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Russia could bid for 2028 Summer Olympics, mulls 3 cities

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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.”

MORE: 2028 Olympic bidding news

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future