Olympic champ among 5 Russian canoeists to get Rio bans

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MOSCOW (AP) — Olympic champion Alexander Dyachenko and four other Russian canoeists have been barred from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after being named in a recent report alleging a state-sponsored doping cover-up.

The International Canoe Federation said Tuesday that the five were mentioned in World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren‘s report last week, which specifically detailed how Russian state officials allegedly intervened to cover up hundreds of failed drug tests.

“This is a bitter blow for the Olympic movement and we are saddened that our sport in implicated,” ICF general secretary Simon Toulson said in a statement. “The ICF will continue its strong zero-tolerance stance and remove all athletes that contravene its rules in anyway … If you step out of line you won’t make the start line.”

While the International Olympic Committee refused Sunday to impose a blanket ban on Russia, it brought in new criteria preventing Russians from competing if they have previously served a ban or were implicated in McLaren’s report.

Dyachenko won gold in the men’s double kayak 200 meters at the 2012 Olympics in London. The four other banned canoeists are Alexei Korovashkov – a 2012 bronze medalist in the C2 1,000 meters event – Andrei Kraitor, Elena Anyushina and Nataliya Podolskaya.

Podolskaya rejected any suggestion of doping, telling Russian news agency R-Sport that “everything written there is pure lies.”

The ICF also said that Russia would not be allowed to enter boats in four events in which the excluded athletes would have raced. Austria, Germany, Sweden and Iran are in line to receive places instead.

Three Russian rowers have also been excluded, taking to at least 15 the number of Russians barred from the Rio Games by various international federations since the International Olympic Committee ruled on Sunday that Russian athletes had to face tougher selection criteria in the wake of the country’s massive doping scandal.

World Rowing said earlier Tuesday that Ivan Podshivalov and Anastasia Karabelshchikova were excluded because they previously served doping bans, while Ivan Balandin from Russia’s men’s eight was implicated in the McLaren report.

On Monday, swimming’s world governing body FINA ruled out seven Russians including reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova.

Russia’s track and field team is almost entirely banned from the games under an earlier decision from the IAAF, leaving long jumper Darya Klishina as the only athlete eligible to represent Russia out of 68 who were entered.

Legal challenges also loom for Russia. Efimova’s agent has said he is preparing an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the Russian Canoe Federation’s general secretary Irina Sirayeva said that the five banned Tuesday could follow.

“The intention to defend the athletes is there,” she told R-Sport. “We’ve spoken about how we want to defend them at CAS but now we need to go over all the information provided once again.”

On Tuesday, triple jumper Ekaterina Koneva – a former world championship silver medalist – told local media she was considering a lawsuit in civil court.

MORE: Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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