AP

Brazil Olympic boss sends resignation letter from jail

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Carlos Nuzman sent his resignation letter as head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee from a prison on Wednesday.

He’s been held there since last week amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

The National Olympic Committee immediately designated vice president Paulo Wanderley to replace Nuzman, who had headed the BOC for 22 years. Wanderley will serve the three years remaining on Nuzman’s term.

Speaking after meeting with the BOC’s membership, Wanderley described Nuzman’s resignation as “a relief.”

“The resignation of the president, on a personal level, I think will speed up resolving our problems,” he said.

Nuzman, who also headed the Rio Olympics, had already been suspended as a member by the International Olympic Committee.

Nuzman’s arrest has further tarnished last year’s games, which were plagued budget cuts, spotty attendance, and reports of endemic corruption. They also left behind a half-dozen “white elephant” sports venues.

Brazil officially spent $13 billion to put on the games. A year after, the organizing committee still owes creditors between $30-40 million.

Wanderley said “all of us were taken by surprise” by Nuzman’s arrest and allegations he helped channel at least $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal.

Brazilian and French investigators also said Nuzman had 16 kilos of gold — worth about $750,000 — stored in a depository.

Wanderley’s main job is to convince the IOC to lift Brazil’s suspension, which cuts of some its funding.

“”I will send answers to the IOC as soon as possible to all the questions they have asked us about,” Wanderley said, adding that he’d had a courtesy phone call recently with IOC President Thomas Bach.

As the Olympic body met inside its headquarters, a handful of protesters gathered outside. Many carried placards saying “Give the athletes a true vote.”

Luiz Lima, who quit several months ago as the No. 2 person in the federal sports ministry, was among those carrying a signboard.

Lima, an Olympic swimmer at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, said Brazilian athletes had “almost no power.” He said the 30 federations that make up the Brazilian Olympic Committee each have one vote in setting policy.

He said athletes as a collective have only one.

“This is only one vote in 31, which does not seem like any fair representation,” Lima.

Lima said Brazil’s national government gives the Brazilian Olympic Committee about 200 million reals ($65 million) yearly.

He said in his tenure in the sports ministry he pushed for giving athletes and federations the money directly, bypassing the BOC.

“That got little support and was one of the reasons I left,” he said.

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MORE: Rio Olympics final cost numbers in

Rewind: Australia’s Steven Bradbury gains gold and lasting fame after pileup takes out Apolo Ohno

Steven Bradbury
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Heading into the 2002 Winter Olympics, young American Apolo Ohno was a phenom with a legitimate shot at multiple medals in short-track speedskating.

The 1999 world junior champion and future “Dancing with the Stars” champion had finished first in the World Cup season standings in all three individual disciplines in the 2000-01 season. In the 2001 world championships, he took gold in the relay and the 3,000m (a non-Olympic event), silver in the 1,000m and fourth in the 1,500m.

Australia’s Steven Bradbury was at the other end of his career, enduring all sorts of misfortune in the years that followed — a 1995 accident in which he needed more than 100 stitches after a skate blade sliced his thigh, then a 2000 accident in which he broke two vertebra in his neck. 

The highlights of Bradbury’s career were relay world championships medals — gold in 1991, bronze in 1993, silver in 1994. He and his relay teammates also took Olympic bronze in 1994.

Bradbury barely advanced to one individual final, the 1,000m in 2002. He advanced from the quarterfinal when Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified. He advanced from the semifinal when multiple skaters fell.

In the final, Bradbury was matched up against three outstanding skaters, including Ohno and Li Jiajun of China, who won this event and the overall title at the 2001 world championships. Ohno and Li had finished 1-2 in the 1,000m World Cup standings in 2001.

Bradbury couldn’t keep up. The other four skaters were in a pack, making dangerous passes among each other, while Bradbury fell further and further behind.

Those dangerous passes finally caught up to the rest of the field in the final turn. Li bumped into Ohno, which would lead to Li’s disqualification. After the lead pack jockeyed for position through the entire race, all four tumbled to the ice.

Bradbury, the last man standing, crossed the finish line first.

 

From the tangled pile-up, Ohno managed to fling himself, skate-first, across the finish line to take silver. Canada’s Mathieu Turcotte made it across for bronze.

Ohno wasn’t done in Salt Lake City. He won the 1,500m gold after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung, a controversial decision that made Ohno the object of South Korean derision.

Less controversially, Ohno won three more individual world championship events from 2005 to 2009, plus two relay golds, and the overall world title in 2008. In the Olympics, he took six more medals, including gold in the 500m in 2006 and silver in the 1,500m in 2010.

Bradbury missed the finals in the other two events in Salt Lake City, but his name lives on in the Urban Dictionary and elsewhere as a synonym for an improbable and even accidental victory. He embraced his unique place in history to carve out a career as a motivational speaker delivering more than 1,000 speeches in 19 countries, according to the International Skating Union and has even seen his win commemorated in Legos.

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier form new figure skating pair

Brandon Frazier
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A few weeks after her husband and skating partner, Chris Knierim, stepped away from competitive figure skating, Alexa Scimeca Knierim has a new partner.

Brandon Frazier, who was also looking for someone to form a new pair after longtime partner Haven Denney stepped away from competition, at least temporarily, will join Scimeca Knierim on the ice whenever they’re able to train and compete again.

Frazier is a longtime friend of Chris Knierem. Scimeca Knierim told U.S. Figure Skating’s FanZone that Frazier had played a pivotal role in kindling the Knierem’s off-ice romance.

Denney and Frazier won the U.S. championship in 2017 and finished 20th in the world championships that year. They finished third in their two Grand Prix assignments last fall — Skate America and the Internationaux de France. They were runners-up in the 2019 U.S. championships and fifth this year, when they revived their “Lion King” free skate.

The Denney-Frazier pair took an unusual path to figure skating, starting as roller skaters.

The Knierims won their third U.S. championship in January but handed their slot in the world championships to Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson when Chris Knierim, struggling with his form and depression, decided he was unable to continue beyond the Four Continents Championship. The world championships were later canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.

READ: Resilient Knierims withdraw from world championships

The couple had earned attention for their romance and for their inspirational returns from illness and injury. Their U.S. championship win earlier this year was their third.

Skate America, the first event on the Grand Prix circuit, is scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Las Vegas.

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