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Michael Phelps narrated film, ‘The Weight of Gold,’ on Olympians, mental health, sets premiere

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“The Weight of Gold,” a documentary about Olympians’ mental health challenges narrated by Michael Phelps, debuts July 29 on HBO.

Phelps believes he experienced a state of depression after each of his five Olympics. He first shared his mental-health struggles in 2015, saying he spent days curled in a fetal position, “not wanting to be alive anymore,” following his September 2014 DUI arrest, according to a Sports Illustrated cover story.

Phelps became a mental-health advocate since his 2016 retirement. He partnered with Talkspace and appeared in a film, “Angst,” to share his story of being bullied and depressed, leading to severe anxiety.

“For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person,” Phelps, an executive producer for “The Weight of Gold” alongside director Brett Rapkin, said in an HBO press release. “When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of, or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition. In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s OK to not be OK. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”

“The Weight of Gold” also features Olympic medalists bobsledder Steven Holcomb and aerials skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, who both battled depression during their careers. Holcomb died in his sleep in May 2017 at age 37. Peterson committed suicide in July 2011 at age 29.

Holcomb was the genesis for the documentary. Rapkin interviewed the bobsledder in 2017 for a film on Holcomb’s return from a degenerative eye condition and a 2007 suicide attempt to win an Olympic title in 2010. Twelve days after the interview, Holcomb was found dead.

Rapkin decided to expand his project to cover U.S. Olympians across several sports, telling stories of mental health battles. Other Olympians in the film include Shaun WhiteGracie Gold, Sasha CohenBode MillerDavid Boudia, Lolo JonesJeremy Bloom and Katie Uhlaender.

MORE: Ian Thorpe: I wish Michael Phelps was a bit older

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World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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