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Stockholm 2026 Winter Olympic bid in trouble

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Stockholm’s bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics is at risk only three days after the IOC formally approved the city among three candidates.

A new coalition deal announced Friday to run Stockholm’s city government, between a center-right alliance and environmentalists, requires no taxpayer funding for a Winter Games.

“The starting point for all our parties has been to ensure that a Winter Olympics should not be on the taxpayers to pay for it,” coalition member Karin Ernlund said.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it had “not yet had any official confirmation of the decision.”

If Stockholm drops out, the IOC will be left with Calgary, Canada, and the combined Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

A vote of IOC members is scheduled in June, the Olympic body said Tuesday when formalizing the 2026 contest, though there is uncertainty for the entire field.

Calgary’s bid faces a Nov. 13 referendum, and full government support is also not guaranteed in Italy.

Amid widespread public concern at Olympic hosting costs, IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. said this week: “We have to make a huge effort in explaining ourselves better.”

Stockholm could return for a bid for 2030 or beyond, city lawmakers said.

“It is missing a clear basis for a Winter Olympics right now,” said Anna Konig Jerlmyr of Sweden’s Moderate party, “but everyone wants to have it in the future so the question is when.”

Stockholm’s bid plan has nearly half the medal events at least two hours outside of the city.

All but three medal events in Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard are in Åre (400 miles northwest of Stockholm), ski jumping and Nordic combined are in Falun (140 miles northwest) and bobsled, skeleton and luge in Latvia.

Stockholm hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and equestrian events for the 1956 Melbourne Games. Sweden owns the second-most winter medals of any nation yet to host a Winter Games, behind Finland.

Between 1984 and 2002, Swedish bids finished second or third in every Winter Olympic host vote (Gothenburg 1984, Falun 1988, Falun 1992, Ostersund 1994, Ostersund 1998 and Ostersund 2002).

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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