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Russian skier stripped of gold medal, banned from Olympics vows to fight

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Alexander Legkov, the cross-country skier stripped of his Sochi gold and silver medals and banned for life from the Olympics last week in Russia’s doping probe, said he will fight that decision in a 781-word Instagram post on Monday.

Legkov, the only Russian skier to win Olympic gold in Sochi, posted an image of himself holding his Sochi gold and silver medals with the text. He posted it in Russian, then in a second post in English.

Russian media reported the statement was first posted on the website of Legkov’s lawyer on Saturday.

He wrote that his stripped Olympic 50km cross-country gold medal “is clean.”

The text read:

It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel.

A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain.

For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you’ve done and you know what I’ve done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating.

In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race.

Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals.

The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called “cocktail”, I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called “cocktail” was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary designer drug. The substances were part of the standard test routine. If I had tried to use the cocktail, I would have been discovered.

Until today no witness statement is shown to me or my lawyer in which a person claims that he or she offered performing enhancing drugs to me or claims that he or she took from me in an irregular manner clean urine. Not even Prof McLaren claimed that about an individual athlete.

Instead, I’ve been punished.

IOC ordered a forensic expert but they did not follow him. They decided in contrast to him and in contrast to Prof Mclaren. My lawyer demanded for DNA analysis for 10 months and they missed to conduct it for me and all the other athletes. We were at Court of Arbitration and they ruled the facts meet not the standard of comfortable satisfaction which is required for a sanction – and IOC said it doesn’t matter and sanctioned me.

Every athlete knows how hard it is to explain day by day where you are in whereabout and to be visited nearly any time of a day and night by an Doping Control Officer, for me more than 150 times. They are discussing to chip us or using GPS.

I want to ask myself, my teammates, my opponents and all the other athletes: if this does not prove anything and does not protect us from a diffuse suspicion, why do we do this?

We are all forced to submit to a sanction procedure from which none of us can be sure that it is fair and free of other interests. Every athlete no matter of which nation can come in the same situation.

The only thing what I want is to be treated fairly, to have independent arbitrators within a fair procedure ruled by law. Either at Court of Arbitration for Sport, or at Swiss Federal Court or the European High Court.

Instead, they sanctioned me.

I am Alexander Gennadjewitsch Legkov, Cross Country Skier, Winner of the Gold Medal in 50km mass start at Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi and my medal is clean. I stand upright and fight.

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It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel. A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain. For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you've done and you know what I've done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating. In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race. Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals. The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called "cocktail", I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called "cocktail" was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary 👇

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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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MORE: Candace Parker finished with USA Basketball

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