Badminton changes rules after “regrettable spectacle”

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The Badminton World Federation announced rule changes to the Olympic doubles format Friday in Bangkok after eight players were expelled from the Olympics for giving less than a valiant effort to win matches during London’s round robin stage.

The new rules, which will take effect in Rio, place all pairs finishing second in their group into an additional draw to determine which teams will face off in the knockout stage, which the BWF says will “ensure such a regrettable spectacle is never witnessed in badminton again.”

The top group finishers will have a fixed position similar to seeding for the final round.

“This will eliminate any player’s thoughts about actively trying to lose a match or matches, irrespective of other match results,” the BWF said in a statement. “Such a draw process can easily and effectively be made just after all group matches have been concluded.”

The federation also stated that they won’t take any more action against the players or coaches involved in the scandal, mostly because it’s not “legally feasible,” but added that the specific organizations had already done their part to punish the offenders, and that the BWF had strengthened its code of conduct to sanction coaches in the future.

Korea attempted to ban its two coaches for life, but the suspension was reduced to only two years. As for Chinese star Yu Yang – who was kicked out along with her teammate, two teams from South Korea, and one from Indonesia – she has since started playing again and won a tournament in Shanghai earlier this month.

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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