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Olympic gold medalist giving athletes a voice in fight against doping

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An Olympic gold medalist and a former executive at the World Anti-Doping Agency are forming an organization designed to give athletes a stronger voice in the fight against doping and the powers that police it.

The group, called Global Athlete, is being organized by British cyclist Callum Skinner. Rob Koehler, who suddenly quit his post as deputy director general at WADA last year, will be the group’s director general.

Athletes have spoken out in large numbers to protest what they perceive as lax treatment of Russia by the International Olympic Committee and WADA in the wake of the country’s doping scandal.

Koehler said the group won’t be focused only on doping issues, though clearly the Russian doping crisis has served as a wake-up call.

“The whole idea of dissenting voices being cast off and not being listened to, or being portrayed as uninformed and not seeing the big picture, doesn’t fly,” Koehler said. “The athletes we talk to get the big picture. They want to grow sport together with sporting leaders.”

While Koehler said the group will reach out to the IOC and WADA, the athletes involved in the group — more names will trickle out later this week — have to ultimately decide the best way to push for change.

The nonprofit group FairSport and individual donors will provide funding for the new group, and Koehler said sports, governments and anti-doping groups will have no say over Global Athlete’s decision-making.

WADA and the IOC did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment on the new group.

Koehler worked with the athletes committee while at WADA. He said he did not want to discuss the reason for his abrupt departure last August.

“But I can tell you, that’s a group that, in my opinion, were trailblazers in not being afraid to take stands on issues where we knew there was potential for pushback,” he said. “They pushed me. They made me reflect on what they were all about. It was that athletes, in the end, need to be listened to, engaged and brought to the table.”

Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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MORE: Olympic aerials champion retires to coach

Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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