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Grigory Rodchenkov’s name comes up as police raid biathlon federation

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Biathlon’s governing body was raided by Austrian police on Wednesday in an operation that officials said was linked to a doping investigation.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said the raid of the International Biathlon Union’s headquarters in Salzburg was part of a wider investigation into the IBU by law enforcement in Austria and Norway. WADA told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement that “the issue is linked to doping.”

The IBU said the raid was focused on Anders Besseberg, who has been the governing body’s president since it was founded in 1993, and secretary general Nicole Resch, who handles much of the day-to-day running of the sport.

The IBU said Resch “has requested a leave of absence” because of the investigation, but didn’t comment on Besseberg’s future. Austria’s federal prosecutor’s office for financial crimes and corruption was responsible for the case, police said. The prosecutor did not immediately comment on the investigation.

Biathlon, which combines skiing and shooting, is one of the most popular winter sports in Europe, but it has been shaken by doping scandals involving the Russian team. Some of the sport’s key names have called for the IBU to take stronger action against Russia, while nations including the United States and Canada boycotted a World Cup round in Russia last month.

The investigation into the IBU was related to testimony given by Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, Besseberg’s wife, Wenche Besseberg, told the AP. Anders Besseberg was not immediately available for comment.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK published an interview with Rodchenkov on Wednesday in which he said the IBU had colluded with Russian anti-doping authorities to cover up suspicious blood tests by the country’s athletes in previous years.

“Dr. Rodchenkov has been cooperating with the investigation of the International Biathlon Union, and with other investigations. We are hopeful that all doping fraud and corruption in international sports is fully exposed, and we will continue to work diligently to make that a reality,” Rodchenkov’s lawyer Jim Walden said in a statement.

Several Russian athletes have been sanctioned for doping in recent years, including Olympic medalists from the 2014 Sochi Games, where Russia has been accused of operating a doping scheme and cover-up.

The IBU and Resch did not respond to questions Wednesday about Rodchenkov’s allegations.

The IBU said its executive board “is taking the matter (of the raid) extremely seriously and continues to be committed to operating under the highest standards of good governance and transparency.”

Austrian authorities have tried to tackle doping in biathlon before.

Police raided the lodgings of the Kazakhstan team ahead of last year’s world championships after a box containing medical equipment and team documents was left by the roadside. The raid didn’t result in any criminal charges and the team passed drug tests, though a team doctor was provisionally suspended by the IBU.

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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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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