Rio 2016 Olympic boss arrested in vote-buying probe

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee was arrested on Thursday amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring the Olympics to Rio.

Carlos Nuzman, who is also an honorary International Olympic Committee member, was held for questioning last month by Brazilian and French authorities. They said he was a central figure in channeling at least $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal who helped secure votes when Rio was picked in 2009 by the IOC.

Brazilian authorities have said the behind-the-scenes dealings to win the vote amounted to a “criminal organization,” led by Sergio Cabral, the former governor of Rio who has been jailed on a different corruption conviction.

Securing the Games for Rio was just the first step in the massive scheme, according to Nuzman’s arrest order. The Olympics led to massive public investment in infrastructure projects and services contracts, opening a pipeline of money that was used to reward friends and allies and pay bribes.

Authorities said Nuzman would be held because investigators found he tried to hamper the investigation by regularizing assets likely gained with illicit money. About two weeks after being held for questioning, Nuzman amended his tax declaration to add about $600,000 in income, the order said.

“He clearly acted to obstruct the investigation,” said the order, adding that the lack of a clear origin of the extra money “indicated it was illicit.”

Leonardo Gryner, director-general of operations for the organizing committee, was also arrested on Thursday.

Investigators said they also recovered a key they believed was for a safe in Switzerland containing gold.

“While Olympic medalists chased their dreams of gold medals, leaders of the Brazilian Olympic Committee stashed their gold in Switzerland,” prosecutor Fabiana Schenider said.

Nuzman’s lawyer, Nelio Machado, told news portal G1 that being detained like this was “harsh and unusual” and denied there had been a vote-buying scheme.

In Nuzman’s last 10 years as Brazilian Olympic Committee president, his net worth increased 457 percent, according to investigators. The 75-year-old Nuzman was one of the most prominent figures in bringing the Games to Rio.

Prosecutors previously laid out a scheme in which Nuzman arranged for businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho’s company to pay Lamine Diack $2 million into an account in the name of Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack. On Thursday, prosecutors said they have since uncovered emails showing the younger Diack asked for more money and received it.

Schenider said she was surprised by the attempts to obstruct the investigation but that the machinations would not thwart justice.

“We are showing that Brazil is no longer a paradise for corrupt people, for thieves,” she said. “We are getting to people who never thought they would have to answer for their actions.”

In a statement, the IOC said it was fully cooperating with the investigation and conducting its own probe.

“Given the new facts, the IOC ethics commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr. Nuzman’s right to be heard,” said the statement, which did not offer more details.

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MORE: IOC seeks more information regarding vote-buying case

Chloe Kim, Elana Meyers Taylor among Olympians to join presidential sports council

Elana Meyers Taylor, President Joe Biden
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Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor are among the Olympic and Paralympic medalists set to join the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition.

President Joe Biden intends to appoint the snowboarder Kim, bobsledder Meyers Taylor, retired Olympic medalists Chaunté Lowe (track and field) and Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell (triathlon) to the council, among other athletes and people in the health and fitness fields, it was announced Friday.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are also on the list.

The council “aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability.”

Last year, Biden appointed basketball gold medalist Elena Delle Donne a co-chair of the council.

Kim, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, sat out this past season but is expected to return to competition for a third Olympic run in 2026.

Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, sat out this past season due to pregnancy. She took her first bobsled run in 13 months this past week in Lake Placid, New York.

There is a long history of Olympians and Paralympians serving on the council, which was created in 1956.

In 2017, Barack Obama appointed medalists including gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Carli Lloyd and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Others to previously be on the council include sprinter Allyson Felix, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer and triathlete Brad Snyder.

Members serve for two years and can be reappointed.

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Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth

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Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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