IOC supports IAAF ban of Russia track and field for Olympics

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LONDON (AP) — The IOC threw its support behind the decision to ban Russia’s track and field team from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and said Saturday it will take “further far-reaching measures” to crack down on doping ahead of the games.

The International Olympic Committee said it “welcomes and supports” and “fully respects” Friday’s ruling by track and field’s world governing body to maintain its ban on Russia because of widespread doping.

The IOC, which has ultimate authority over the Olympics, also noted that the IAAF has control over which track and field athletes are eligible to compete at the games.

“The eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation,” the IOC said.

The strong statement appeared to rule out any possibility of the IOC trying to overturn or amend the IAAF decision. There had been speculation that the IOC could try to impose a compromise that would allow Russian athletes without doping violations to be able to compete.

However, by accepting the IAAF decision and the federation’s jurisdiction over the athletes, the IOC indicated it will not interfere. That suggests Russia’s only recourse for fighting the decision will be at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Earlier Saturday, IOC vice president John Coates said he didn’t think the committee would overturn the IAAF ruling.

“I’d be very, very surprised,” he said. “It’s an international federation’s right to suspend a national federation and I don’t think we would overturn that at all.”

The IOC statement also appeared to open the door to potential further sanctions against Russian or other athletes.

“The IOC will initiate further far-reaching measures in order to ensure a level playing field for all the athletes taking part in the Olympic Games” in Rio, it said, without elaborating.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Russian agency R-Sport that the IOC statement was a major blow to the country’s hopes of sending a track team to Rio.

“Judging by the statement, our athletes have no chance,” Mutko said, but added Russia would continue to push for their inclusion.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the IAAF decision as “unfair” and “collective punishment.”

The IOC statement was issued after a teleconference meeting of the IOC executive board. It came three days ahead of a summit of sports leaders called by the IOC to address eligibility issues for the games and “the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice.”

The IOC said Tuesday’s meeting “will address the situation of the countries in which the national anti-doping organization has been declared non-compliant by WADA for reasons of the non-efficient functioning of the national anti-doping system.”

In addition to Russia, Kenya is listed as non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency code and has been hit by numerous drug scandals in recent years.

On Friday, the IAAF opened a “tiny crack” that would allow any individual Russian athletes who have been untainted by doping and have been subjected to effective testing outside Russia to apply to compete in the games.

However, the IAAF said those athletes would be few – a handful – and would be eligible to compete only as “individuals” and not under the Russian flag. Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova was also given the chance to apply to compete as an independent athlete.

German track and field federation president Clemens Prokop, in welcoming the IAAF’s decision, called for opening “a new front” against doping in others sports and other countries.

“This can only be a start and not the end of a worldwide struggle against doping,” he said.

Prokop said Russia had a problem not only with track and field and that expulsion of Russia’s entire team should be considered.

“I can’t believe that the systematic doping in Russia is only limited to athletics,” Prokop said.

Russia’s track federation did not directly address the question of a possible appeal to CAS but said Saturday it “will use all the legal opportunities it has” to ensure Russian athletes compete in Rio.

“We will insist on the rights of clean athletes and will definitely return to the international arena,” it said.

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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