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Steeplechase gold medalist among latest 2012 Olympic doping positives

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Yulia Zaripova, the Russian gold medalist in the women’s 3000m steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics, was among 12 more athletes sanctioned Monday after testing positive in a reanalysis of their doping samples.

Zaripova was among seven medalists — all from countries of the former Soviet Union — disqualified retroactively from the London Games after their stored samples were retested with improved techniques and came back positive for banned substances.

Also sanctioned Monday by the International Olympic Committee were nine weightlifters, a hammer thrower and a long jumper.

Zaripova tested positive for the steroid turinabol on a urine sample she provided after winning the steeplechase final on Aug. 6, 2012, the IOC said.

Zaripova was already expected to lose the gold medal over a separate doping violation prosecuted by the IAAF. She had previously served a 2½-year ban for irregularities in her biological passport. As a result of that violation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had disqualified all of her results from July 2011 to July 2013, including the London Olympics.

A three-person IOC disciplinary commission said in its ruling that a decision in Zaripova’s case “has already been issued and has become final and binding” and “there is no longer any interest to continue the present proceedings and to issue a decision.”

The panel recommended that the IOC implement the IAAF decision to amend the Olympic results and strip Zaripova of the gold medal. Under the revised results, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia takes the gold, with Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia moving to silver and Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya the bronze.

Other athletes stripped of London medals on Monday were: Alexander Ivanov, Russia, silver, men’s 94-kilogram weightlifting division; Natliya Zabolotnaya, Russia, silver, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Cristina Iovu, Moldova, bronze, women’s 53kg weightlifting; Hripsime Khurshudyan, Armenia, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; Irina Kulesha, Belarus, bronze, women’s 75kg weightlifting; and Anatoli Ciricu, Moldova, bronze, men’s 94kg weightlifting.

The non-medalists were Andrei Demanov, Russia, fourth place, men’s 94kg weightlifting; Oleksandr Dryhol, Ukraine, 34th place, men’s hammer throw; Rauli Tsirekidze, Georgia, ninth place, 85kg weightlifting; Margaryta Tverdokhlib, Ukraine, 26th place, women’s long jump; and Almas Uteshov, Kazakhstan, seventh place, men’s 94kg weightlifting.

The IOC reanalyzed more than 1,000 stored samples from the London Games and 2008 Beijing Games in order to catch cheats who escaped detection at the time. The new tests can detect the use of steroids going back weeks and months, rather than days.

The IOC recorded at least 98 positive tests from the London and Beijing retesting program, with more expected in the pipeline. The IOC also plans to retest samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after the former Russian lab director said samples were manipulated to cover up doping by Russian athletes.

MORE: Two Americans in line for Olympic medals after DQs

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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