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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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Jana Novotna, Wimbledon champ and Olympic medalist, dies at 49

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PRAGUE (AP) — Jana Novotna, who won the hearts of the tennis world when she sobbed on the shoulder of a member of the British royal family after a heartbreaking loss in the Wimbledon final, has died at the age of 49.

The WTA announced Novotna’s death on Monday, saying she died Sunday in her native Czech Republic following a long battle with cancer.

Novotna died “peacefully, surrounded by her family,” the women’s tennis body said.

Her family confirmed her death to the Czech Republic’s CTK news agency. No details were given.

Martina Navratilova, the tennis great who was also born in what was then Czechoslovakia, tweeted: “The tennis world is so sad about the passing of Jana Novotna. I am gutted and beyond words. Jana was a true friend and an amazing woman.”

Novotna won her only Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, eventually triumphing after two losses in the final at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in 1993 and 1997.

She added three Olympic tennis medals — singles bronze at Altanta 1996 (knocking out top seed Monica Seles) and doubles silver in 1988 and 1996 with Helena Sukova.

She also lost in the 1991 Australian Open final.

While she finally captured the Grand Slam singles title she longed for in 1998, she won over the Wimbledon crowd five years earlier after wasting a big lead in the decisive set in a tough three-set loss to Steffi Graf.

Unable to hide her disappointment, Novotna cried on the shoulder of Britain’s Duchess of Kent at the prize giving ceremony and was gently comforted by the royal, who told her: “I know you will win it one day, don’t worry.”

Novotna ultimately had her moment five years later when she beat Nathalie Tauziat in straight sets to win Wimbledon. At the time, she was the oldest first-time winner of a Grand Slam singles title at age 29.

There wear tears again from Novotna, this time of joy, and the Duchess of Kent was present again to congratulate her.

“She was a true champion in all senses of the word, and her 1998 triumph will live long in the memory,” Wimbledon organizers the All England Club said in tribute to Novotna. “The thoughts of all those at Wimbledon are with her family and friends.”

Fellow Czech and four-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova, who coached Novotna for her Wimbledon win, said: “It’s hard to find words. Jana was a great girl and I’m happy that she won Wimbledon after all. It’s so sad when someone so young dies.”

During a 14-year professional career, Novotna won 24 singles titles and reached a career-high No. 2 in the singles rankings in 1997. She was a prolific and top-ranked doubles player, collecting 16 slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles.

She also won the Fed Cup with her country in 1988. Novotna was inducted into tennis’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

Even after retiring in 1999, Novotna was desperate to stay involved in tennis and became a commentator and coach.

“I’m dependent on tennis,” she said in an interview two years ago. “A day without it would be terrible.”

Members of the current Czech Fed Cup team said Novotna “supported us in the stands any time she could be there. We’ll miss her.”

“Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her,” WTA chief executive Steve Simon said. “Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the WTA.”

Houston Texans turn TD celebration into relay race (video)

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The relaxation of NFL celebration rules generated another Olympic sport-themed touchdown celebration on Sunday.

Four Houston Texans players combined to make up a relay team in Sunday’s 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Running back Lamar Miller led off after scoring on a seven-yard pass.

Miller, who reportedly ran a 100m in 10.71 seconds as a 16-year-old, handed the football off to DeAndre Hopkins, followed by Braxton Miller and finally Bruce Ellington on anchor.

“I think [Hopkins] came up with that out there,” said Lamar Miller, who briefly sprinted at the University of Miami. “He was like, whoever scored, we should do a relay.”

Unlike some recent U.S. men’s 4x100m teams at the Olympics and world championships, the Texans got the baton around clean.

“No rehearsal,” Lamar Miller said. “I think we would be a great 4x100m team.”

Last month, the Green Bay Packers celebrated like a bobsled team.

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