Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov

Man indicted for fixing 2002 Olympic figure skating has ‘life of luxury’

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Russia is providing a safe haven for the man indicted for fixing pairs figure skating at the 2002 Olympics and other criminal activities, according to ABC News.

Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a 65-year-old man described as a Russian mafia boss, has an Interpol arrest warrant yet lives a life of luxury.

“Frankly, there’s not much that we can do unless he voluntarily decides to show up at [New York’s] JFK [airport] one day,” said FBI agent Mike Gaeta, according to ABC.

Tokhtakhounov was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2002 for allegedly fixing the pairs competition at the Sale Lake City Olympics using bribes and threats.

Tokhtakhounov, known by the nickname “Little Taiwanese,” has denied wrongdoing. The FBI is still keeping tabs on him, according to the report.

“I am not bad, like you think,” he told The New York Times in a June article. “I am not the mafia. I am not a bandit.”

What happened at the 2002 Olympics changed figure skating forever.

In the pairs competition, Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were attempting to keep a Soviet Union/Unified Team/Russia gold-medal streak going that dated to 1964.

The Russians won gold over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, by a 5-4 judges vote.

The next day, a French judge reportedly said she was pressured by the head of France’s figure skating federation to vote for the Russians. Duplicate gold medals were awarded to Sale and Pelletier in light of the findings with a second, awkward medal ceremony.

The French judge later issued a denial and said she believed the Russians deserved to win.

The other part of the fix was to include a Russian judge voting for a French ice dance team later in the Olympics. Tokhtakhounov reportedly hoped this would help him with a French visa.

The fallout helped lead to an upheaval in figure skating scoring and the trashing of the 6.0 system in favor of today’s code of points.

Tokhtakhounov does not plan on attending the Sochi Olympics.

“It’s too cold,” he told ABC. “I’ll be watching the Olympics on my TV at home in the warm.”

Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in team event?

Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

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Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

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Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

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Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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