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IOC strips Olympic status from boxing body AIBA

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC stripped Olympic status from troubled boxing body AIBA on Wednesday and will now organize qualifying and final tournaments for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

AIBA had created “very serious reputational, legal and financial risks” for the IOC and its American stakeholders, Olympic inquiry panel chairman Nenad Lalovic said.

The election of AIBA president Gafur Rakhimov, who is under United States federal sanctions for suspected links to eastern European organized crime, prodded the IOC last year to investigate boxing’s governance, debts and integrity of Olympic bouts.

International Olympic Committee members voted to endorse the executive board’s recommendation last month to suspend AIBA’s Olympic status.

Lausanne-based AIBA has said it is near bankruptcy with debts of about $17 million. It is cut off from future income from Tokyo revenues, and the 2019 world championships for men and women in Russia are no longer Olympic qualifiers.

AIBA has an emergency meeting scheduled for Thursday in Geneva, which an IOC delegate is scheduled to attend.

AIBA hoped for a reprieve by Rakhimov leaving his duties to an interim replacement in March, though he could choose to return at any time this year.

“These risks don’t disappear by the mere fact of Mr. Rakhimov ‘stepping aside,’” IOC board member Lalovic said, noting the Uzbek’s “level of influence and control remains uncertain.”

In December 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department noted “Rakhimov has been described as having moved from extortion and car theft to becoming one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals and an important person involved in the heroin trade.”

The IOC had to avoid the consequences of fixed bouts or suspect results in Tokyo, said Morinari Watanabe, who leads the Olympic panel overseeing the next Olympic boxing competitions.

“It’s not just losing trust in boxing. It’s lost trust in the Olympic Games, it’s lost trust in the IOC,” said Watanabe, the Japanese president of the International Gymnastics Federation.

IOC president Thomas Bach said, “we are all concerned with the refereeing.”

Boxers’ lack of faith in AIBA at each Olympics from 2008 to 2016 were raised by Lalovic, who led a three-member inquiry team.

Those doubts persisted despite AIBA reviews after each Olympics, Lalovic noted to an audience that included former AIBA president C.K. Wu, an IOC member for 31 years.

Wu oversaw each post-Olympic integrity review. He was ousted by AIBA officials two years ago amid a deepening financial crisis and protests about his often secretive leadership style.

Qualifying tournaments for Tokyo are intended to be held in four continents from January through March, likely in London, China, Senegal and Argentina. All are recent or future hosts of Olympic boxing competitions. A final global qualifier is expected to be held in Japan.

That would give each boxer at least two chances to qualify for the eight men’s weight classes and five women’s classes, the IOC said.

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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