Olympian who swapped urine is first to have 2016 gold medal stripped

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Olympic weightlifting champion Nijat Rahimov was stripped of his 2016 gold medal and banned for eight years for doping on Tuesday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said the Kazakh lifter was guilty of “four urine substitutions” and disqualified from all his results since March 2016. He was first charged in January 2021.

Rahimov is the first gold medalist from the Rio Games to be stripped. Previously, silver and bronze medals were stripped in weightlifting, canoeing and boxing, according to Olympedia.org. At least one gold medal has been stripped for doping at every Summer Olympics from 2000 through 2016.

Rahimov’s world record at the Rio Olympics was controversial even at the time. It came one year after he served a previous ban for doping while competing for Azerbaijan.

His integrity was publicly doubted by rival Mohamed Mahmoud of Egypt, who took the bronze medal in the 77kg class.

“Maybe after some doping controls, some things will change,” Mahmoud said in Rio.

Mahmoud is now in line to get the silver medal with Chinese great Lyu Xiaojun likely to be upgraded to become a three-time Olympic champion.

Lyu became the oldest men’s Olympic champion in weightlifting last year in Tokyo by winning the 81kg class at the age of 37.

Rahimov was eventually caught as part of the “Operation Arrow” investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The investigation began after German broadcaster ARD detailed widespread doping and corruption issues in the sport and the International Weightlifting Federation.

CAS said Rahimov will be banned until January 2029. He can challenge the verdict at the CAS appeal division.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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