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IOC looks into report of Brazilian-linked payment before 2016 Olympic host city vote

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LONDON (AP) — Former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks turned himself over to the IOC ethics commission following a French newspaper report linking him to a payment from a man who has been banned for life from track and field for corruption.

The payment of $299,300 to an offshore company linked to Fredericks came in 2009 on the day that Rio de Janeiro was awarded hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics, French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday.

Fredericks, a Namibian sprinter who won silver medals in the 100m and 200m at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, is a member of the International Olympic Committee and currently the head of the evaluation commission for the 2024 Olympics.

“He informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasized his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an email. “The IOC trusts that Mr. Fredericks will bring all the elements to prove his innocence against these allegations made by Le Monde.”

According to the newspaper report, Matlock Capital Group paid $1.5 million to Pamodzi Consulting, a company founded by Papa Massata Diack, ahead of the 2016 Olympic hosting vote and transferred another $500,000 to Diack’s Russian bank account. Diack is a former marketing director at the IAAF and son of the organization’s former president, Lamine Diack.

Both Diacks are being investigated by French prosecutors on corruption charges linked to covering up Russian doping cases in a separate scandal. Papa Massata Diack was banned for life as part of that investigation.

Matlock Capital Group, the newspaper says, is a holding company linked to Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.

Le Monde says Diack transferred $299,300 to Yemi Limited, the company linked to Fredericks, on Oct. 2, the same day Rio won a vote to host the 2016 Olympics and bring the Games to South America for the first time.

“The IOC has taken note of the serious allegations … regarding the vote to select the host city of the Olympic Games 2016,” Adams said. “The IOC is ‘Partie Civile’ to the ongoing procedure initiated by the French Judicial authorities against former IAAF President Mr. Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, the then marketing consultant of the IAAF. The IOC remains fully committed to clarifying this situation, working in cooperation with the prosecutor.”

Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, denied any link to alleged bribery.

“We ran a clean election, and all the documents, everything we had on the campaign are open to the public and to the French investigators,” Andrada said, adding that French investigators had not contacted the committee.

The IOC said Fredericks, who had a marketing contract with Pamodzi Sports Consulting from 2007-11, had already turned himself over to the IAAF ethics commission as well.

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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