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Russian skier stripped of gold medal, banned from Olympics vows to fight

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Alexander Legkov, the cross-country skier stripped of his Sochi gold and silver medals and banned for life from the Olympics last week in Russia’s doping probe, said he will fight that decision in a 781-word Instagram post on Monday.

Legkov, the only Russian skier to win Olympic gold in Sochi, posted an image of himself holding his Sochi gold and silver medals with the text. He posted it in Russian, then in a second post in English.

Russian media reported the statement was first posted on the website of Legkov’s lawyer on Saturday.

He wrote that his stripped Olympic 50km cross-country gold medal “is clean.”

The text read:

It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel.

A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain.

For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you’ve done and you know what I’ve done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating.

In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race.

Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals.

The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called “cocktail”, I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called “cocktail” was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary designer drug. The substances were part of the standard test routine. If I had tried to use the cocktail, I would have been discovered.

Until today no witness statement is shown to me or my lawyer in which a person claims that he or she offered performing enhancing drugs to me or claims that he or she took from me in an irregular manner clean urine. Not even Prof McLaren claimed that about an individual athlete.

Instead, I’ve been punished.

IOC ordered a forensic expert but they did not follow him. They decided in contrast to him and in contrast to Prof Mclaren. My lawyer demanded for DNA analysis for 10 months and they missed to conduct it for me and all the other athletes. We were at Court of Arbitration and they ruled the facts meet not the standard of comfortable satisfaction which is required for a sanction – and IOC said it doesn’t matter and sanctioned me.

Every athlete knows how hard it is to explain day by day where you are in whereabout and to be visited nearly any time of a day and night by an Doping Control Officer, for me more than 150 times. They are discussing to chip us or using GPS.

I want to ask myself, my teammates, my opponents and all the other athletes: if this does not prove anything and does not protect us from a diffuse suspicion, why do we do this?

We are all forced to submit to a sanction procedure from which none of us can be sure that it is fair and free of other interests. Every athlete no matter of which nation can come in the same situation.

The only thing what I want is to be treated fairly, to have independent arbitrators within a fair procedure ruled by law. Either at Court of Arbitration for Sport, or at Swiss Federal Court or the European High Court.

Instead, they sanctioned me.

I am Alexander Gennadjewitsch Legkov, Cross Country Skier, Winner of the Gold Medal in 50km mass start at Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi and my medal is clean. I stand upright and fight.

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It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel. A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain. For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you've done and you know what I've done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating. In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race. Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals. The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called "cocktail", I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called "cocktail" was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary 👇

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

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