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Rio 2016 Olympic boss arrested in vote-buying probe

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee was arrested on Thursday amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring the Olympics to Rio.

Carlos Nuzman, who is also an honorary International Olympic Committee member, was held for questioning last month by Brazilian and French authorities. They said he was a central figure in channeling at least $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal who helped secure votes when Rio was picked in 2009 by the IOC.

Brazilian authorities have said the behind-the-scenes dealings to win the vote amounted to a “criminal organization,” led by Sergio Cabral, the former governor of Rio who has been jailed on a different corruption conviction.

Securing the Games for Rio was just the first step in the massive scheme, according to Nuzman’s arrest order. The Olympics led to massive public investment in infrastructure projects and services contracts, opening a pipeline of money that was used to reward friends and allies and pay bribes.

Authorities said Nuzman would be held because investigators found he tried to hamper the investigation by regularizing assets likely gained with illicit money. About two weeks after being held for questioning, Nuzman amended his tax declaration to add about $600,000 in income, the order said.

“He clearly acted to obstruct the investigation,” said the order, adding that the lack of a clear origin of the extra money “indicated it was illicit.”

Leonardo Gryner, director-general of operations for the organizing committee, was also arrested on Thursday.

Investigators said they also recovered a key they believed was for a safe in Switzerland containing gold.

“While Olympic medalists chased their dreams of gold medals, leaders of the Brazilian Olympic Committee stashed their gold in Switzerland,” prosecutor Fabiana Schenider said.

Nuzman’s lawyer, Nelio Machado, told news portal G1 that being detained like this was “harsh and unusual” and denied there had been a vote-buying scheme.

In Nuzman’s last 10 years as Brazilian Olympic Committee president, his net worth increased 457 percent, according to investigators. The 75-year-old Nuzman was one of the most prominent figures in bringing the Games to Rio.

Prosecutors previously laid out a scheme in which Nuzman arranged for businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho’s company to pay Lamine Diack $2 million into an account in the name of Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack. On Thursday, prosecutors said they have since uncovered emails showing the younger Diack asked for more money and received it.

Schenider said she was surprised by the attempts to obstruct the investigation but that the machinations would not thwart justice.

“We are showing that Brazil is no longer a paradise for corrupt people, for thieves,” she said. “We are getting to people who never thought they would have to answer for their actions.”

In a statement, the IOC said it was fully cooperating with the investigation and conducting its own probe.

“Given the new facts, the IOC ethics commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr. Nuzman’s right to be heard,” said the statement, which did not offer more details.

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MORE: IOC seeks more information regarding vote-buying case

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37