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What to watch in Olympic sports this week

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The 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships extend into its second week of competition in Seefeld, Austria. The U.S.’ cross-country Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins, is still in search of her first podium finish at this year’s event after picking up two medals at worlds in 2017.

Her best result at the event so far has been a fifth place finish with teammate Sadie Bjornsen in the women’s team sprint.

The men’s and women’s relays, the must-see races at worlds in cross-country, kick off with the women on Thursday, February 28. Watch live on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel at 7:00 a.m. ET. The men put their skis on the start line for the relay on Friday, March 1 at 7:15 a.m. ET, with live coverage on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold. The race will also air on TV at 7:30 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel.

Another top event this week, the 2019 Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships begin on Friday, March 1 where reigning world champion, the U.S.’ Elana Meyers Taylor, returns to the track where she has finished on the podium five times in her career, including an Olympic bronze-medal finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Last November in the Whistler chute, Meyers Taylor posted a first-place finish in her event at the North American Cup. Riding along for the majority of this season with Meyers Taylor has been rookie brakewoman Lake Kwaza, but in the final World Cup event of the season this past week, Meyers Taylor reunited with her 2018 Olympic teammate Lauren Gibbs for a second place finish in Calgary.

The women’s bobsled competition begins on Saturday, March 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Watch live on TV or streaming on Olympic Channel.

The World Cup tour for Alpine ski racing resumes this weekend with speed events for both the men and women. Both tours will compete in downhill and Super-G, but in separate locations. The men’s tour heads to Kvitfjell, Norway while the women’s tour makes camp in Sochi, Russia.

The men’s downhill opens competition on Friday, March 1 at 5:00 a.m. ET. Stream the event live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass.

World Cup gymnasts descend on Greensboro, North Carolina on Saturday, March 2 for the American Cup All-Around event. Coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. ET live on TV and streaming with Olympic Channel, and shifts to NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Check out the full schedule of Olympic sport events on TV and streaming this week on NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.   

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Kvitfjell, Norway; Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 5:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 1:00 a.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
5 a.m. Men’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN

*Same-day and next day delay

JUNIOR ALPINE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Val di Fassa, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com
Tuesday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CUP — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 12:30 a.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Whistler, British Columbia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2 OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2* Olympic Channel
Saturday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 1 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 2 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 3 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
5:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN
7:00 p.m. Team Event Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
11:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — Shimao Lotus Mountain, China; Shymbulak, Kazakhstan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 12:30 a.m. Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. Moguls* Olympic Channel
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Team Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Dual Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Dual Moguls* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

NASTIA LIUKIN CUP, AMERICAN CUP GYMNASTICS — Greensboro, North Carolina

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 7:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:30 a.m. American Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:00 p.m. American Cup Gymnastics NBC NBC
11:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics* NBCSN

*Next-day delay

LUGE WORLD CUP — Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 11:00 p.m. Men’s Singles (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS — Seefeld, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km* NBCSN
2:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final* Olympic Channel
Wednesday 8:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Thursday 1:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km* NBCSN
2:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final* NBCSN
5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Ski Jumping Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 4x5km Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
9:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: Indiv. 10km Cross-Country Ski Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 7:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay* Olympic Channel
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping* Olympic Channel
6:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km* Olympic Channel
8:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: 4x5km Cross-Country Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event* Olympic Channel
Sunday 7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 50km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day and next day delay

SNOWBOARDING WORLD CUP — Baqueira Beret, Spain

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

WORLD ALLROUND SPEED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 2:00 p.m. Day 1 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:00 p.m. Day 2 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

TOKYO MARATHON — Tokyo, Japan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:00 p.m. From Tokyo, Japan Olympic Channel Olympic Channel

TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Pruszkow, Poland

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Day 1 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Thursday 12:30 p.m. Day 2 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel
Friday 12:30 p.m. Day 3 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 p.m. Day 3* Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:00 a.m. Day 4 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Day 4* Olympic Channel
Sunday 6:00 a.m. Day 5 (Semifinals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Day 5 (Finals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. From Pruszkow, Poland* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

Grigory Rodchenkov, Russian doping whistleblower, still lives in fear

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His head covered in a black balaclava, adjusting dark goggles obscuring his eyes, Grigory Rodchenkov grows anxious if any part of his face can be seen.

Exposing Russia’s state-sponsorship doping scheme forced Rodchenkov into hiding in the United States five years ago. Revealing his current identity is still too risky for the chemist turned whistleblower, even in a video interview from an undisclosed location.

“It’s my security measures because I have physical threats to be assassinated,” Rodchenkov told The Associated Press. “And I want to live.”

Evidence from Rodchenkov that has already turned Vladimir Putin‘s Russia into international sporting outcasts continues to be used in cases against athletes along with data from his former laboratory in Moscow.

“Putin, he is quite logical. He separates opposition in two ways — enemies … betrayers,” Rodchenkov said. “I am falling in the betrayers’ category and all betrayers should be beheaded, cut, dead. So there is no doubt that he wants me to be dead.”

It has not deterred him from documenting his life story in “The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire,” revisiting how he conspired with his country to corrupt sports and then tries to show contrition by turning star witness.

Rodchenkov was the brains behind the Duchess cocktail of anabolic steroids and cover-up that turned Russia into a medal machine at the home Olympics in Sochi in 2014, topping the standings with 13 gold medals before disqualifications.

Russian spies ensured the Duchess would not be detected in doping tests as FSB agents used a hole in the wall of the Sochi laboratory to swap out the dirty samples with clean urine at night.

“For me, it was the end of doping control,” Rodchenkov said. “If we can do it, why others cannot?”

The doping cover-up extended beyond the Winter Olympics, into the Summer Games, Paralympics, world track and field championships and every major sport.

Some Russians were barred from competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as the International Olympic Committee remains opposed to blanket bans on countries.

So Russian athletes can still compete on the international stage if they can show they are clean, despite a four-year ban from major international sporting events being imposed on the nation last year for a fresh cover-up, including tampering with data gained from Rodchenkov’s former lab in Moscow.

“Sport is a part of Putin’s politics and showing to the West how good Russia is,” Rodchenkov said. “You cannot trust Russia. You cannot trust the certification authorities, and (anti-doping) laboratories cannot be allowed to be restored within the foreseeable future.”

Especially now, according to Rodchenkov, following constitutional changes allowing Putin to run for two more six-year terms, in 2024 and 2030,

“Until 2036,” Rodchenkov said, “no trust.”

But why now trust Rodchenkov as he presents a virtuous image at odds with his deep collusion with the state to cheat?

“When you are laboratory director and you have 50 employees and you are reporting to your high ups at the ministry, I could not even think about morals,” he said, dismissing concerns about any long-term damage to the health of athletes he allowed to be pumped with steroids.

“It’s extremely debatable and still ungrounded,” he said. “We see the generation who is now in the end of their lives of 70s and 80s, which are still … in a good physical condition after steroid programs.”

Go back four decades and Rodchenkov was starting out in a Soviet system learning how to manipulate doping controls.

“I had honestly, I’m sorry, but I had huge feelings of accomplishment,” he said. “Those athletes I helped to (win) were extremely talented and I could not understand, with the coach, how he or she may lose to others. The only explanation was doping. Then using some programs, we won gold medals. Honestly it was like leveling the field.

“Again, ‘morals’ is maybe vocabulary from American life but not from Soviet and Russian. In (the) Soviet (Union) it was the Soviet moral, in Russia there is no morals.”

It helps when the athletes are compliant.

“This is the huge problem of the militarization of Russia sport,” Rodchenkov said. “They follow orders, they are disciplined but they cannot tell the truth because they have given the oath to the Russian state and consider foreigners as potential enemies or even actual enemies. That’s why in Russia there are three ways – lying, cheating and denying.”

Rodchenkov has had to convince the world he has shed those ways and is coming clean. More of the cases he helped to cover-up could soon come to light after the World Anti-Doping Agency shared data – of samples tested up to 2015, and tampering that continued into 2019 – that was retrieved from the Moscow testing lab at the heart of the state-backed doping program.

“The problem is that the people from outside cannot understand what is going on inside sports,” he said. “Only whistleblowers could do that. But in corrupted countries you have to escape and we need to be preserved.”

For Rodchenkov that means living a life constantly in fear of being recognized as happened on a train in the US.

“It was a student,” he recalled. “I told him, `Forget you are meeting me, yes it’s me, don’t tell anyone.’ … I disappeared again.”

MORE: Russia track and field faces expulsion if it misses deadline

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Noah Lyles, more world champs race in Monaco; TV, live stream schedule

Noah Lyles
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Noah Lyles headlines a bevy of world champions slated for the first full-on Diamond League meet of the abbreviated track and field season, live on NBC Sports on Friday.

Monaco hosts the strongest fields of any meet since the world championships 10 months ago. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold air coverage on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

Reigning world champions include Lyles (200m), Grant Holloway (110m hurdles), Donavan Brazier (800m) and Sam Kendricks (pole vault), and those are just the Americans.

Swede Mondo Duplantis, who twice raised the pole vault world record in February, takes on Kendricks in Monaco. Distance stars Sifan Hassan, Hellen Obiri, Beatrice Chepkoech, Timothy Cheruiyot and Joshua Cheptegei dot the fields, too.

The Diamond League season was due to start in April, but the coronavirus pandemic halted large-gathering track meets until now. Repurposed versions of Diamond League meets in Oslo and Zurich were held the last two months with fewer events and athletes and some entrants racing from different countries.

After Monaco, more Diamond League meets are scheduled for Stockholm (Aug. 23), Lausanne (Sept. 2), Brussels (Sept. 4), Naples (Sept. 17), Doha (Sept. 25) and China (Oct. 17).

Here are the Monaco entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:40 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
2:03 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
2:05 — Women’s High Jump
2:12 — Men’s 800m
2:17 — Women’s Triple Jump
2:19 — Women’s 5000m
2:42 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:50 — Women’s 100m
2:57 — Men’s 1500m
3:07 — Women’s 400m
3:13 — Men’s 5000m
3:32 — Men’s 200m
3:39 — Women’s 100m
3:47 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

Here are five events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org):

Men’s Pole Vault — 1:40 p.m.
The top field event of the meet includes the reigning Olympic champion (Brazil’s Thiago Braz), reigning world champion (Kendricks) and the world-record holder (Duplantis, who must be the favorite here). Kendricks and Duplantis already went head-to-head this spring, competing virtually from respective home pole-vault setups. Kendricks took their first six head-to-heads, back when Duplantis was a teenager, but the Louisiana-born Swede won all four of their indoor duels in February. Duplantis is the clear Tokyo Olympic favorite until proven otherwise.

Men’s 800m — 2:12 p.m.
The top four from the 2019 World Championships are entered. Brazier, 23, caught fire the last year. He broke the American record to win the world title. He broke his own American indoor record in February. Then, last month, Brazier took 1.33 seconds off his 1500m personal best. Nobody in the Monaco field has beaten Brazier since the start of 2018.

Women’s 5000m — 2:19 p.m.
Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan in world champion at 1500m and 10,000m, but she’s lost four of five meetings with two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya at 5000m. Hassan appears to be gearing up to race the 5000m in Tokyo, though, saying last month her eye was on a 1500m-5000m Olympic double had the Games been held this year. The 1500m preliminary heats and the 5000m final are separated by about 12 hours at the Olympics next year. Also in this field: three-time Olympian and former American record holder Shannon Rowbury, set for her first Diamond League race in nearly three years and since the birth of daughter Sienna.

Men’s 1500m — 2:57 p.m.
Last we saw Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot in a 1500m, he led wire-to-wire en route to a 2.12-second victory in the world championships final. Only one man has beaten Cheruiyot in three years, countryman Elijah Manangoi, who is provisionally suspended due to whereabouts failures. The Monaco field does include Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen (second-fastest man of 2019), Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha (indoor mile world-record holder), Pole Marcin Lewandowski (world bronze medalist) and Craig Engels (2019 U.S. champion who was 10th at worlds).

Men’s 200m — 3:32 p.m.
Lyles and younger brother Josephus Lyles go head-to-head for the first time since January 2017. Noah has lost just one outdoor 200m since placing fourth at the 2016 Olympic Trials coming out of high school. Josephus, primarily a 400m sprinter in his developmnt, last month took a half-second off a five-year-old 200m personal best. His new best time — 20.24 seconds — would have placed third at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships behind Noah (19.78) and Christian Coleman (20.02).

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s return from destruction, death to sprinting

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