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With Olympics in 3 months, WADA gets Russian doping files

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The World Anti-Doping Agency has obtained files from a Moscow lab that contain data from a period when investigators say Russia ran a state-sponsored system designed to help Olympic athletes evade positive tests.

The data is considered a key piece of evidence as the International Olympic Committee tries to determine the fate of Russian athletes for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Later this month, the WADA board will decide whether to reinstate the suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which would be a key step toward Russia’s overall acceptance to the upcoming Olympics.

As a condition of reinstatement, WADA is requiring “responsible authorities” in Russia to publicly accept outcomes of the investigation conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who outlined evidence of the state-sponsored system. They also are requiring the Russian government to provide access to stored urine samples and electronic data in the Moscow laboratory.

A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that the newly gleaned data did not come from the Russian government. The person did not want to be identified because details of the investigation were not supposed to be made public.

In announcing the acquisition of the data, WADA chairman Craig Reedie said it “serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes.”

Early next month, the executive board of the IOC will meet to discuss Russia’s future.

Two commissions — one looking at individual cases and one looking at the Russian doping program as a whole — are nearing the end of their work.

Already, six Russians have been penalized for violations at the Sochi Games and barred from next year’s Olympics.

Anti-doping leaders are calling for a full ban of the Russian Olympic team, with allowances made for Russian athletes who can prove they’re clean to compete as neutral athletes.

The McLaren Report detailed a scheme in which the Moscow lab would report all positive tests to Russia’s Ministry of Sport, and the ministry would replay with a “save” or “quarantine” order. If a report said “save,” the lab would report the sample as negative in WADA’s database.

WADA said that “by cross-referencing this new intelligence with the McLaren Investigations’ findings and what was reported into (the database), WADA’s evidence base is reinforced.”

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MORE: Figure skating gold medalist cleared in Russia doping investigation

The secret messages Lindsey Vonn wrote on her Olympic race suit

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SCHEDULE UPDATE: Vonn will will return for the final women’s downhill training run on Monday at 9 p.m. ET. LIVE STREAM

Look closely at Lindsey Vonn.

When NBC cameras zoom in on the two-time Olympic medalist, viewers will notice that she wrote a couple of messages on her uniform in permanent marker.

On the thumb of her right glove, Vonn has the word “believe” in Greek. It mirrors a tattoo she has on the inside of a finger.

“Signifying my last Olympics [in 2018] and just need to believe in myself,” Vonn said to NBC’s Nick Zaccardi.

On her helmet, Vonn has the initials “D.K.” and a heart. It is meant to honor her late grandfather, Don Kildow.

Kildow, who served in the Korean War from 1952-54, died on Nov. 1. Watch to learn more about Vonn’s special relationship with her grandparents:

Hard falls at Olympics, but no hard rules about concussions

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — At the bottom of the Olympic aerials landing hill, where crashes are common and the term “slap back” is part of the everyday lingo, skiers spend almost as much time figuring out how to protect their heads as they do working on all those flips and spins.

“We learn how to fall,” U.S. jumper Jon Lillis said.

Elsewhere around the action-sports venue, that’s not so much the case.

Concussion dangers lurk everywhere — from the iced-over deck of the halfpipe, to the steeply pitched landings on the slopestyle course, to the careening twists and turns of the snowboard cross track, to the aerials course, where “slap back” is the term for when a skier’s head slaps backward against the snow. But at the Olympics, there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding who diagnoses head injuries, and no hard-and-fast protocol that athletes must clear to be allowed back on the slopes after a concussion.

“A bit concerning,” says neurologist Kevin Weber of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “Because you worry that athletes in other sports that may not be as popular as football are getting, I wouldn’t say ignored, but the concussions they’re getting are under-scrutinized.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com