for egregious anti-doping violations. If enacted at the next board meeting, the rules would go on the books during the Olympics next February, though they would come into play too late for the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Still, for WADA, it’s an unusually urgent move, one that was sparked by the Russian doping scandal and the International Olympic Committee’s decision to disregard WADA’s recommendation that the entire Russian Olympic team be banned from Rio.

If the changes are approved, the IOC, along with national Olympic committees and anti-doping agencies, would have to adhere to a new system of sanctions, subject to appeals. The guidelines call for athletes from a non-compliant country to be ineligible if that country’s Olympic committee or anti-doping agency make a deliberate attempt to circumvent anti-doping rules.

This is the sort of change that would normally wait until the next rewriting of the WADA code, which would go into effect in 2021. Instead, the board heeded compliance review committee chairman Jonathan Taylor’s call for a quick review and a vote on the new rules at the November board meeting. From there, WADA regulations call for a three-month wait until the rules go on the books.

“It can get done. It’s not rocket science,” said Dick Pound, the Canadian member of the IOC and WADA, whose report on doping corruption inside the Russian track team led that sport’s international federation to suspend the team from Rio.

The IOC decision in Rio thrust the fate of Russian athletes into the hands of leaders of the individual sports federations, which allowed 271 of them to participate.

With the Winter Games nine months away, the IOC is in the middle of two investigations based on information from a report by Richard McLaren. McLaren’ report, delivered in December, found evidence of wide-scale doping corruption in Russia, including switching of drug-tainted urine samples with clean ones at the Sochi Winter Games.

It appears any decision about Russia’s eligibility for PyeongChang will be made under current rules.

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MORE: Another Russian medal from 2008 Olympics stripped

Images from the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics

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The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially come to a close. Check out some of the best photos from the Closing Ceremony in PyeongChang.

If you missed the live stream this morning, then be sure to tune into at 8:00p.m. EST / 5:00p.m. PST to watch NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream it on NBCOlympics.com. 

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PyeongChang late night roundup

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The final gold medalist of these 2018 Winter Olympic Games was a familiar one, and so too is the country which she represents.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen dominated the field in a sport that she has stood at the top of for years, winning the women’s 30km mass start in just over 80 minutes – almost two minutes ahead of the silver medalist. Bjoergen is the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Another expected gold medalist, OAR, also did the job today. But in much more dramatic fashion. The Olympic Athletes from Russia looked down and out late in the third period of regulation against Germany, but were able to capture the gold in stunning fashion.


Hockey: OAR win gold in overtime 

With just a minute left in regulation, it looked as if Germany were going to claim the most stunning win of the century. Trailing 2-3 and down a player in the power play, Nikita Gusev flicked the puck into the German net to force overtime.

OAR def. GER 4-3 (OT): Highlights

Halfway into overtime, it was OAR’s turn to go up a man on a power play. Kirill Kaprizov was the man who scored the winning goal and secured the gold medal.

OAR vs. GER full recap available here 

Cross-Country: Bjoergen wins 15th overall Winter Olympics medal 

37 year-old Marit Bjoergen dominated the women’s 30km mass start field to win her 15th overall Winter Olympics medal. The Norwegian was on her own for nearly the entire race.

Austria’s Teresa Stadlober was in a commanding position to win the silver medal until the 20th kilometer, where she strayed onto the wrong section of the course. Whether it was a lapse in combination or a mix of mental and psychological exhaustion, the Austrian’s race took a dive from there, finishing in ninth place.

Krista Parmakoski of Finland led the chase to win the silver, whilst Sweden’s Stina Nilsson outsprinted Ingvild Oestberg to win the bronze.

Jessie Diggins, who will be the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Closing Ceremony, finished in seventh place. This was likely Diggins’ final Olympic race.

Women’s 30km mass start full recap available here