IOC pledges $10 million to help World Anti-Doping Agency

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KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — The incoming leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency asked for more money. The International Olympic Committee said “Yes.”

IOC president Thomas Bach pledged $10 million to fight doping in sports, half of which would go toward storing samples from pre-Olympics testing for 10 years and the other half toward investigations and research.

It was a fitting entrée for Witold Banka, the incoming president of WADA who, after taking the stage following Bach’s presentation at a world anti-doping conference Tuesday, promised he would not tolerate cheating or manipulations.

“The new future of anti-doping starts today,” Banka said.

Then, he called upon sports leaders, governments and private companies to contribute to a cause he portrayed as massively underfunded.

“It is ridiculous that an organization with the status of a global regulator has a budget of less than $40 million,” Banka said. “An average football club has a bigger budget.”

“We need to convince our biggest partners that if you’re a sponsor of sport, you should be a sponsor of clean sport.”

Half of WADA’s budget of about $40 million a year comes from the Olympic movement, and the IOC’s injection of another $10 million contribution is significant.

It has already reanalyzed hundreds of samples from the Beijing and London Olympics that have resulted in at least 123 positive tests. Bach said it will cost about $5 million to build similar storage for pre-test samples.

“This would greatly add to the deterrence factor, in particular combined with” new testing methods that have been developed over the past few years, Bach said.

Banka will formally be elected to replace Craig Reedie later this week at WADA’s board meeting.

He’ll be under the microscope, as WADA deals with a continuing case involving Russian cheating.

Russia is currently answering questions about manipulation of the data from its Moscow laboratory that is being used to prosecute dozens of doping cases. A decision on the fate of the country’s anti-doping agency is expected next month.

“We can’t keep our athletes in this situation for such a long period of time,” said Yuri Ganus, the head of Russia’s anti-doping agency. “We’ve been in this crisis for five years now, and that crisis is unfortunately becoming even worse and deeper now.”

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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