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Mariya Lasitskene, Russia’s top track and field athlete, slams ‘never-ending disgrace’

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only Russian track athlete currently holding a world title called on the country’s officials and coaches in the sport to be replaced because of the slow pace of anti-doping reforms.

High jumper Mariya Lasitskene’s message — in a country where top athletes rarely speak out against officials — came shortly after Russia’s ban from international athletics was prolonged on Sunday.

“I hope that the people involved in this never-ending disgrace still have the courage to leave. By themselves. And don’t think I’m only talking about the management,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram.

“It’s also about the current coaches who are still sure that you can’t win without doping. They’re long overdue for retirement. A new generation of our athletes must grow up with a different philosophy, and for any athlete, it’s the coach who provides that.”

Lasitskene’s statement echoed Russian Anti-Doping Agency CEO Yuri Ganus, who said a month ago the Russian Athletics Federation was in “a world of illusion” and needed a purge of top officials. Ganus and federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin held talks with Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov on Monday.

Lasitskene won world titles in 2015 and 2017, but was barred from the 2016 Olympics because of sanctions against the Russian team. She competes internationally under a neutral flag.

Long jumper Darya Klishina, a world silver medalist in 2017, commented on Instagram that Lasitskene’s call was “right on target.”

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said the Russian track leadership could struggle without the trust of its top athletes.

“I think that for the federation it’s a bad signal, a bad sign,” he said.

“They don’t have that direct connection with the young guys, the young athletes, and it’s unpleasant information for the federation. Of course, Dmitry Shlyakhtin should meet with them and say what kind of work is being done … and build complete support from our clean athletes, the guys representing our country.”

Sunday’s IAAF decision left Russia with little over three months to avoid competing under a neutral flag at the world championships in Qatar. After Russia was barred from international athletics in 2015 because of widespread doping, the country’s competitors participated at the 2017 worlds as neutral athletes.

The head of the IAAF’s Russia task force, Rune Andersen, said there was evidence the country was “backsliding” on anti-doping reforms. He cited evidence that banned coaches have continued to work with athletes, and an ongoing investigation into whether Russian officials provided fake medical documentation to give high jumper Danil Lysenko an alibi for failing to notify drug testers of his whereabouts.

“I have instructed the federation president (Shlyakhtin) to be completely candid and provide any information that’s required for the special IAAF investigation,” sports minister Kolobkov said.

“It’s in our own interests for this situation to be fully investigated. If there really was a forged document or note, then everyone who was involved in that should be punished.”

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MORE: Russia investigated for doping forgery claim related to silver medalist

2026 Winter Olympic host: Milan-Cortina

Milan-Cortina 2026
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Italy will host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, with Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo winning an IOC vote over a Swedish-Latvian bid centered on Stockholm.

After Winter Games in Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014), PyeongChang (2018) and Beijing (2022), they return to a traditional European site for the first time since Italy hosted in Torino in 2006.

The two bids were left after five others dropped out for various reasons, all in 2018: Calgary, Canada; Erzurum, Turkey; Sapporo, Japan; Graz, Austria and Sion, Switzerland.

With the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosts both decided two years ago (Paris for 2024, Los Angeles for 2028), next up is the 2030 Winter Games. The U.S. has already said that if it bids, it will be with Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Italy will host the Winter Games for a third time after Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and Torino in 2006.

Its bid presentation Monday included all three Italian 2018 Olympic champions — Arianna Fontana (short track), Michela Moioli (snowboard cross) and Sofia Goggia (downhill). The presentation ended with 15-year-old short track speed skater Elisa Confortola addressing more than 80 IOC members.

Italy’s initial bid declaration in March 2018 was for a joint Milan-Torino bid. Cortina was added within a week to make it a three-pronged candidate. By September, Turin dropped out after political infighting. The bid has since remained Milan-Cortina, sites separated by more than 200 miles.

Sweden has finished second or third in all seven of its Winter Olympic bid votes, including six straight from 1984 through 2002, according to the OlyMADMen. The Stockholm–Åre bid was trying to become the first Winter Games held in multiple countries, with Latvia holding bobsled, luge and skeleton.

More on the Milan-Cortina bid:

Proposed Dates: Feb. 6-22 (Olympics), March 6-15 (Paralympics)

Venues
Milan
 — Figure skating, hockey, short track
Cortina d’Ampezzo (220 miles northeast of Milan) — Alpine skiing (women), bobsled, luge, skeleton, curling, biathlon (Antholz)
Val di Fiemme (160 miles northeast of Milan) — Cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, speed skating (outdoors)
Valtellina (85 miles northeast of Milan) — Alpine skiing (men, Bormio), freestyle skiing, snowboarding

Ceremonies
Opening Ceremony — San Siro (home of AC Milan and Inter Milan)
Closing Ceremony — Verona Arena (Roman amphitheatre 90 miles east of Milan)

Slogan
“Dreaming Together”

IOC Evaluation Group Report
“Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo combine the advantages of a big European city and those of a popular mountain resort region in the Italian Alps. The candidature benefits from the region’s strong winter sports history, tradition and experience, as well as the Italians’ love and passion for sport. The project can also leverage the economic strength and prosperity of the northern Italian region. While planning is still at an early stage, the project has the potential to achieve the long-term goals of the cities and the region in line with Olympic Agenda 2020/New Norm.”

MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic master schedule

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Japan’s gymnastics worlds team: no Kohei Uchimura, Kenzo Shirai

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Not only is Kohei Uchimura going to miss the world championships, but so is 11-time world medalist Kenzo Shirai.

Japan finalized its five-man team for October’s worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, following a national-level meet this past weekend. Uchimura, arguably the greatest gymnast in history, was already out of the running, sidelined with his latest round of injuries.

Shirai, reportedly slowed by a left ankle injury this season, did compete this weekend. But he finished fifth on floor exercise and third on vault, his two best events, and did not earn one of the last two spots on the world team.

Uchimura, a two-time Olympic all-around champion with six world all-around titles, misses worlds for the first time since 2007. Shirai, a 22-year-old with four world titles between floor and vault, had competed in every worlds since debuting in 2013, just after his 17th birthday.

Without their two stars, Japan sends a relatively inexperienced team. Kazuma Kaya and Wataru Tanigawa, both 22, are the only men who have been to a worlds (and were part of the 2018 silver-medal team). The youngest member is 17-year-old Daiki Hashimoto.

Japan has earned a team medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2003, a streak bettered only by the U.S. women.

MORE: Olympic gymnastics team sizes return to five for Paris 2024

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