AP

Brazil Olympic boss sends resignation letter from jail

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Carlos Nuzman sent his resignation letter as head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee from a prison on Wednesday.

He’s been held there since last week amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

The National Olympic Committee immediately designated vice president Paulo Wanderley to replace Nuzman, who had headed the BOC for 22 years. Wanderley will serve the three years remaining on Nuzman’s term.

Speaking after meeting with the BOC’s membership, Wanderley described Nuzman’s resignation as “a relief.”

“The resignation of the president, on a personal level, I think will speed up resolving our problems,” he said.

Nuzman, who also headed the Rio Olympics, had already been suspended as a member by the International Olympic Committee.

Nuzman’s arrest has further tarnished last year’s games, which were plagued budget cuts, spotty attendance, and reports of endemic corruption. They also left behind a half-dozen “white elephant” sports venues.

Brazil officially spent $13 billion to put on the games. A year after, the organizing committee still owes creditors between $30-40 million.

Wanderley said “all of us were taken by surprise” by Nuzman’s arrest and allegations he helped channel at least $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal.

Brazilian and French investigators also said Nuzman had 16 kilos of gold — worth about $750,000 — stored in a depository.

Wanderley’s main job is to convince the IOC to lift Brazil’s suspension, which cuts of some its funding.

“”I will send answers to the IOC as soon as possible to all the questions they have asked us about,” Wanderley said, adding that he’d had a courtesy phone call recently with IOC President Thomas Bach.

As the Olympic body met inside its headquarters, a handful of protesters gathered outside. Many carried placards saying “Give the athletes a true vote.”

Luiz Lima, who quit several months ago as the No. 2 person in the federal sports ministry, was among those carrying a signboard.

Lima, an Olympic swimmer at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, said Brazilian athletes had “almost no power.” He said the 30 federations that make up the Brazilian Olympic Committee each have one vote in setting policy.

He said athletes as a collective have only one.

“This is only one vote in 31, which does not seem like any fair representation,” Lima.

Lima said Brazil’s national government gives the Brazilian Olympic Committee about 200 million reals ($65 million) yearly.

He said in his tenure in the sports ministry he pushed for giving athletes and federations the money directly, bypassing the BOC.

“That got little support and was one of the reasons I left,” he said.

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Skylar Diggins-Smith has the opportunity to fill USA Basketball’s need

Skylar Diggins
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Skylar Diggins-Smith said making the U.S. Olympic team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is her second chance.

An ACL tear derailed her Rio 2016 hopes. That happened in a WNBA game on June 28, 2015.

Though Diggins-Smith was among 25 Olympic finalists named in January 2016, she didn’t return to game action until that May, four weeks after the 12-woman Olympic team was chosen.

The 27-year-old guard said she’s played for USA Basketball for 12 years, since before her standout Notre Dame career that led to her current stint with the Dallas Wings (formerly Tulsa Shock).

“This is the most clear my mind has been,” with USA Basketball, Diggins-Smith said from training camp in Seattle on Tuesday, ahead of a Thursday exhibition against China at Key Arena (10 p.m. ET, usab.com/live).

Signs point to Diggins-Smith making her major international tournament debut at September’s FIBA World Cup, the quadrennial world championship event.

Though Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi‘s surprising returns crowd the backcourt, the other Olympic gold medalist guard, Lindsay Whalen, retired from the national team.

Diggins-Smith’s play last season, her first full campaign back from the ACL tear, boosts her case. She made the All-WNBA First Team.

She also made the first team in 2014. That year, Diggins-Smith was among the final cuts for the world championship team less than a week before the tournament.

“Every time I come to USA Basketball, I think you have a tendency to kind of overthink,” Diggins-Smith said Tuesday. “You just want to do the right thing, don’t really want to make mistakes. … You want to do the right thing, and you press a little bit.”

USA Basketball has stressed finding its next stalwart point guard following five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, three-time Olympian Dawn Staley (now the U.S. head coach) and the 37-year-old Bird, eyeing her fifth Olympics in 2020.

“Give me three guards that have separated themselves from everyone else in the WNBA to put themselves at the same level as Sue, Diana, Lindsay Whalen,” then-U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said after the Olympic team was named in April 2016. “You really start to look around and, you go, that is a huge question that has to be answered.”

“Obviously, there’s a need,” Staley said in February, listing point guards other than Bird at that camp.

The first name Staley mentioned was Diggins-Smith, for what it’s worth.

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USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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WATCH: NBC Olympics documentary on 1968 Olympics