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IOC denies covering up 2008 Olympic doping cases from Jamaica

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC denied Monday that it covered up doping cases from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after a German TV program revealed that positive tests by Jamaican sprinters were not prosecuted.

German documentary maker Hajo Seppelt said “several” of the Caribbean island’s athletes had traces of clenbuterol, a banned muscle-building substance, in recent re-tests of 8-year-old urine samples.

No athletes were identified. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won three gold medals in world-record times and was the star of the Beijing Games.

The IOC said Monday it concluded there was no pattern of organized cheating, after consulting the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“After careful consideration, WADA informed the IOC further to the pattern analysis that the IOC had conducted that WADA could not find any significant and consistent pattern of abuse of clenbuterol in these cases and that it would be appropriate not to take these cases any further,” the IOC said in a statement.

The low levels of clenbuterol found, “below 1ng/ml,” was in the range to suggest “potential meat contamination cases,” the IOC said.

China has a reputation for using clenbuterol in livestock farming to increase animals’ muscle, and Olympic athletes were warned of contamination risks before going to Beijing.

Without naming Jamaica, the IOC said the number of clenbuterol cases in the re-tests was widespread.

“During the re-analysis of the stored urine samples from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, the laboratory found in a number of cases of athletes from a number of countries and from a number of different sports, very low levels of clenbuterol,” the IOC said in a statement.

The World Anti-Doping Agency cited a legal precedent when FIFA did not prosecute more than 100 positive tests for clenbuterol among players at the Under-17 World Cup in 2011 in Mexico, which also has a reputation for using the drug in farming.

“We acknowledge that the clenbuterol meat contamination issue is unsatisfactory,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli said in a WADA statement. “We will continue to invest in scientific research to try to solve this issue as quickly as possible.”

Seppelt and German network ARD have consistently revealed and reported on doping scandals, including working with whistleblowers to expose systematic cheating in Russian track and field.

Clenbuterol is best known as the substance that cost Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador the 2010 Tour de France title. Contador claimed his positive test was caused by contaminated beef brought to France from Spain. A Court for Arbitration for Sport panel judged that he did not intend to dope, and had ingested a contaminated supplement. Contador served a two-year ban and was stripped of the 2010 Tour win.

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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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