Getty Images

More Russian Olympic skiers banned, Sochi medals stripped

1 Comment

MOSCOW (AP) — Four more Russian cross-country skiers were found guilty of doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Thursday, including silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin.

The Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation said the four have been disqualified by the International Olympic Committee and banned from all future Olympics. The IOC later confirmed.

The other three skiers found guilty are Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Yevgenia Shapovalova. Vylegzhanin won three silver medals in Sochi, but none of the others won a medal.

Six Russian cross-country skiers have now been found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics by an IOC commission. Alexander Legkov, who won 50km gold ahead of Vylegzhanin in a Russian sweep, and Evgeny Belov were banned last week.

Vylegzhanin also finished second in the team sprint and the 4x10km relay. Russia’s relay silver was already stripped last week when Legkov was banned.

The IOC bans leave Russia with only one medal in cross-country skiing, the bronze won by Ilya Chernousov in the 50K. The IOC will decide if he should be upgraded to gold.

Russia remains at the top of the Sochi medals table, but more verdicts are expected which could affect other golds, potentially pushing the Russians below Norway.

Without positive doping tests, the IOC disciplinary panel used evidence of cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles that was first gathered last year by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

With calls to ban Russia’s team from the PyeongChang Olympics likely to increase, the IOC’s executive board will meet from Dec. 5-7 to discuss the matter.

The Russian ski federation said it is preparing an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the four cases announced Thursday. Legkov and Belov have also said they will appeal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin disputed the bans, saying evidence of tampering wasn’t proof of guilt.

In comments reported by Russian news agencies, Putin didn’t mention the skiers by name but said his government had never supported or covered up doping.

Putin also claimed that U.S. interests were trying to use Russia’s doping scandals to discredit the government and influence the country’s presidential election in March.

“In response to our supposed interference in their elections, they want to cause problems in the Russian presidential election,” he said.

Putin is widely expected to run for re-election but has yet to confirm that.

Russian sports officials reacted angrily to the new bans.

“[The IOC] is just spitting on us and thinking we’ll swallow it,” Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation vice president Sergei Kryanin told the R-Sport agency. “Why is it issuing these rulings with no proof?”

The cross-country World Cup season starts on Nov. 24.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Russian skier stripped of Olympic gold defiant in Instagram post

Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Joe Girardi replaced as U.S. baseball manager by World Series champion

Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!