MOSCOW (AP) — Still mired in a doping scandal and with a track team banned from international competition, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee said his country may put forth a bid to host the 2028 Games.
Alexander Zhukov said Friday that Russia is considering three cities as candidates for a 2028 bid, even as it battles accusations of a mass doping cover-up at the Sochi Olympics three years ago.
“It’s hard to say now, but why not? I think it’s completely possible to try,” Zhukov told state news agency RIA Novosti. “It’s not just St. Petersburg, we also have Kazan which is a possibility. It’s also possible in Sochi.”
Bidding for the 2024 Games is still under way, with a vote in September set to choose between Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest. The 2028 host is expected to be decided in 2021.
Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but is under intense pressure following accusations of a massive doping cover-up at the games. World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren has said there is evidence that doping test samples given by 12 Russian medal winners at the games were tampered with.
The doping scandals also heavily depleted Russia’s team for last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Evidence of widespread doping meant the entire Russian weightlifting team was banned and only one of the 68-strong track and field team was allowed to compete.
Following McLaren’s report last month, a group of 19 national anti-doping agencies on Tuesday called for Russian teams to be banned from all international sports competitions and for the country to be stripped of hosting major events, including the 2018 World Cup. National anti-doping agencies, however, do not have the powers to impose such sanctions.
Zhukov said the anti-doping agencies were “creating a certain backdrop, putting pressure on the federations.”
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.