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Jailed former governor says he bought votes for Rio Olympics

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A jailed former governor of Rio de Janeiro state told a judge on Thursday that he paid about $2 million for the votes of International Olympic Committee members to award the Brazilian city the 2016 Summer Games.

Sergio Cabral said he paid $1.5 million in bribes through intermediaries to the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, originally in exchange for up to six votes in the meeting that awarded Rio the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The former governor added that another $500,000 was paid later to Diack’s son with the aim of securing three more votes of IOC members for Rio.

Cabral said former Brazilian Olympic Committee chairman Carlos Arthur Nuzman handled the negotiations. The former governor said the money came from a debt owed to him by businessman Arthur Soares.

“Nuzman came to me and said ’Sergio, I want to tell you that the IAAF president, Lamine Diack, is a person that is open to undue advantages. He can secure five or six votes. In exchange, he wants $1.5 million,” the former governor said about a meeting he alleges he had with Nuzman in August 2009.

The jailed politician said he used Leonardo Gryner, who would later become the Rio 2016 committee director-general of operations, to get in touch with Papa Diack, son of Lamine Diack, to make the payments.

Gryner was arrested for corruption, money laundering and criminal organization in 2017, but has since been released.

Cabral said Nuzman approached him again in mid-September 2009 to talk about more votes that could be bought, less than a month before the IOC decision.

“Nuzman told me Papa Diack said he could get more votes. He said we could reach nine votes in total, but he needed another $500,000. I told him it would be done,” Cabral said.

Rio was chosen over Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2016 Games.

Nuzman’s attorney João Francisco Neto told reporters the accusation is “a version faded to disappear” because the former governor has no evidence.

“Cabral is sentenced to 200 years in prison. He needs to say things, but he has no evidence,” Neto said. “Even if that had happened, corporate corruption is not a crime in Brazil.”

Lamine Diack, meanwhile, is facing trial in France for corruption and money laundering and has been accused of taking money to cover up positive doping tests by Russian athletes.

Cabral governed Rio state between 2003 and 2010. He was arrested in November 2016 for corruption, money laundering and many other crimes.

The former governor said he bought the votes for Rio to get to “the second stage of the vote” and that “no votes were bought after that.”

Chicago’s bid was the first to be eliminated, despite the presence of then-U.S. President Barack Obama at the IOC meeting in Copenhagen.

Tokyo was next. Rio beat Madrid in the final round, 66 votes to 32.

Cabral said he told then-Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes about the bribes.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

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