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IOC warns 2018 Olympic organizers of white elephant venues

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The International Olympic Committee warned organizers in Pyeongchang on Thursday that they risk creating white elephants from 2018 Winter Games venues.

Completing a final full inspection visit before the Feb. 9 opening ceremony, an IOC panel predicted a successful Olympics but said “definitive legacy use for several venues is still outstanding.”

“The IOC has once again requested that final plans be presented as a priority,” the Olympic body said in a statement.

Olympic venues that lie underused after the Games is a longstanding problem, and lately hurt the reputation of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC voiced its concern in South Korea “despite legacies being identified in the bid and different options being presented over the past seven years.”

The statement after a three-day visit by the IOC’s coordination panel did not mention political tensions fueled by North Korea’s missile testing program. Olympic events will take place less than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the demilitarized zone between the Korean neighbors.

On a weekend visit to China, North Korea’s closest ally, IOC President Thomas Bach played down fears of disruption.

“We are watching the situation, but I think there is no reason for any immediate concern because the fact that the Games are taking place there is appreciated by all the national Olympic committees and by the governments,” Bach said in Beijing.

Organizers in Pyeongchang remain upbeat that the two-week Winter Games will promote South Korea, which has also been distracted by a political corruption scandal and presidential impeachment.

“We want to make these the best Winter Games ever and showcase Korea to the world as a global leader in sports and as the new hub for winter sports in Asia,” said Lee Hee-beom, president of the organizing committee.

Slow ticket sales, at home and abroad, plus low-key promotion in South Korea have also been identified as priorities to work on. A new phase of ticket sales starts next week.

“While details must continue to be refined in the coming months, it was evident that the organizing committee is well on its way to delivering successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” said Gunilla Lindberg, who chairs the IOC inspection panel.

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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

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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.

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