Russia’s Anna Chicherova stripped of 2008 Olympic bronze medal

Anna Chicherova
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian high jumper Anna Chicherova was stripped of her bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics on Thursday, the latest athlete sanctioned after the retesting of stored doping samples.

Chicherova, who won the gold medal at the 2012 London Games, tested positive for turinabol and has been retroactively disqualified from Beijing, the International Olympic Committee said.

The Russian Olympic Committee should secure the return of her bronze medal “as soon as possible,” the IOC said.

The IOC also asked track’s governing body, the IAAF, to consider any further sanctions against the 34-year-old Chicherova, who is still active but could face a two-year ban.

Another Russian – Yelena Slesarenko – finished fourth in the high jump in Beijing. She stands to move up to the bronze if the IOC decides to reallocate the medals.

The IOC ruling made no mention of Chicherova’s gold medal from London, which appears to be unaffected. She told Russian media earlier this year that retests of her 2012 sample came back negative.

The IAAF said it would cancel all of Chicherova’s results from 2008 to 2010, including her silver medal at the 2009 world championships in Berlin. Chicherova won gold at the 2011 worlds.

The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years to allow for them to be reanalyzed when improved testing methods become available. The new tests can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.

The IOC has recorded 98 positive cases in recent retests of more than 1,000 samples from Beijing and London.

The IOC’s 22-page written decision in the Chicherova case cited a pattern of delay and obstruction by the athlete and her legal team.

“The IOC first noted that the athlete and her counsel had been deliberately attempting to obstruct the process, first the analytical process and then the disciplinary proceedings,” the ruling said.

The IOC also noted that turinabol “was a doping substance commonly used in Russia in the concerned period.”

Chicherova won the high jump at the Russian nationals in June, clearing 1.98 meters.

She would have been a potential medal contender at the Rio Games. The IAAF banned the Russian track team – apart from U.S.-based long jumper Darya Klishina – from the games over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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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.”