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Russian track and field stars cleared to compete as neutral athletes

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Russia’s two gold medalists from the 2015 World Championships were among seven athletes from the country cleared to compete as neutral athletes by the IAAF on Tuesday.

Sergey Shubenkov and Maria Kuchina, reigning world champions in the 110m hurdles and high jump, respectively, can now compete internationally for the first time in more than one year.

Russia has been banned from international track and field since November 2015 due to serious doping issues. One Russian track and field athlete competed in Rio, long jumper Darya Klishina as a neutral athlete.

Russia’s ban is set to last through the 2017 season, including the world championships in London in August.

A doping review board examines applications by Russians to compete as neutral athletes. The IAAF has received about 100 applications this year and ruled on 27 so far, accepting 10 and declining 17.

“There can be no time constraints on a process which has been established to safeguard the rights and aspirations of the world’s clean athletes and is about rebuilding confidence in competition,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “For the avoidance of any doubt as we have consistently stated from the beginning of this process, all athletes given exceptional eligibility will compete as independent neutral athletes and not as a Russian team.”

Twelve Russian athletes total have been cleared to compete as neutral athletes since July:

Illia Mudrov (pole vault)
Sergey Shubenkov (sprint hurdles)
Sergey Shirobokov (race walks)
Daniil Tsyplakov (high jump)
Maria Kuchina (high jump)
Olga Mullina (pole vault)
Yana Smerdova (race walks)
Anzhelika Sidorova (pole vault)
Kristina Sivkova (sprints)
Aleksei Sokirskii (hammer throw)
Darya Klishina (long jump, cleared in 2016)
Yuliya Stepanova (800m/1500m, cleared in 2016)

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MORE: IOC member apologizes for linking Russian ban to Nazis

Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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