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Martin Fourcade, France’s most decorated Winter Olympian, retiring from biathlon

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Martin Fourcade, France’s most decorated Winter Olympian with seven medals and five golds, announced a surprise retirement on Friday at age 31, the International Biathlon Union confirmed.

Fourcade is expected to make Saturday’s World Cup 12.5km pursuit in Finland the last race of his career. It’s also the last race of the season, which will end prematurely due to the coronavirus.

Fourcade has been a force for nearly a decade: seven straight World Cup overall titles from 2012-18, 28 world championships medals, including 13 golds, and five gold medals between the last two Olympics.

Last season, Fourcade struggled with zero world championships medals for the first time since 2010 and a 12th-place finish in the overall standings. This season, he is battling Norwegian rival Johannes Thingnes Bø for the overall title going into Saturday’s finale.

Only Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen owns more Olympic biathlon gold medals (eight), world titles (20) or World Cup victories (94) than Fourcade.

Fourcade, born in Céret, near the Spanish border in the south of France, began cross-country skiing at 6 and switched to biathlon at 13. He followed older brother Simon, who competed in three Olympics.

Fourcade developed a successful method that other biathletes copied — making shooting accuracy his top priority, followed by speed at the range and then making up lost time skiing.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: American takes surprise silver at biathlon worlds

Il y a des décisions qui changent une vie.Je me suis souvent demandé si cela avait été le cas lorsque je suis monté…

Posted by Martin Fourcade on Friday, March 13, 2020

Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

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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

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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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