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WADA: Russia can’t bid for, host international events

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Leaders of the World Anti-Doping Agency declared Russia’s anti-doping operation out of compliance Wednesday — a harsh though expected blow to a country accused of widespread corruption throughout its sports.

Members of the WADA foundation board approved a recommendation from an independent commission that detailed widespread rule-breaking in Russia’s track and anti-doping programs. Nobody voted “no,” though it wasn’t clear whether some members abstained as the vote was done by raising hands.

Without an operating anti-doping agency, Russia cannot host or bid for international events. The track team has already been provisionally suspended by the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, which is also under investigation for its role in the doping scandal.

The vote came as key figures in the anti-doping movement, including Olympic champions Edwin Moses and Beckie Scott, called for banning the Russian track team from next year’s Olympics and for the probe in Russia to extend beyond track and field.

“I think the athletes were quite clear,” Moses said. “There was testimony in (the report) of what is going on in Russia is beyond track and field. They’re very, very concerned about that.”

Russia’s member on the WADA Foundation board, deputy sports minister Pavel Kolobkov, sat stoically during the vote, which he was not part of. Earlier, he presented his country’s case. The headline from his presentation was the possibility that the Russian government could strip funding from the Moscow anti-doping lab, which has also been declared noncompliant.

Dick Pound, the author of the independent commission report, responded to that by saying, “throwing out funding is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Overall, though, there was little debate about the Russian agency (RUSADA), the fate of which has essentially been sealed since Pound’s report came out last week.

More urgently discussed was WADA’s ability to deal with the noncompliance declaration and the doping allegations that go beyond Russia’s track team.

WADA General Director David Howman said plans would be made this month for outside agencies to take over testing and compliance for Russian athletes, so as to avoid a vacuum of anti-doping work in the country.

Scott, an Olympic champion cross-country skier and the chair of the WADA athlete committee, told the WADA board that athletes around the world were asking the agency to expand its probe beyond Russian track and field.

“They’re saying, ‘Why not all sports?'” said Scott, a Canadian Olympic cross-country skiing champion and also the chair of WADA’s athlete committee. “I feel that there are a lot of athletes watching and waiting right now. We’re at a crossroads. We urge you to please consider these athletes and consider these sports as a whole.”

WADA’s representative from New Zealand agreed with Scott’s proposal and said he would like to see it adopted. But no action was taken.

WADA president Craig Reedie told Scott, “it’s quite difficult to agree today, around this table, that we would investigate all sports around the world.”

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the lack of action “a gut kick to clean athletes.”

“Unless we want to be relegated to an impotent bureaucracy, we have to fulfill our promise to clean athletes and take action as requested by them,” Tygart said.

Scott’s proposal delivered context into a debate about the WADA budget, which stands at about $26 million a year and is in line for a 2 or 3 percent increase, but clearly needs more if thorough investigations are going to continue.

“There are going to have to be other sources of revenue,” Moses said. “WADA’s budget is, I don’t think, large enough to do what it needs to do.”

MORE: Russian DQ’d after winning Japan marathon

Coronavirus forces Olympic soccer and boxing qualifiers to move

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness.

A four-nation Asian qualifying group for the women’s soccer tournament was switched from the city at the center of the health scare to Nanjing.

The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifying tournament scheduled for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan was cancelled. No new plans were announced.

The decisions followed Chinese health authorities telling people in Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

The Asian Football Confederation said the round-robin group — featuring host China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — will be played on Feb. 3-9, retaining the same dates, in Nanjing.

More than 500 people have been infected and at least 17 killed since the outbreak emerged last month. The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus.

Cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. All involve people from Wuhan or who recently traveled there.

In the soccer qualifiers in China, two teams advance to a four-nation playoff round in March. That will decide which two teams from Asia join host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Russia trounces U.S. boys’ hockey team to wrap up Youth Olympic Games

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Russia routed the U.S. 4-0 in the boys’ hockey gold medal game Wednesday, the final day of the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. had more penalties (three) than shots (two) in the first period. Russia’s Matvei Michkov converted the first power play and added an even-strength goal later in the period. Another power-play goal in the second period ran the score to 3-0.

Michkov just turned 15 and is projected as a top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

The gold medal was Russia’s ninth of the Games, excluding events that featured mixed-nationality teams, and 27th overall medal. Both numbers were the best of the competition.

Switzerland finished second in the medal tally with nine golds and 22 total. Japan, the surprise winner in girls’ hockey, matched Switzerland with nine golds among its 17 medals.

The U.S. had two gold medals and 11 total. Kiernan Fagan took gold in the boys’ ski slopestyle and silver in ski big air. Dusty Henricksen won the boys’ snowboard slopestyle.

Fagan, who turned 18 during the Games, already has a couple of World Cup podiums and finished 12th in slopestyle in last year’s world championships. He also took silver in big air and slopestyle in last year’s world junior championships.

Henricksen, who’ll turn 17 next month, placed 17th in the World Cup big air event last month in Atlanta.

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