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IOC says no threat of Olympic suspension for Mexico

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Mexico has avoided any threat of suspension from the Olympics after the IOC found no evidence that the government was interfering in the work of sports federations.

Pere Miro, the IOC’s deputy director general of relations with the Olympic movement, said Tuesday the Mexican government has assured the International Olympic Committee that it respects the autonomy of national sports bodies and will not meddle in their leadership.

The IOC opposes political interference and says governments should respect the autonomy of the Olympic movement.

Mexican sports officials had expressed concern the country could be suspended by the IOC and miss next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro because of a conflict with the government. The sports bodies are facing financial inspections by a national government agency, which is questioning how funds are being spent.

But Miro said the IOC has determined “there is no case” of interference, adding that the government’s request for sports federations to justify their spending was perfectly legitimate.

Miro, speaking on the sidelines of an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, said he would report his findings to the board on Wednesday.

In late October, the IOC suspended Kuwait’s national Olympic committee over government interference, leaving the gulf country’s athletes in limbo for the Rio Games.

But Miro said Mexico was not in the same situation.

“We don’t believe there is an important problem or a conflict with the Olympic Charter or autonomy,” he said. “The government has requested to some national federations to justify the money the government has given to them. That is more than legitimate. This is completely fine.”

The only concern was not with “facts,” but with some statements by government officials suggesting that they could replace some sports federation leaders, Miro said.

“This they cannot do,” he said. “This would be interference in the autonomy.”

Alfredo Castillo, head of Mexico’s National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, has been critical of the Olympic Charter, calling it “the best invention that has been created to avoid monitoring of how public money is spent.”

Miro said there has been an exchange of letters between the IOC and a high-level Mexican minister in charge of sports, who told the Olympic body that the government would continue questioning sports spending but would also “respect completely the autonomy.”

“The letter of the minister is very satisfactory.” Miro said. “If they act as they say, for us it’s absolutely fine.”

The IOC has asked the president of the Mexican Olympic Committee and the secretary general of the Pan American Sports Organization to mediate in case of any dispute between the government and sports bodies.

Mexico won the men’s soccer gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, beating Brazil 2-1 in the final. Mexico won a total of seven medals, including three silver and three bronze.

Miro said there has been no progress on the situation in Kuwait. If the suspension is not lifted before the Rio Games, Kuwaiti athletes will not be eligible to represent their country. In the past, the IOC has allowed athletes from suspended countries to compete as “individual athletes” under the Olympic flag.

Negotiations on government interference in Pakistan have progressed “in a very good way,” Miro said, adding that he would announce a positive result on Wednesday.

MORE: Mexico’s history at the Olympics

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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