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Ex-spy says NSA did mass surveillance during Salt Lake City Olympics

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former top spy agency official who was the target of a government leak investigation says the National Security Agency conducted blanket surveillance in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, according to court documents.

Ex-NSA official Thomas Drake wrote in a declaration released Friday that the NSA collected and stored virtually all electronic communications going into or out of the Salt Lake City area, including the contents of emails and text messages.

“Officials in the NSA and FBI viewed the Salt Lake Olympics Field Op as a golden opportunity to bring together resources from both agencies to experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance,” Drake wrote.

It comes as part of a lawsuit filed by attorney Rocky Anderson, who was the mayor of Salt Lake City during the Winter Games held a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Anderson said the document was disclosed to the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.

Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden has denied in court documents that such a program existed. Hayden was NSA director from 1999 to 2005.

Current NSA operations director Wayne Murphy said in court documents that NSA surveillance in Salt Lake City was limited to international communications in which at least one participant was reasonably believed to be associated with foreign terrorist groups.

Drake disputed that statement, writing that he spoke with colleagues who worked on the operation and were concerned about its legality. He said he also saw documents showing surveillance equipment being directed to the Utah program.

His declaration was written in support of the former mayor’s lawsuit. Anderson said the lawsuit is designed to get more information about what he calls covert, illegal operations.

The NSA has argued the lawsuit’s claims are far-fetched speculation about a program that may never have existed. A judge, though, refused a Justice Department push to dismiss the lawsuit in January.

Drake started working for the NSA in 2001 and blew the whistle on what he saw as a wasteful and invasive program. He was later prosecuted for keeping classified information. Most of the charges were dropped before trial in 2011, and he was sentenced to one year of probation.

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MORE: Remembering South Korea’s ‘Ohno celebration’ at 2002 World Cup

IOC expects decisions on Russian doping cases next month

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Investigators at the International Olympic Committee expect to have “a number” of doping cases involving Russians at the Sochi Olympics resolved by the end of November, but they have no plans to dictate the eligibility of these athletes for next year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The leader of an IOC delegation in charge of reviewing 28 cases involving athletes at Sochi wrote to the head of the IOC Athletes Commission this week to update the timeline of cases stemming from a report detailing a Russian doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics and beforehand.

Denis Oswald said that of the cases his committee is reviewing, priority has been given to those involving athletes looking to compete in PyeongChang. Top priority goes to six cross-country skiers whose provisional suspensions expire Oct. 31.

Oswald also said his committee would rule on these athletes’ results for Sochi, but will not determine their eligibility for PyeongChang, instead handing over evidence to their respective sports federations to decide.

The IOC also appointed a task force to look at the Russian doping scandal as a whole, the results of which could have wider repercussions on the country’s eligibility at next year’s Olympics.

In a separate letter sent to worldwide sports leaders, IOC President Thomas Bach said only that the Schmid Commission is continuing its evaluation and that “I hope that the IOC Executive Board will still be able to take a decision this year because none of us want this serious issue to overshadow” the upcoming Olympics.

The updates come amid a growing chorus of calls for a timely decision and for Russia’s ouster from PyeongChang.

The IOC commissions are operating off information from the McLaren Report, the first part of which was released in July 2016.

In explaining the timeline, Oswald wrote that because the Russian scheme involved exchanging dirty urine samples with clean ones, it took time to adopt methods to verify that samples had been tampered with — in part by finding evidence of scratch marks on collection bottles that had been opened and re-sealed.

“The task has not been easy in both establishing a methodology in an area in which there are no established protocols,” he wrote, “and then moving through the necessary scientific analysis of each individual sample in a way which would withstand legal challenge.”

MORE: USOC boss calls for immediate action on Russian doping

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Two-time Olympian becomes first woman to lead U.S. national swim team

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Two-time Olympian Lindsay Mintenko has been picked to lead the U.S. national swimming team. She is the first woman to hold the title.

USA Swimming made the announcement Wednesday.

Mintenko replaces Frank Busch, who retired Oct. 1 as managing director. She has been a member of the national team staff since 2006.

During her swimming career, Mintenko won gold medals as a U.S. team captain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics 800m freestyle relay and added a silver in 2004 on the 400m freestyle relay.

USA Swimming also announced an organizational restructuring that will place all technical divisions, including the national team, under the oversight of chief operating officer Mike Unger.

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