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IOC disqualifies 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for doping

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LASUANNE, Switzerland — The IOC disqualified three athletes, including a bronze medalist weightlifter from Azerbaijan, on Friday for doping at the 2012 London Olympics.

Valentin Hristov was stripped of his third-place finish in the 56-kilogram class. His positive test for oral turinabol, the anabolic steroid linked to East Germany’s doping program in the 1970s and ’80s, had been announced in December.

Hristov faces a life ban from the International Weightlifting Federation for his third doping offense.

The Bulgaria-born lifter, who turns 35 on Saturday, is already serving an eight-year ban until December 2023 for a positive test for nandrolone at the 2015 world championships in Houston. Hristov was also caught doping at the 2013 European Championships.

The bronze medal could now be allocated by the International Olympic Committee to fourth-place finisher Tran Le Quoc Toan of Vietnam.

Two athletes from Belarus also tested positive for anabolic steroids in reanalysis of their London samples, the IOC said. Men’s 800-meter runner Anis Ananenka and women’s hammer thrower Alena Matoshka both failed to reach the final of their events.

More than 100 athletes, including dozens of medalists, have been caught in reanalysis of samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics using a more sensitive test for steroids.

Most cases involved athletes from former Soviet republics, and at least six were from Azerbaijan’s weightlifting team.

The IOC said retests will continue until the statute of limitations applied to the 2012 Olympics is reached next year.

Weightlifting was put under review by the IOC in 2017 after having at least 50 positive tests combined from the Beijing and London reanalysis.

This week, the Olympic body’s executive board lifted a threat to remove weightlifting from the 2024 Paris Games after accepting reforms in the sport.

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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