Russian officials deny report they admitted to doping program

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The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and its director general denied a New York Times report that Russian officials, including the director general, admitted that a doping program for the Sochi Olympics took place.

To be clear, Russian sports officials, specifically former sports minister Vitaly Mutko, have for months admitted that there is a doping problem in the country.

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported that Russian officials “admitted they carried out widespread Olympic doping.”

“It was an institutional conspiracy,” RUSADA director general Anna Antseliovich said, according to the newspaper, which added that she spoke “of years’ worth of cheating schemes, while emphasizing that the government’s top officials were not involved.”

On Wednesday, Antseliovich said her words were taken out of context, according to a Facebook account reported to be hers by Russian media.

Also Wednesday, RUSADA said Antseliovich’s words “institutional conspiracy” were taken out of context. They were referring to a summation of the previously published McLaren report on Russian doping, RUSADA said.

“[The newspaper report] created an impression that RUSADA management admits to the existence of such institutional conspiracy of doping cover-up in Russia,” RUSADA’s statement read. “We would like to stress that RUSADA has no authority to admit to or deny any such fact, since the investigation of the case is handled by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.”

The International Olympic Committee has said there is evidence of violations regarding Russian athletes’ doping samples in Sochi.

The IOC opened disciplinary cases against 28 Russian athletes from Sochi “for whom there is evidence of manipulation of one or more of their urine samples” from those Winter Games.

Six Russian cross-country skiers have already been provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in connection with the IOC disciplinary cases.

Russian media reported the six include the two most decorated Russian skiers from the Sochi Olympics — 50km gold and silver medalists Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin.

FIS would not confirm or deny the names. The Russia Ski Association has not responded to a request for comment.

MORE: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in organized doping, report says

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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