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World bobsled and skeleton championships, stripped from Sochi, get new host

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Germany will host this season’s bobsled and skeleton world championships, which were pulled out of Russia after numerous competitors considered a boycott in response to that nation’s widespread doping program.

Koenigssee was the track selected by the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for the championships, which will be held Feb. 13-26 — even though some nations felt they could be moved a week earlier. Koenigssee will also host a weekend of World Cup racing in January.

Sochi lost the hosting rights last week in the fallout of the Russian doping scandal. The track at Krasnaya Polyana was used for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren concluded was corrupted by a state-backed doping program.

That led to a number of athletes and teams talking boycott.

“For me personally, I’m just happy that it was moved and we will still get to have a world championships with full participation from all nations,” said U.S. skeleton slider Matt Antoine, who was going to boycott if the event was in Russia as scheduled. “I still want to compete in the world championships. I just wasn’t going to do it in Russia.”

Koenigssee has a history of stepping in as a replacement site. The 2011 World Championships were originally awarded to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, then moved to Koenigssee two years before the event because of track concerns.

This time, they’re moving with worlds less than two months away — an unprecedented scramble following an unprecedented scandal.

The Russians have said they will not boycott worlds, even going as far as to say that they understood why the IBSF made the decision.

Many athletes cited the integrity of the doping process as their primary concern about competing at the worlds in Russia, especially after the second McLaren report was released showing the depth of the doping program there.

McLaren’s report showed that some Russian gold medalists from the Sochi Games were tainted by doping. Russia won gold medals in two-man bobsled, four-man bobsled and men’s skeleton at the Olympics, though none of the athletes who got those victories has been implicated by any known positive or tampered-with tests.

“We will come and prove that we are able to fight at any championship,” Russian Bobsled Federation president Alexander Zubkov, a winner of two gold medals at the Sochi Games, told reporters from Russia last week.

Park City, Utah, was also under consideration to host.

MORE: Bobsled, luge, skeleton broadcast schedule

Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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