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China Olympic athletes must sign pledges not to cheat in Rio

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BEIJING (AP) — Seeking to dismiss lingering doubts, a top Chinese sports official says the country has committed to a zero-tolerance stance on doping ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Vice Director of the General Administration of Sports Gao Zhidian told the official Xinhua News Agency on Thursday that Olympics-bound athletes and coaches are required to sign pledges not to cheat, saying violators would be severely punished.

Gao said athletes, coaches and team doctors must also pass a written exam on banned substances with only those scoring 80 percent or more permitted to go to Rio.

“China has been firmly against doping and has a zero-tolerance approach to this particular problem,” said Gao, who is also deputy chef de mission of China’s 711- member Olympic delegation. “We have made it very clear that we want to ensure fair play and the well-being of athletes.”

China has sought to shake off a reputation for doping, particularly in distance running and swimming that gave rise to multiple scandals in the 1990s.

That resolve was questioned when it emerged that officials waited six months before revealing that champion swimmer Sun Yang served a three-month suspension after testing positive in May 2014.

Sun, the gold medalist in the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, was named male swimmer of the meet at the world championships in Kazan, Russia, last August.

China is sending 416 athletes to Rio, including 35 former Olympic champions. China topped the table at the 2008 Games and won the second largest number of medals in London, including 38 golds.

Based on recent performances by Chinese athletes, some studies predict the country could return to the top of the table at Rio with as many as 39 golds.

MORE: China’s Olympic roster its second-largest ever

IOC pledges €500,000 to help restore Notre Dame ahead of 2024 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee plans to donate €500,000 ($562,000) to the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in the 2024 Olympic host city.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he wants to see Notre Dame restored within five years.

“The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us,” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in a Wednesday letter to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, according to a translation by Agence France-Presse, which reported Notre Dame is on the planned marathon and road cycling routes. “All the Olympic Movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

More than $500 million has been pledged overall from around the globe after a fire ravaged the 850-year-old cathedral on Monday.

NBC News has more on the Notre Dame fire here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Patrick Kane joined by NHL All-Stars on world championship roster

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NHL All-Stars Jack EichelRyan Suter and Cory Schneider join previously named captain Patrick Kane to lead the U.S. at next month’s world hockey championship in Slovakia, seeking the nation’s first title at a standalone worlds since 1933.

Sixteen players were added to the roster in Thursday’s announcement with more to come before worlds open May 10 and more teams get eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, making more players available. The IIHF allows up to 25 players per nation.

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill will be the U.S. head coach for a third straight worlds. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals in 2017 and earned bronze in 2018, sandwiching an Olympic quarterfinal exit in PyeongChang without NHL players.

Sweden is trying to become the first nation to three-peat at worlds since the Czech Republic in 2001.

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Preliminary IIHF World Championship Roster
Forwards

Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres)
Luke Glendening (Detroit Red Wings)
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes)
Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)
Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings)
James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia Flyers)
Frank Vatrano (Florida Panthers)
Colin White (Ottawa Senators)

Defensemen
Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)
Alec Martinez (Los Angeles Kings)
Brady Skjei (New York Rangers)
Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)

Goalies
Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks)
Cayden Primeau (Laval (AHL))
Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)