Russia’s national ban from Olympics, world championships now two years

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Russia’s national (but not athlete) ban from the Olympics and world championships has been cut from four years to two years after a Russian appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Russian athletes can still be approved to compete as neutrals “on the condition that they are not subject to a suspension imposed by a competent authority, that the uniform worn does not contain the flag of the Russian Federation and contains the words ‘neutral athlete,’ and that the Russian national anthem is not played or sung at any official event venue,” according to CAS.

The ban, first dealt by the World Anti-Doping Agency last December, runs from today through Dec. 16, 2022.

“Russia” can still appear on Olympian uniforms as long as “neutral athlete” or an equivalent is displayed in a position and size no less prominent than “Russia,” harkening back to the 2018 “Olympic Athlete from Russia” uniforms.

The IOC said it “will now carefully evaluate the award and its consequences” for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and Beijing Winter Games in 2022.

A CAS panel wrote that the punishments imposed “are not as extensive as those sought by WADA. This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency] or the Russian authorities. In making its orders, the panel is limited by the powers granted under the applicable law. … It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”

WADA president Witold Banka said the organization was “pleased to have won this landmark case.”

“We are, however, disappointed that the CAS panel did not endorse each and every one of our recommended consequences for the four-year period we requested,” Banka said in a press release. “These are still the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for doping-related offences.”

Last December, WADA banned the Russia name and flag for four years from major sports competitions, including Olympics and world championships, pending the CAS decision on Russia’s appeal.

WADA deemed that Russian athletes could still compete without representing the country if cleared by anti-doping authorities, similar to the PyeongChang Winter Games. WADA left open the possibility of Russians to field a team at soccer’s 2022 World Cup, if the nation qualified, but without “Russia” in the team name.

On Thursday, CAS did not rule on whether teams of Russian athletes can compete in Olympic team events, such as gymnastics or ice hockey. “This point would have to be confirmed by the competent body,” a communications officer wrote. However, Russia’s ice hockey federation wrote that its men’s and women’s teams will compete at the Beijing Winter Games.

The 2019 punishment came after evidence was found that Russian authorities tampered with a Moscow laboratory database to hide hundreds of potential doping cases and falsely shift the blame onto whistleblowers, according to WADA and the IOC last year.

Russia was also barred from bidding for and hosting world championships in Olympic sports, pending the CAS decision. Russia has been scheduled to host the 2023 World Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.

On Thursday, CAS halving the ban to two years left open Russia’s ability to host those worlds in one of its top Olympic sports.

Russia avoided blanket bans for the Rio and PyeongChang Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed by media and WADA investigations after Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

For the Tokyo Olympics next summer, Russia can have no more than 10 track and field athletes, competing as neutrals, World Athletics announced in March. That was punishment in a separate case of Russia’s track and field federation’s doping rule-breaking.

Russia has been barred from track and field since 2015 for its well-publicized doping problems.

Vetted Russian track and field athletes have been allowed to compete as neutrals — not under the Russian flag — at major competitions dating to the Rio Olympics.

One Russian track and field athlete was approved to compete as a neutral in Rio — long jumper Darya Klishina, who had been based in Florida for years and met a requirement of being subject to adequate anti-doping systems outside Russia.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart called Thursday’s decision a “weak, watered-down outcome.”

“To once again escape a meaningful consequence proportional to the crimes, much less a real ban, is a catastrophic blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport, and the rule of law,” he said in a release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final