Russia set to lose another Sochi Olympic gold medal, fall into tie with U.S.

AP
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SALZBURG, Austria (AP) — Russia is set to lose a biathlon gold medal from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in a new doping case.

The International Biathlon Union on Saturday announced a two-year ban for Evgeny Ustyugov, who was part of the gold medal-winning men’s relay team six years ago, citing evidence he used the banned steroid oxandrolone around the time of the Olympics.

His results from the 2013-14 season have been disqualified, including the Olympic victory.

When confirmed by the International Olympic Committee, that will knock Russia off top spot in the Sochi medal table in terms of golds. The host nation would have 10 golds, against 11 for Norway, and 28 total medals, the joint-most along with the United States.

Germany is in line to inherit the relay gold, subject to IOC confirmation.

Ustyugov, who is also facing another anti-doping charge on another matter, denies any wrongdoing and suggested the IBU was unfairly targeting him with a series of investigations.

“I’m no longer surprised. An outrage is an outrage,” he told the Russian state news agency Tass. “Time will show who is right.”

The Salzburg-based IBU also announced a similar two-year sanction for Svetlana Sleptsova, a Russian who didn’t win any medals at Sochi, over the banned substance ostarine.

The cases are based on disputed data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.

The computer files were obtained last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has since said it considers some of the data to have been tampered with to cover up doping. WADA has banned Russia’s name and flag from the 2020 Olympics as a consequence.

A WADA panel said in November that attempts were made to delete files in two biathlon cases whose details appear to match those of Ustyugov and Sleptsova, but that computer experts recovered the files.

Any appeal by Ustyugov is likely to focus on whether the data can be considered reliable evidence. Even if he wins an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, he could still face a ban in a separate doping case.

The Biathlon Integrity Unit, a new anti-doping arm of the IBU, said Thursday it charged Ustyugov with a doping violation based on unusual data in blood samples he gave between Jan. 2010 and Feb. 2014. That could potentially threaten his gold medal in mass start and relay bronze from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

The IOC and WADA didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

MORE: Russia appeals Olympic doping ban to Court of Arbitration for Sport

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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