Biathlon report outlines corrupt conduct, favors for Russia

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SALZBURG, Austria — A report commissioned by the International Biathlon Union stated Thursday there was evidence of “systematic corrupt and unethical conduct at the very top” of the governing body, especially in protecting Russia on doping issues.

The report, published in a redacted version, accuses former IBU president Anders Besseberg of lobbying intensely for Russia’s interests while showing little appetite for pursuing doping cases which might embarrass the country.

It also said Besseberg, who ran biathlon for 25 years, was taken on hunting and fishing trips for free in Russia and had IBU employees transport his trophies home to Norway. The report cites evidence from a police investigation that Besseberg admitted he “received the service of a prostitute” while staying in Moscow, which he believed had been paid for by a third party.

The commission which wrote the report said Besseberg “appears, in the view of the Commission, to have had no regard for ethical values and no real interest in protecting the sport from cheating,” and that he did only the “absolute minimum” on anti-doping issues.

The report accuses the IBU leadership of repeated failures to even look for evidence in Russian doping cases. With regard to blood doping, the report says a cover-up was impossible because the athletes’ profiles hadn’t been checked for signs of doping.

There is testimony from Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who said he overheard a conversation between two Russian officials about a sum of $200,000 to $300,000 which was supposedly paid to Besseberg and that Russia had “leverage” over Besseberg. The commission did not have access to bank account data, but said Norwegian authorities were investigating whether Besseberg illicitly received money or other benefits.

Former IBU general secretary Nicole Resch is accused of having failed to request extra testing of Russian athlete Evgeny Ustyugov at the doping-tainted 2014 Sochi Olympics after indications of “highly abnormal values” in his blood. Ustyugov went on to win a gold medal but was stripped of the honor last year after a ban over a separate allegation of past steroid use.

The report also said Resch offered “undercover” help with doping appeals by three Russians and tried to influence the chair of an anti-doping panel considering a case the IBU brought against another Russian.

Besseberg is also accused of failing to act on allegations of bribery, both when one Russian official supposedly tried to buy votes at an IBU congress and when Resch said she was offered a jewelry box by another official in 2008 or 2009 when doping cases were being investigated. She said she did not accept the box or open it.

Both Besseberg and Resch stepped down from their posts in 2018, shortly after a raid on the IBU’s headquarters by Austrian police. Neither has been charged or convicted of a crime. The report said Besseberg declined to answer questions while a criminal investigation into his conduct remains open, and Resch said she couldn’t be interviewed for health reasons.

Besides his IBU role, Besseberg was formerly a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s foundation board representing Winter Olympic sports until he stepped down in 2018.

“The allegations featured in this report are abhorrent to all who care about sport integrity,” WADA president Witold Banka said in a statement. “However, it is to the credit of the IBU that in the wake of this scandal, it has taken significant steps to enhance the integrity of its anti-doping program.”

The report could lead to more athletes being charged over past doping offenses. Jonathan Taylor, who chaired the commission, said it unearthed a previously unnoticed tactic used by the Russian anti-doping agency from 2012-14 to conceal apparent doping.

Taylor said it involved holding on to suspicious blood data and entering it into the global anti-doping system only much later, so that “the values found of athlete biological samples were not matched to the athlete until many months or years after the fact.”

Evidence which wasn’t acted on while Besseberg and Resch ran the IBU was still available for other investigations, Taylor said, as was a syringe containing traces of blood and the banned substance EPO. The syringe was found discarded at a World Cup venue in 2015 but a DNA sample from the blood was never matched with any athlete.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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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 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 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