With Olympics in 3 months, WADA gets Russian doping files

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The World Anti-Doping Agency has obtained files from a Moscow lab that contain data from a period when investigators say Russia ran a state-sponsored system designed to help Olympic athletes evade positive tests.

The data is considered a key piece of evidence as the International Olympic Committee tries to determine the fate of Russian athletes for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Later this month, the WADA board will decide whether to reinstate the suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which would be a key step toward Russia’s overall acceptance to the upcoming Olympics.

As a condition of reinstatement, WADA is requiring “responsible authorities” in Russia to publicly accept outcomes of the investigation conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who outlined evidence of the state-sponsored system. They also are requiring the Russian government to provide access to stored urine samples and electronic data in the Moscow laboratory.

A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that the newly gleaned data did not come from the Russian government. The person did not want to be identified because details of the investigation were not supposed to be made public.

In announcing the acquisition of the data, WADA chairman Craig Reedie said it “serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes.”

Early next month, the executive board of the IOC will meet to discuss Russia’s future.

Two commissions — one looking at individual cases and one looking at the Russian doping program as a whole — are nearing the end of their work.

Already, six Russians have been penalized for violations at the Sochi Games and barred from next year’s Olympics.

Anti-doping leaders are calling for a full ban of the Russian Olympic team, with allowances made for Russian athletes who can prove they’re clean to compete as neutral athletes.

The McLaren Report detailed a scheme in which the Moscow lab would report all positive tests to Russia’s Ministry of Sport, and the ministry would replay with a “save” or “quarantine” order. If a report said “save,” the lab would report the sample as negative in WADA’s database.

WADA said that “by cross-referencing this new intelligence with the McLaren Investigations’ findings and what was reported into (the database), WADA’s evidence base is reinforced.”

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MORE: Figure skating gold medalist cleared in Russia doping investigation

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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