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Russia sports chief: Sochi doping claim ‘speculation’

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Russia sports minister Vitaly Mutko dismissed a report that four Sochi Olympic gold medalists were on steroids, calling it “speculation” but not refuting it on Saturday.

A CBS video report to air Sunday includes Russian whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov saying there’s a “Sochi list” of Russian Olympians who were on performance-enhancing drugs while competing at the 2014 Winter Games. The list includes four Sochi gold medalists, according to the report.

CBS News aired a preview of the report Friday night.

Stepanov and his wife previously brought forth evidence of doping in Russian track and field to a German TV station in 2014. Russian track and field has been suspended since November due to its poor anti-doping record, and the ban may last through the Rio Olympics.

“Stepanov is riding his hobby-horse again,” Mutko said Saturday, according to Russian news agency TASS. “His so-called revelations are based on speculations.

“The Olympics in Sochi have ended a long time ago. Not Russia collected doping tests then, and everything was held under very strict control. I don’t know whether we should endlessly refute Stepanov’s [claims]. We will see if there are any legal risks for us, we will think about defense. It’s not the first time.”

The CBS report hasn’t named specific Russian athletes or their sports. Nor does it say any of the athletes failed drug tests.

“What facts does he have, what lists?” Mutko said, according to TASS. “Why did he decide to make another revelation now?”

MORE: Russia track and field Olympic fate gets decision date

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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Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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