Thomas Bach
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More Russian sports could be banned, IOC president says

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LONDON (AP) — The latest allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia could lead to suspension of entire national federations, heavy fines and lifetime Olympic bans, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

Bach declined to say whether the IOC would consider banning Russia entirely from this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, maintaining such a move hinges on a choice between “collective responsibility” and “individual justice.”

“We are waiting for the facts,” Bach said. “We need a fair procedure for everybody. Should the allegations be proven true, we will apply our zero tolerance policy, not only with the athletes, but also with regards to everyone implicated within our reach.”

Bach also said the final results of retests of doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games – which have caught 31 athletes so far – will be known early next month, in time for drug cheats to be barred from going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Bach said allegations that Russian officials subverted the drug-testing system at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi “represent a shocking new dimension in doping” and an “unimaginable level of criminality.”

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Russian lab now living in Los Angeles, told The New York Times last week that he ran an organized doping program for Russian athletes and helped switch tainted samples for clean ones. Rodchenkov said he was helped by people he believed to be Russian security officers.

The IOC has asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to carry out a full-fledged investigation and plans to retest Sochi samples stored at the lab in Lausanne, Switzerland. Bach urged anyone with information about the allegations to come forward immediately to WADA and the IOC.

“If these allegations are true, we will hold everybody responsible who is implicated,” Bach said in a conference call with reporters.

He said sanctions could include lifetime Olympic bans on individuals, financial penalties on organizations and “suspensions or exclusion of entire national federations” – in line with the IAAF’s current suspension of the Russia’s track and field body.

The IAAF suspended Russia from global competition following an investigation by an independent WADA panel that detailed state-sponsored doping, corruption and cover-ups in the country’s track and field program.

The IAAF is scheduled to decide on June 17 whether to maintain or lift the ban on the Russians for the Rio Games.

Bach was asked whether, in light of the Sochi allegations, the entire Russian Olympic Committee could be banned from Rio.

“I will not speculate on the result because there comes a decision we have to make between collective responsibility and individual justice,” he said.

The IOC would have to consider “whether in such contaminated federations the presumption of innocence for athletes could still be applied, whether the burden of proof could be reversed,” he added.

Bach said decisions also have to be made taking into account “the clean athletes around the globe.”

“Whatever the results will be, we will do everything to provide a level playing field for all the athletes around the globe and in this way to protect the integrity of the competition of the Olympic Games in Rio,” he said.

The Russian sports ministry said Wednesday it supports banning drug cheats but claimed it would be unfair to keep a blanket ban on all track athletes for the games.

“We strongly believe that clean athletes, who have spent years of their lives training for the games, should not be deprived of the right to participate,” the ministry said.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the state news agency TASS that Russia was prepared to appoint a foreigner to head its anti-doping agency.

Bach said he had no knowledge of a reported investigation by U.S. federal prosecutors into allegations of state-sponsored doping of Russian athletes. The probe was launched by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, The New York Times reported.

“We have no information on this,” Bach said. “I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know about any legal grounds for this. I don’t know about the scope. I cannot comment on something I do not know.”

Mutko said Russia was surprised by the reported U.S. investigation and suggested the United States should investigate its own national team, because “things are not so rosy there either.”

Bach spoke a day after the IOC announced that 31 unidentified athletes in six sports could be barred from Rio after their Beijing doping samples tested positive. The IOC stores samples for 10 years to allow for retesting with improved techniques.

IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett said the athletes’ “B” samples will be analyzed in early June and the results available a few days later.

The IOC has also retested 250 samples from the 2012 London Olympics. Budgett said provisional results from those tests will be available within a week, with testing of the “B” samples to take place “a couple of weeks later.”

Budgett said athletes will be invited to be present for the testing of the “B” samples. If those tests also come back positive, the IOC can issue provisional suspensions. That would be followed by a disciplinary procedure that could bar athletes from Rio and strip them of their previous Olympic results, including any medals.

Budgett declined to say which substances were detected in the retests, but said the process involved improved methods for detecting steroids and EPO.

Budgett added that a test for gene doping developed by Australian scientists was in the final stages of approval and could be ready for use at the Rio Games.

MORE: Russian official: Rio ban would ‘risk tearing Olympic unity apart’

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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