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A look at the Russians stripped of Olympic medals from Sochi

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MOSCOW (AP) Fourteen Russian athletes have now been banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with nine medals stripped from six athletes in four sports.

Here’s a look at the medalists who have been banned:


Sport: Bobsled

2014 Olympic results: Gold in two-man, gold in four-man

Alexander Zubkov was arguably Russia’s biggest star at the Sochi Olympics, a grizzled veteran who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony and then won two gold medals in bobsled.

Zubkov has since become president of the Russian Bobsled Federation, putting him in charge of a new generation of athletes.

His gold medals are now in line to pass to Swiss and Latvian teams. American bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who died in May, could be upgraded to two silver medals.

MORE on Zubkov’s DQ here.


Sport: Speedskating

2014 Olympic result: Silver in 500 meters

Olga Fatkulina could only manage 20th in both her events at the 2010 Olympics, but the skater from the Ural Mountains improved rapidly over the following years to win a world title in 2013, then an Olympic silver medal the following year.

When the IOC announced she had been banned, Fatkulina was in Canada for a World Cup speedskating event.


Sport: Skeleton

2014 Olympic result: Gold

Alexander Tretyakov arrived in Sochi as Russia’s first skeleton world champion and broke the track record on his way to the gold medal.

Martins Dukurs, a five-time world champion from Latvia, is now in line to inherit his and his country’s first Winter Olympic gold.


Sport: Skeleton

2014 Olympic result: Bronze

Elena Nikitina narrowly reached the podium, beating American rival Katie Uhlaender by 0.04 seconds for bronze.

Nikitina, one of three Russian women in the top six who have been found guilty of doping offenses, would have been a medal contender at the Pyeongchang Olympics. She won a World Cup race only four days before her ban was announced on Wednesday.


Sport: Cross-country skiing

2014 Olympic results: Gold in men’s 50 kilometers, silver in 4×10-kilometer relay

A Russian podium sweep in the last race of the Sochi Games meant Alexander Legkov got his gold at the closing ceremony. A packed stadium looked on as Russian cross-country skiers received gold, silver and bronze.

Legkov was a surprise winner because he had never won an individual or Olympic world championship medal in nine years of trying.

Legkov says he competed clean, and has never failed a test. Ilya Chernousov, Russia’s bronze medalist in the 50K, could now inherit gold.


Sport: Cross-country skiing

2014 Olympic results: Silver in men’s 50 kilometers, silver in 4×10-kilometer relay, silver in team sprint

Maxim Vylegzhanin never quite made it to the top of the podium, finishing second three times. He has now lost all three medals. Sweden, France and Norway are among the countries that could be upgraded as a result.

New generation of male figure skaters owns spotlight at worlds; preview

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Nobody in the men’s field at figure skating worlds owns an Olympic or world title for the first time since 1985. This could lead to the best U.S. men’s results in years.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan combined to win every gold medal since 2011, but all of them ended their seasons at the Olympics.

This week in Milan, the four leading men, who just competed in their first Olympics, are all 20 years or younger. And that includes two Americans.

Nathan Chen can become the first world singles champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009. Chen and Vincent Zhou could be the first U.S. men to finish in the top five together since Lysacek and Johnny Weir in 2005. Chen, Zhou and Max Aaron could make up the best U.S. trio at a worlds in more than 20 years.

Start with Chen. The 18-year-old said he planned to compete this week regardless of what happened at the Olympics, but after his struggles in the team event and individual short programs, the quad master nailed his free skate, came home to California and said he took maybe one day off of training before this event.

Chen is one of three men in the gold-medal hunt, along with Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China. While Chen largely struggled at the 2017 Worlds and in PyeongChang, Uno and Jin each made the podium at both events. And each can come close to or equal Chen in quad numbers.

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Zhou, 17, has a chance to become the youngest man to earn a world medal since Hanyu in 2012. Or the first man to win the world junior title one season and make the world senior podium the next since Yevgeny Plushenko in 1997-98.

Zhou is riding momentum. He struggled in the fall and entered nationals in January ranked fifth among Americans for the season. He placed third to make the Olympic team and then landed three clean quads in his Olympic free skate to jump from 12th to sixth.

“I did better there than a lot of people thought I would,” Zhou told NBC Sports research last week. “I knew I was capable of that all season.

“I want to reach my ultimate goal of being Olympic champion, and my best chance is in 2022 … because by 2026 I will probably be old and creaky with four prosthetic limbs.”

Aaron made it to Milan after Olympian Adam Rippon gave up his spot, and the top two alternates (Jason Brown and Ross Miner) both declined. Still, Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, is seeded seventh in the men’s field based on top scores this season.

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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Carolina Kostner the sentimental favorite at figure skating worlds

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Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is without question the favorite at this week’s world figure skating championships, especially after the sprightly Russian’s training partner and rival Yevgenia Medvedeva withdrew because of injury.

She won’t be the sentimental favorite, though.

That would be Carolina Kostner, the ageless Italian star who could be competing at worlds for the last time on home soil. The 2012 champion and six-time world medalist seemed to indicate that retirement could be looming after she finished fifth at the PyeongChang Games, where she was chosen to carry the Italian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Kostner will have a huge home crowd behind her when the event begins Wednesday in Milan.

“Decisions like that should never be taken in a hot moment. It will come naturally,” said Kostner, who no longer can compete with the sport’s high-fliers when it comes to technical marks, but whose elegant artistry and presentation often make up the difference.

“She is an example of perseverance, of a long-lasting athlete,” Medvedeva said. “I have trouble imagining how someone can stay in that shape for a very long time. When you see people like Carolina, you understand that if she can do something, then that something is possible. If you love what you do, you put all of yourself into it, like Carolina Kostner.”

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When asked about retirement, Kostner brought up her cousin, Isolde Kostner, who won three Olympic Alpine skiing medals before deciding to step away from competition.

“She stopped skiing shortly before the (2006) Olympics in Italy,” Caroline Kostner said. “Many did not understand why she wouldn’t pull through because it was her home country, and she said, ‘You will feel strongly when it is time to stop.’ And I haven’t felt it yet.”

The biggest story at the world championships in an Olympic year tends to be who is missing rather than who shows up. The grind of competing for an entire season builds toward the quadrennial event, and athletes who medal or intend to retire rarely press on to worlds. Then there are the injuries, which accumulate during the year.

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang