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Russians banned from Sochi Olympics at 25 and growing

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — More Russian doping cases from the Sochi Olympics are on the way, the International Olympic Committee said Friday as it banned three more athletes from the country.

The IOC said its commission is dealing with 36 cases, eight more than previously acknowledged.

Of that total, 25 athletes have now been banned — including the three in Friday’s rulings — and one has been cleared, figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova.

“As some investigations are still ongoing (notably the forensic analysis of the bottles), it cannot be excluded that there might be new elements that would justify opening further new cases,” the IOC said in a statement.

The three banned Friday include Olga Zaitseva, a biathlon relay silver medalist. That medal, however, has already been stripped because teammate Olga Vilukhina was banned Monday.

Zaitseva remains one of the most successful Russian biathletes in history, with two gold medals and a silver medal from previous Olympics. She will keep those medals because the ruling only applies to the 2014 Games, not the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Cross-country skiers Anastasia Dotsenko and Yulia Chekaleva were also banned Friday. Neither won a medal.

The IOC started its investigations last year after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren detailed a vast Russian program of doping and cover-ups, including tampering with samples at the Sochi laboratory.

Also Friday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it had lifted provisional suspensions from nine Russians banned by the IOC.

The move, which leaves the Russians free to compete in non-Olympic events like the World Cup, was taken because the IOC hasn’t yet provided the IBSF will full details of its investigations.

That mirrors the position taken by the International Ski Federation, which did not immediately suspend six Russians after their IOC bans, but then suspended them on Thursday after receiving more information.

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MORE: Full list of Russians disqualified from Sochi Olympics

Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week due to ankle and knee injuries suffered in a Nov. 9 practice fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since the fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October. Chen is the only undefeated skater this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule

Matt, Becca Hamilton are first U.S. Olympic mixed doubles curling team

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A brother and sister from Wisconsin will be the busiest athletes at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

A month ago the Hamilton siblings, Matt and Becca, qualified to compete at the Olympics with the U.S. men’s and women’s curling teams, and today they also qualified to play as a mixed doubles team.

With a win over two of their teammates, John Shuster (skip of Matt’s four-man team) and Cory Christensen (alternate on Becca’s four-woman team), at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for mixed doubles curling, the Hamiltons earned the opportunity to curl on potentially every day of the Olympics.

The Hamiltons will start their Olympic competitions with the mixed doubles tournament on Thursday, Feb. 8, the day before the the Opening Ceremony marks the official beginning of the Olympics. When mixed doubles wraps up on Tuesday the 13th, they’ll start playing separately in the men’s and women’s tournaments on Wednesday the 14th. The traditional curling tournaments go until Sunday, Feb. 25, the day of the Closing Ceremony.

Of course, if one of their teams doesn’t advance past the round-robin rounds to the semifinals and medal games, they’ll have some time off. But if they do go all the way to the gold medal matches, it’ll mean 18 straight days of competition for the Hamiltons.

Matt and Becca showed their readiness during the Olympic Trials. They had the second-best record of the round-robin stage, 5-2, then beat Shuster and Christensen twice in two days to win the Olympic berth. The score of the final was 6-5.

After the match, the siblings–who say their partnership works because they can be brutally honest on the ice–had nothing but kind words for each other.

Becca, the younger Hamilton by a year and a half, said her older brother “taught me everything I know.”

Matt then said of Becca, “it’s been impressive to watch her grow up and become the superstar she is now.”

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