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Gregg Popovich: It’s arrogant to blame U.S. for not winning gold

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Head coach Gregg Popovich called it arrogant and immature for people to blame the U.S. for not winning the FIBA World Cup, speaking after the Americans won their last consolation game to finish seventh overall — their worst international tournament result ever.

“Some people want to play the blame game,” Popovich said. “There’s no blame to be placed anywhere … like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature. It’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world.”

The U.S. wrapped up play by beating Poland 87-74 after losing to France in the quarterfinals and Serbia in its first consolation game. Argentina and Spain play for the championship Sunday.

“It’s not written in stone that the United States is supposed to walk to a championship,” said Popovich, whose team with no NBA superstars lost three times total in the last month, ending a 13-year win streak for U.S. rosters with NBA players. “That’s pretty old-school thinking. Even the teams that have won in the past had a lot of close calls against several teams. It’s never been a cake walk. It’s not like the Dream Team.

“I’m not sure what satisfaction there is in beating everybody by 30, as in the past, way back. I don’t see the joy or the glory or the satisfaction in any of that.”

Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs coach who succeeded Mike Krzyzewski at the helm of Team USA after five straight Olympic or world titles, said he didn’t fault any of the dozens of NBA stars who withdrew from World Cup roster consideration this spring and summer.

“Everybody’s got a life,” he said. “This group, as I said, I couldn’t have been happier with any other group.”

The group included two 2019 NBA All-Stars (Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton) and one player with Olympic experience (Harrison Barnes). It’s possible the Tokyo Olympic roster could be 12 different players.

“What does USA Basketball have to do?” Popovich said. “Keep going. We coach, and they play, and we do our best. That’s what USA Basketball does. It’s not like something has to be changed.

“Some of these guys [from other countries] have played together, running the same stuff for eight, nine, 10 years. … This [U.S.] group would just continue to improve, without a doubt. I think it’s hard to argue with having just gotten together and never having played with each other before. They came a long way.”

NBC Olympics senior researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from China.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

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Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

Lance Armstrong
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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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