IOC president wants life bans for Russian cheats

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian athletes and officials who are proven to have been part of a doping “manipulation system” should be banned for life from the Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach said Thursday.

Bach gave his personal view one day before Canadian investigator Richard McLaren publishes a final report into alleged state-backed cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Proof of systematic doping would be “aggravated circumstances” to justify life bans, the IOC leader said at a news conference after a three-day executive board meeting.

“I would not like to see this person again at any Olympic Games in any function,” Bach said, noting that as an IOC disciplinary commission chairman he approved life bans for Austrian team members implicated in doping at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.

However, proving that individual athletes knew of systematic doping involving state agencies could be difficult.

McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in May, is expected to give more detail about cheating operations at the Sochi laboratory.

In his interim report in July, McLaren confirmed claims by former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov of a hole-in-the-wall swapping system aided by the FSB security agency to exchange athletes’ dirty urine samples for clean ones.

Earlier Thursday, the IOC member appointed to oversee disciplinary cases that arise from McLaren’s evidence acknowledged they could be tough to prove.

“Can you prove (athletes) were aware?” Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer, said on the sidelines of a sports law conference in Geneva.

“It is not that we would be scared to attack high level people in the Russian regime,” the Swiss lawyer said. “The question is more on the legal point of view. Can you punish athletes if they have done nothing and whether they were not aware of what was happening?”

Bach has also appointed a second IOC commission, headed by former Switzerland president Samuel Schmid, to evaluate if McLaren’s report and evidence proves a state-run doping system.

“And then based on that we will see if we can start cases against athletes,” Oswald said.

Meanwhile, United States lawmakers want Bach to attend a congressional committee hearing next Thursday to provide an update on sports’ fight against doping.

“Unfortunately I cannot attend there,” said Bach, adding that the IOC will “provide by other means all the information they may need.”

MORE: Russia sets 2018 Olympics medal target

Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

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Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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2023 World Junior Gymnastics Championships live stream schedule

World Junior Gymnastics Championships
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The world junior gymnastics championships individual finals stream live on the International Gymnastics Federation YouTube channel from Friday through Sunday.

Already this week, Japan swept the men’s and women’s team titles in Antalya, Turkey. The U.S. women took silver.

The U.S. women in Friday’s all-around final are Izzy Stassi (qualified fourth) and Jayla Hang (qualified 22nd). The U.S. men in Friday’s all-around final are Kai Uemura (qualified 11th) and David Shamah (qualified 14th).

Americans also advanced to four of this weekend’s apparatus finals: women’s vault (Stassi, Hang), uneven bars (Hezly Rivera) and floor exercise (Rivera, Hang) and men’s still rings (Uemura).

Gymnastics added a biennial junior worlds starting in 2019. The 2021 edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women ages 14 or 15 and men ages 15 through 18 compete.

The U.S. team in 2019 included future senior world team members Skye Blakely, Kayla DiCello and Konnor McClain.

2023 World Junior Gymnastics Championships Live Stream Schedule

Day Competition Time (ET) Platform
Friday Men’s All-Around 7:30 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Women’s All-Around 12 p.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Saturday Apparatus Finals 7 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK
Sunday Apparatus Finals 7 a.m. FIG YouTube | LIVE STREAM LINK

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