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U.S. skeleton sliders want global drug-testing standards to match those in U.S.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — There was an offseason when U.S. skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender got a knock on her door from drug testers 19 times in the span of a few weeks. Sometimes they wanted blood. Sometimes they wanted urine. Often, they wanted both.

NBCOlympics.com: 2018 U.S. Olympic skeleton team

The process is annoying. It’s also effective, so Uhlaender and her teammates wonder why it’s not the global standard.

Uhlaender and other members of the U.S. skeleton team suggested Thursday that the rest of the world should follow the testing model employed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, especially with the ongoing fallout from the Russian doping scandal that saw widespread accusations of cheating and now a belief that many flat-out beat a broken system.

“I’d love if the global model adopted ours,” three-time U.S. men’s skeleton Olympian John Daly said. “We get tested pretty strictly, as does Canada. Everyone else? You talk to some of the other athletes, they don’t even know how to fill out the paperwork. The testing isn’t happening. We don’t care if our testing is strict. That’s fine with me. We just want the rest of the world to be like ours.”

It’s not the first time American athletes have offered this opinion. Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps took his pleas for change to Congress last year, saying that he does not believe “that I’ve stood up at international competitions and the rest of the field has been clean.”

Same goes these days for sliders, who saw many Russians sanctioned and banned by the International Olympic Committee — and many of those reinstated after appeals went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I’m not in other nations’ testing pools, so I can’t speak exactly for how often they get tested,” said Matt Antoine, a two-time Olympian and the bronze medalist in men’s skeleton at the Sochi Games. “But my perception, talking to them, is we get tested considerably more than they do.”

Uhlaender finished fourth at the Sochi Olympics four years ago. When Russia’s Elena Nikitina was found by the IOC to have been part of the doping program at those Olympics, Uhlaender was expected to move up to Nikitina’s bronze-medal spot. But the CAS ruling essentially restored Nikitina’s medal, Uhlaender still doesn’t have one and now Nikitina is among those in PyeongChang fighting for a chance to compete.

NBCOlympics.com: See full skeleton schedule

“Mindblowing,” Uhlaender said. “I think initially when the IOC took such a strong stance to ban Russia and suspend the federation completely and strip the medals, it gave the athletes who are holding on to the spirit of sport hope and kind of strengthened our Olympic spirit. And then when CAS took that away, it did the opposite. So I think we’re all turning to the IOC for reform and to take a strong stance to give us that spirit back.

“We’re holding onto an Olympic spirit that feels like it’s dying.”

There are still 45 Russian athletes who are trying last-minute appeals with hopes of getting into the Olympics. Some coaches and support staff who were banned also are trying to win appeals before CAS, which is planning to issue decisions Friday — just hours before the opening ceremony.

Nikitina believes she will win, and said the Russians will fight for as long as they can. If they are successful, the IOC may have no choice but to accept athletes who they say are dopers.

“For me, if that’s allowed, my faith in the system will be heartbroken,” Uhlaender said.

141 women accept ESPYs Arthur Ashe Courage Award for Larry Nassar survivors

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A total of 141 women accepted the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday night for the hundreds of Larry Nassar survivors, according to ESPN.

“1997. 1998. 1999. 2000. 2004. 2011. 2013. 2014. 2015. 2016,” Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said on stage. “These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse. All those years, we were told, you are wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor. It’s OK. Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered. Be careful. There are risks involved. The intention? To silence us. In favor of money, medals and reputation.

“But we persisted, and finally, someone listened and believed us. This past January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a profound level of understanding by giving us each the opportunity to face our abuser, to speak our truth and feel heard. Thank you, Judge Aquilina [in attendance], for honoring our voices.

“For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us rediscover the power we each possess. You may never meet the hundreds of children you saved, but know they exist. The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations.

“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Predators thrive in silence. It is all too common for people to choose to not get involved. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in, impacting others.

“All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. Too often, abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn’t matter. To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter and you are not alone.

“We all face hardships. If we choose to listen, and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other. We may suffer alone, but we survive together.”

The Ashe award, named after the Grand Slam tennis champion and human rights advocate, goes to those with “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”

Previous Olympian recipients include Muhammad AliCathy FreemanTommie Smith and John CarlosPat Summitt and Caitlyn Jenner.

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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