Ginny Fuchs
Getty Images

Top U.S. Olympic boxing hopeful, softball player cleared of doping violations caused by sex

Leave a comment

Ginny Fuchs, the U.S.’ top female Olympic boxing hopeful, and Bubba Nickles, already named to the U.S. Olympic softball team, were cleared of potential doping violations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which determined they were caused by substances transmitted through sex.

“When I was first notified back in March when I had these prohibited substances in me, I was at complete shock and had no idea where they had come from, knowing I had never ingested anything,” Fuchs told a FOX affiliate in her home state of Texas. “But I’m just relieved that USADA saw my case very unique and gave me a no-fault and have cleared me. … I had no idea you could get contaminated through intimate contact, and I’ve learned a lesson about this now. I want other athletes to learn from my mistake.”

Fuchs, a 2018 World bronze medalist, tested positive for two banned substances in February.

USADA investigated and determined Fuchs’ male partner was using therapeutic doses of the substances. The low amounts found in her urine sample were consistent with recent exposure through sex.

Nickles, a 2019 NCAA softball champion with UCLA, tested positive for a banned substance in March. USADA investigated and determined Nickles’ male partner was using a therapeutic dose of the substance. The low amount found in her urine sample was consistent with recent exposure through sex.

Nickles, 22, was the youngest of 15 players named to the first U.S. Olympic softball team since 2008.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Pregnant at 12, she qualifies for Olympic boxing at 26

Don Porter, key Olympic softball leader, dies at 90

Don Porter Softball
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Don Porter, the key figure to get softball into the Olympics in 1996 and back onto the Olympic program for the Tokyo Games, died Sunday at age 90.

“The main architect of the internationalization of softball,” World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari said in a press release. “Through his vision, efforts and decades of service, softball became an Olympic sport.

“He will be remembered forever as one of the most influential leaders in the history of the sport of softball, which is now played in over 130 countries around the world.”

Porter was president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) for 26 years, during which the sport was added to the Olympic program for the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Baseball and softball were cut from the Olympic program by an IOC members vote in 2005, the first sports axed from the Olympics since polo in 1936.

A total of 105 IOC members were eligible to vote “yay” or “nay” on all Olympic sports. A majority was needed to remain in the Games. Baseball went down 54-50. Softball was 52-52, a single vote from remaining at the Olympics.

Critics said softball wasn’t global enough. Not popular in Europe. That the U.S. dominated (before Japan became the first country other than the U.S. to take gold in 2008).

Porter and softball’s backers experienced further heartbreak when the IOC voted it down again in 2006, 2009 (losing to rugby and golf for the Rio Games) and 2013 (losing to wrestling, which remained on the Olympic program). Beginning in 2013, baseball and softball combined to form the WBSC, with Porter as co-president, to better their chances at Olympic inclusion.

While softball was off the Olympic program, Porter kept a box of 511 letters on his desk. They came from girls all over the world, from America to Zimbabwe, who were heartbroken.

“They touch my heart and constantly remind me of our mission and vision to give every little girl and boy in the world a chance to play our game through your Games,” Porter said in WBSC’s presentation at a 2013 IOC session. “In my judgment, you can’t leave a better personal legacy than giving young people a chance to dream of taking part in the Olympics.”

Softball and other sports received new life for the Tokyo Olympics when the IOC in December 2014 approved Agenda 2020, which included a provision that an Olympic host city could propose sports to be added for its specific edition of the Games.

Tokyo organizers submitted baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing in 2015. The IOC approved their inclusion, two days before the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.

“Softball would not be returning to next year’s Olympic Games without the life and work of Don Porter,” Fraccari said.

Before leading the ISF, Porter was executive director of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA). In 1962, he launched the first world softball championship for 1965. He began the push for softball’s Olympic inclusion in 1968, ultimately succeeding in a 1991 IOC decision.

Porter served in the Army during the Korean War and was awarded the Korean War Medal in 2001 by the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Korea, according to the Oklahoman.

Softball was originally scheduled as the first sport to be contested at the Tokyo Olympics, its first games two days before the Opening Ceremony and in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. It’s expected to remain as scheduled in July 2021.

“Modern softball history is directly linked with the name of Don Porter, the most important softball leader ever, alongside the inventor and early developer of the game, George Hancock,” WBSC Softball Chairman Tommy Velazquez said.

What Olympic baseball, softball will look like for the first time since 2008, and perhaps the last time

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021, OlympicTalk is taking a sport-by-sport look at where things stood before sports were halted and how global circumstances could alter the Olympic picture …

Baseball and softball are in the Olympics for the first time since 2008, but won’t stay there.
This is, for now, a one-time-only return to the Olympic program. Baseball and softball were among a handful of sports added for the Tokyo Games only, proposed by organizers given the popularity within the host country.

Paris 2024 chose not to propose baseball and softball. The IOC could re-add baseball and softball to the regular Olympic program before the 2028 Los Angeles Games, perhaps if 2021 goes well. Or, LA organizers could copy Tokyo and propose the sports be added for their Games only.

The U.S. qualified for Tokyo as a favorite in softball. Baseball is a different story.
The Tokyo field will be six teams in each sport, down from eight at the 2008 Beijing Games. The softball field is already set. Japan, which won the 2008 Olympic title, got in as host. The U.S. took the next spot by winning the most recent world title in 2018 (over Japan in an extra-inning final). Italy, Mexico, Canada and Australia round it out.

In baseball, the U.S. gets up to three chances to qualify. It missed on the first try, the Premier12 event in Tokyo in November. The U.S. was stunned by Mexico with an Olympic spot at stake. The next qualifier was to be a North and South American event in Arizona in March, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Top competition there was to come from Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. If the U.S doesn’t get the lone spot available at the rescheduled tournament, it could try at the last-chance, global qualifying tournament.

2021 Olympic Capsules: Track and Field | Swimming | Gymnastics
Beach Volleyball | Diving | Basketball | Golf | Tennis

Softball’s biggest names will be in Tokyo. Baseball’s likely will not.
The already named U.S. Olympic softball roster includes two well known pitchers from the previous Olympic generation — Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman, who combined to throw every U.S. pitch in the 2008 Olympic final. And Rachel Garcia, the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Player of the Year from UCLA.

Despite Bryce Harper‘s adamant wishes, active MLB players are not expected to be made available for the Olympics. MLBers were never part of the Olympics in the previous medal generation from 1992 through 2008. It was always minor leaguers or college players, though some went on to All-Star careers (Jason GiambiNomar GarciaparraRoy Oswalt, Stephen Strasburg among them). In the first round of qualifying, the U.S. team was made up of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players. For the second round (before it was postponed due to the coronavirus), MLB reduced restrictions, allowing players on 40-man rosters, but likely not active 26-man roster players.

This could benefit Japan, whose domestic league is expected to take an Olympic break in 2021, granted some Japanese superstars are in MLB (Shohei OhtaniMasahiro Tanaka). By the way, Ichiro, before he retired from MLB, ruled out bidding for an honorary spot on the Olympic team.

Familiar names are still lining up for Olympic baseball, though.
If the U.S. does qualify, it could have five-time MLB All-Star outfielder Adam Jones as an option. Jones, one of five Americans to play at each of the last two World Baseball Classics, signed in December to play in Japan’s domestic league with an eye on attaining Olympic eligibility.

Another MLB All-Star, retired second baseman Ian Kinsler, made aliyah over the winter to fulfill Israeli citizenship requirements. Israel had a magical run to qualify for the Olympics for the first time last September. Yet another, retired first baseman Justin Morneau, was originally named to Canada’s team for Premier12 before withdrawing due to an unspecified setback. Six-time All-Star slugger Jose Bautista showed reported interest in playing for the Dominican Republic in Olympic qualifying, perhaps also as a two-way player.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: David Beckham’s Olympic omission, explained