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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

Russia loses more Sochi Olympic medals in latest doping bans

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The IOC banned five more Russian Olympians — and stripped the nation of two more Sochi Olympic medals — in its latest round of punishments for the nation’s doping violations leading up to and during the 2014 Winter Games.

Russia has now been stripped of 11 of its leading 33 medals from the Sochi Olympics. The U.S. is temporarily the medal standings leader with 28 overall, though medal upgrades and more disqualifications will impact the table.

Nineteen Russian Sochi Olympians have been banned overall.

The IOC will announce whether Russia will be allowed to take part in the PyeongChang Olympics on Dec. 5.

Bobsledders Dmitry Trunenkov and Aleksey Negodaylo, who made up half of Russia’s four-man gold-medal team, led Monday’s banned list.

The driver of that four-man sled (and Russia’s two-man gold-medal sled), the retired Aleksandr Zubkov, was retroactively disqualified and banned for life last week. So Trunenkov and Negodaylo had already lost their gold medals before Monday’s announcement.

A Latvian team led by driver Oskars Melbardis is in line to move up from silver to gold. The late Steven Holcomb and his U.S. team could get silver.

The fourth-place team, piloted by Russian Alexander Kasjanov, could get bronze. None of the members of Kasjanov’s sled have been sanctioned by the IOC or the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF).

MORE: Updated Sochi Olympic medal standings

Two Russian biathletes were stripped of two combined medals on Monday.

Olga Vilukhina and Yana Romanova, two of the four members of Russia’s biathlon relay team that took silver, are banned from any future Olympics.

Vilukhina also took silver in the 7.5km sprint.

Vilukhina and Romanova were also banned by the International Biathlon Union last winter after being named in a Russian doping investigation. Vilukhina hasn’t competed in nearly two years; Romanova since March 2015.

Norway and the Czech Republic could be upgraded to silver and bronze, respectively, in the relay. Ukraine’s Vita Semerenko and Italy’s Karin Oberhofer could move up to silver and bronze, respectively, in the sprint.

The fifth athlete retroactively disqualified and banned for life Monday was skeleton slider Sergei Chudinov, who finished fifth in Sochi.

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MORE: No end in sight for Russia track and field ban

Two athletes may vie for Winter Olympic medal record in PyeongChang

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Marit Bjørgen knows that she can break the record for career Winter Olympic medals and gold medals in PyeongChang.

She’s also aware that the current record holder could add to his tally, too.

A pair of Norwegian legends will compete in their final Olympics and compete against each other, but not in the same events, in February.

Bjørgen, a 37-year-old cross-country skier and mother, has won 10 medals, including six golds, among the last four Winter Games. She is already the most decorated woman in Winter Olympic history.

Bjørgen is three medals (and two golds) shy of the overall Winter Olympic medal record. That’s held by Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, a 43-year-old who is expected to race in his seventh Winter Games.

Cross-country skiing and biathlon are two sports where athletes can rack up several medals throughout the 16 days of the Games, both individually and in relays.

Bjørgen said it’s a dream — but not a goal — and certainly motivation to try and pass Bjørndalen’s record in PyeongChang, according to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG).

Bjørndalen snatched the title in Sochi, passing another Norwegian, retired cross-country skier Bjørn Dæhlie, by one total medal and tying Dæhlie’s record for golds.

Incredibly, Bjørgen could be favored to pass Bjørndalen in five months, a little more than two years after giving birth to son Marius.

She returned to competition last season and dominated the world championships, winning three of the four individual events and anchoring Norway’s winning relay team.

Bjørndalen earned one medal at the 2017 World Biathlon Championships — a bronze.

If Bjørgen and Bjørndalen repeat those medal takeaways in PyeongChang, Bjørgen will tie Bjørndalen in total medals and pass him in golds by two to become the most decorated Winter Olympian in history.

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic schedule daily highlights