Russia files appeal of Olympic track and field ban

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has appealed a ban of its athletics team from next month’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over doping, the country’s Olympic committee said Sunday.

Russian Olympic Committee spokesman Konstantin Vybornov confirmed to The Associated Press by e-mail that the appeal had been filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and would be heard July 19.

If Russia wins, the Olympic application deadline “will be extended” to let Russian athletes apply, the ROC’s legal department head Alexandra Brilliantova told the Tass news agency.

The case is being brought jointly by the ROC and dozens of top Russian athletes.

The IAAF, track’s world governing body, suspended Russia in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field. The ban was upheld by the IAAF in a vote last month.

The IAAF ban already allows a small number of Russians to compete at the Rio Olympics if they can show they have been based outside the country and subject to testing from a respected, non-Russian anti-doping agency.

Brilliantova said Sunday that she believed only two Russians would currently fit the criteria out of more than 80 who have applied to the IAAF. While Brilliantova did not name the duo, they are likely to be the U.S.-based long jumper Daria Klishina, who is a two-time European indoor champion, and the Italy-based pole vaulter Alyona Lutkovskaya.

In addition, the IAAF has already approved an application from Russian athlete and doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, whose testimony of doping within the Russian team, including undercover footage of apparent doping confessions, formed an important part of the evidence against Russia in the WADA investigation.

Stepanova is due to return to competition next week at the European championships, racing in the 800 meters as a so-called “neutral athlete” not representing a particular country.

European Athletics said Sunday that athletes at the championships would wear bibs with messages such as “I run clean,” ”I jump clean” and “I throw clean” in a statement against performance-enhancing drug use.

MORE: Russian whistleblower cleared to compete

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”