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Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

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SANTA CATERINA VALFURVA, Italy (AP) — Bode Miller is still planning on racing again. Just probably not this season.

U.S. Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick said that Miller told him he no longer plans on coming over to Europe for training in January.

“He sent me a text. He said, ‘Count me in coach in the future. I’m coming back. Just things are not looking good for me to travel this January,'” Rearick told The Associated Press on Thursday at a World Cup combined race.

Earlier this month, a lawsuit Miller had filed against his former sponsor and ski manufacturer Head was dismissed.

Miller ended his nearly 10-year partnership with Head in 2015 and signed an agreement not to use other skis in World Cup or world championship races for two years.

Miller was attempting to get out of the remainder of the deal so that he could race on skis by New York-based Bomber, which he helped develop.

However, Miller would be free to race on Bomber next season and at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, when he’ll be 40.

If that’s the plan, Rearick wants Miller to start training immediately — even if he can’t race due to the contract issues.

“I hope he comes back and I hope we get a full prep period in. That’s what is going to be key,” Rearick said. “If we decide to do this, let’s go full at it. Let’s not just do one camp here and Colorado. Let’s go at it full and let’s start now. Those are going to me my conversations that I have with him next week.”

Miller has not raced since severing his right hamstring tendon in February 2015 and did not show much speed during a brief training camp at Copper Mountain in Colorado last month, trailing several teammates.

There were questions in Colorado not only over Miller’s physical form but also his equipment, which is unproven on the World Cup circuit.

Is the equipment good enough for Miller to succeed on?

“Why not? It’s Bode Miller,” Rearick said.

Head racing director Rainer Salzgeber said there is a standing offer for Miller to race on Head as soon as he wants.

“We would welcome him back but I don’t expect that he wants to call us because it’s not a matter of real competitive skiing, otherwise he would need to be really prepared,” Salzgeber said.

Chris Krause, Miller’s ski technician, also left Head for Bomber.

“That’s why it would be quite easy to get him back on our stuff, because we would support him with the staff and Chris could tune the skis — everything’s easy,” Salzgeber said, adding that Miller’s old skis are still stored in Head’s warehouse in Austria.

Rearick also believes Miller could add to his haul of six Olympic medals in Pyeongchang.

“Bode is going to do something. But first he’s going to have to qualify for the Olympics,” the coach said. “We have a strong team in downhill. But I expect Bode to come out here and work hard and charge and bring the love of the sport to the team.

“There’s no doubt that Bode loves the sport more than most people and he loves going out there and competing and expressing himself on snow and that’s what I expect him to do, whether he’s 40, 41 or like he did when he was 24.”

Miller did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, there is no scheduled return date for Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, who is out nursing a sore back.

“We’re just trying to get this therapy to take effect right now,” Rearick said. “We’re not putting any timeline on when he’s coming back.”

Ligety has not competed since failing to finish the first run of a giant slalom in Alta Badia on Dec. 18.

“The first step is let the therapies take effect, second is once they’ve taken effect step progressively back into skiing — start out with free skiing, progress back into some easy training, then more challenging training,” Rearick said. “If all of that stuff goes well then we’ll start racing.”

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Weightlifting investigation finds doping cover-ups

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren said Thursday.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

McLaren said former IWF president Tamas Ajan was “an autocratic leader” who kept the board in the dark about finances. Ajan received cash payments, some as much as $100,000, as doping fines from national federations or sponsors, McLaren said.

He said $10.4 million was unaccounted for.

“Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers),” McLaren said. “Some cash was accounted for, some was not.”

McLaren said Ajan “permitted the (federation) elections to be bought by vote brokers” as he kept the presidency and promoted favored officials. Large cash withdrawals were made ahead of federation congresses, McLaren said, adding that voters were bribed and had to take pictures of their ballots to show to brokers.

The 81-year-old Ajan stepped down in April, ending a 20-year reign as president and a total 44 years in federation posts. A month before that he also gave up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.

McLaren’s investigation was sparked in January when German broadcaster ARD reported financial irregularities at the federation and apparent doping cover-ups.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s lead investigator for Russian doping and has judged cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Weightlifting’s reputation under Aján had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

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MORE: Coco Gauff delivers speech demanding change

Coco Gauff delivers speech, demands change, promises to use platform

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Coco Gauff, the 16-year-old tennis star, delivered a speech at a peaceful protest in her hometown on Wednesday, demanding change and promising to use her platform to spread vital information.

“I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement,” Gauff told a crowd, holding an affixed microphone atop a lectern in front of Delray Beach City Hall in Florida, after her grandmother spoke. “You need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.'”

Earlier this week, Gauff posted links on her social media accounts — with more than 800,000 combined followers — to register to vote and a petition for justice for the death of George Floyd. On Wednesday, she shared video of her participating in a march, saying her hometown police chief was part of the group.

Click here for NBC News’ coverage of Floyd’s death and protests in Minneapolis and around the country.

Last summer, Gauff, then 15, became the youngest player to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. She followed that with third- and fourth-round runs at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, sandwiched between her first WTA Tour title.

The full text of the beginning of her speech, which she shared on social media:

“Hello everyone. My name is Coco, and who just spoke was my grandma. I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago. So I’m here to tell you guys this: that we must, first, love each other no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with my friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement. Second, we need to take action. Yes, we’re all out here protesting, and I’m not of age to vote, but it’s in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother’s future and for your future. So that’s one way to make change. Third, you need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.’ So, you need to not be silent, because if you are choosing silence, you’re choosing the side of the oppressor. So, I’ve heard many things this past week. One of the things I’ve heard is, well, it’s not my problem. This is why I have to tell you this. If you listen to black music. If you like black culture. If you have black friends. Then this is your fight, too. It’s not your job. It’s not your duty to open your mouth to say, ‘Lil Uzi Vert‘s my favorite artist, but I don’t care what happened to George Floyd.’ Now how does that make sense? So, I demand change now. It’s sad that it takes another black man’s life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor. This is about stuff that’s been happening. I was 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. So why am I here at 16 still demanding change? And it breaks my heart because I’m fighting for the future for my brothers. I’m fighting for the future for my future kids. I’m fighting for the future for my future grandchildren. So, we must change now, and I promise to always use my platform to spread vital information.”

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