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10 visually impaired Russian athletes banned for doping

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MOSCOW (AP) — Ten visually impaired Russian athletes in powerlifting have been banned for doping in a case linked to claims that some of them may have been doped without their knowledge.

The 10 athletes made up almost the entire national team. Nine of them were medalists at the 2015 World Championships for blind and visually impaired powerlifters, and only three of the 13-strong Russian team from that competition remain eligible to compete.

The Russian anti-doping agency said in a statement Thursday that eight athletes were banned for four years, with two earning eight-year bans. It didn’t give further details of their offenses.

The agency says the sanctions were backdated to May 2015, the time of the championships, meaning the athletes stand to lose their medals.

Documents released by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Russian drug use show that in May 2015 the then-head of Moscow’s drug-testing laboratory complained that blind powerlifters were being exploited by unscrupulous coaches.

That followed a string of positive tests for steroids.

Calling the situation “a disgrace,” laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov wrote that coaches were “picking on the blind … they can’t even see what people are giving them.”

Those documents haven’t been independently verified by The Associated Press.

Russia’s entire team was barred from last year’s Paralympics after WADA investigations found evidence of widespread drug use and a cover-up.

The powerlifters who have been banned wouldn’t have been able to compete at the Paralympics, though, since Paralympic powerlifting is only open to athletes with impairments to their lower limbs or hips.

The International Blind Sports Federation and the International Paralympic Committee didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Yelena Shushunova, 1988 Olympic all-around champion, dies at 49

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Yelena Shushunova, the 1988 Olympic all-around champion, died Thursday at age 49, according to Russia’s gymnastics federation.

Shushunova died of complications from pneumonia, a Russia gymnastics federation official said, according to TASS.

Shushunova earned two golds, a silver and a bronze at the Seoul 1988 Games at age 19. She beat Romanian Daniela Silivas by .025 of a point in the all-around, needing and scoring a 10 on her final apparatus on vault.

Shushunova also earned 11 medals between the 1985 and 1987 World Championships in one of the most impressive Olympic cycles for a gymnast.

She made the Soviet national team in time for the 1984 Olympics, but the nation boycotted the Los Angeles Games.

Simone Biles details lip tattoo

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BOSTON — If you thought Simone Biles looked like nothing had changed in her comeback meet, think again.

What you won’t see on camera on the U.S. Gymnastics Championships this week is Biles’ new tattoo — on the inside of her bottom lip.

“It just says XO,” she said. “It’s a little faded. I need to get it touched up. … I’ve always wanted a lip tat, and I heard it didn’t hurt. So I went and got one.”

It was Biles’ second tattoo. She revealed in March the popular Olympic rings ink on her right forearm.

Biles said there’s a story that explains why the lip tattoo has faded, but she can’t share it.

“It has something to do with [turning 21],” she said, laughing. Biles, who turned 21 in March, paused, then added one last line.

“I’m a good child!”

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