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Norway ski star banned from Olympics over lip cream

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Norwegian cross-country skiing champion Therese Johaug is set to miss the PyeongChang Olympics over lip cream.

Johaug, a triple Olympic medalist and seven-time world champion, tested positive last September for a steroid found in a cream given to her by a team doctor to treat sunburned lips.

Johaug claimed the doctor told her it was OK to use, but she failed to check clear warning labels and was suspended all last season up to this November.

On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport extended her current doping ban into April, through the Olympics in February.

The court ruling came after an appeal by the International Ski Federation, which felt the original 13-month ban handed down by Norwegian sports officials was too lenient.

“I am heartbroken,” a tearful Johaug said at a news conference within an hour of the announcement, according to The Associated Press. “I had a dream to get to the Olympics. I think it is unfair, I feel I was unfairly treated.”

Norway’s Olympic Committee had previously banned the 29-year-old from October 2016 to November 2017, saying she was not at significant fault.

“I am not guilty. I asked the [team] doctor, and he said it was not on the doping list,” Johaug said at an Oct. 19 news conference, wiping tears away with her hands (video here), according to the AP. “And he said no.”

In March, the International Ski Federation appealed for a longer ban of 16 to 20 months, which would rule her out of the Winter Games. The federation argued that Johaug deserved more fault in part because the medication was “unknown to her and was purchased in a foreign country.”

A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel decided to give Johaug an 18-month ban for her negligence in missing a clear warning label listing the banned substance.

“Johaug failed to conduct a basic check of the packaging, which not only listed a prohibited substance as an ingredient but also included clear doping cautionary warning,” the court said in a press release.

Though Johaug had an “otherwise clean anti-doping record,” the panel chose to follow the letter of the World Anti-Doping Code, which calls for a 12-to-24-month suspension in this type of case.

Johaug was the world’s top cross-country skier in 2015-16, winning the World Cup overall title.

In her absence, two other Norwegians starred last season — Heidi Weng and 10-time Olympic medalist Marit Bjoergen, who was coming back from childbirth.

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MORE: U.S. cross-country skiers mark most successful world champs

Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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