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Mark Pavelich, Miracle on Ice skater, jailed on assault charges; family suspects CTE

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Mark Pavelich, a forward on the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” hockey team, is in jail on four felony charges including assault after allegedly beating a neighbor with a metal pole.

The incident took place Thursday, according to a complaint file.

A neighbor said Pavelich attacked him, with Pavelich accusing him of spiking his beer after they went fishing. The neighbor was “in and out of shock, but had observable injuries and an obvious disfigurement of his leg,” according to the complaint. He had two cracked ribs, a bruised left kidney and a fractured vertebrae.

Pavelich, 61, was reportedly ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation by a Minnesota judge on Monday.

“There is reason to doubt (Pavelich’s) competency,” wrote Judge Michael Cuzzo in a court order for the evaluation, according to the Duluth News Tribune. A Minnesota court official said that order is not public record.

Pavelich’s sister, Jean Gevik, said the family believes Pavelich has CTE from concussions and blows to head suffered in an NHL career that spanned parts of seven seasons, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

At the 1980 Olympics, Pavelich assisted on the game-tying goal against Sweden, scored and assisted on separate go-ahead goals against Czechoslovakia and assisted on a pair against the Soviet Union in the famed 4-3 upset, including Mike Eruzione’s winner.

Pavelich, known to be an avid hunter and ice fisher, lost his wife in 2012 to an accidental fall from a second-story balcony. He sold his gold medal for more than $250,000 in 2014 to provide for his daughter.

Pavelich, often labeled reclusive in stories on Miracle reunions that he was absent from, including the 2002 Olympic Opening Ceremony cauldron lighting, made a rare appearance at the team’s 35th-anniversary celebration in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I wanted to come back and see the area,” said Pavelich, who walked outside from one end of the arena complex to the other for a press conference, while the rest of his teammates packed into shuttle vans. “We didn’t have much time to explore and see everything [in 1980].”

Pavelich’s seven NHL seasons were mostly with the New York Rangers.

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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