The two Russians who had their medals from the Sochi Games stripped because of doping have been barred from competing in World Cup races, at least temporarily.
It’s the latest sanction against Aleksandr Tretiakov and Elena Nikitina, who had their medals — gold for Tretiakov, bronze for Nikitina — taken away Wednesday after it was determined they were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Olympics. They have already been banned from future Olympics, and now may have no place to slide.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation handed down the suspensions Thursday, effective immediately. Tretiakov and Nikitina were both planning to compete in World Cup races at Whistler, British Columbia, this weekend.
In all, four Russians have been suspended by the IBSF. Along with Tretiakov and Nikitina, Mariia Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna — who have been racing on the lesser-tier Intercontinental Cup Circuit this season — were also banned, just as they were by the IOC. All four are expected to appeal, and the IBSF said they will be entitled to a hearing if that happens.
“Sport is all about who’s the best on that day and if anything compromises that, like the situations in Sochi, it taints everything and kind of undermines the fundamental belief in the system and the competition itself,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also is a vice president with the IBSF. “This is kind of righting the ship.”
The IBSF’s decision is a strong one and is in stark contrast to one made by the International Ski Federation, which is allowing Russian cross-country skiers who were found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics to compete in World Cup events this weekend. The FIS wants to see detailed reasons why the IOC disciplinary panel reached its decisions about the Russian athletes.
The IBSF isn’t waiting.
“I understand that it was a difference of culture and that the Russians don’t believe they did anything wrong,” U.S. women’s skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender said after the IOC decision to strip the medals and issue the Olympic bans was announced Wednesday. “But this was the only way to fix it.”
Uhlaender will be promoted to the bronze medal spot once Nikitina, as the IOC has ordered, surrenders what had been her bronze from Sochi and the IBSF updates the results. Tretiakov was the men’s gold-medalist; the revised order of finish for that event will now have Latvia’s Martins Dukurs getting gold, Matt Antoine of the U.S. bumped up to silver and Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, Martins’ brother, will become the bronze medalist.
Uhlaender, who was fourth, will soon officially be third behind gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S.
Sliders have lauded the IOC for doing the right thing, though noted that racers like Uhlaender and Tomass Dukurs — even once they have medals in hand — will never be able to replicate the moment on a podium that they should have had in Sochi.
“Having the physical medal’s cool, but most of it in my opinion is the experience of everything that happens,” Antoine said. “That’s what you cherish the most.”
Not having the top Russians on the World Cup circuit figures to have a major impact on the points standings.
Nikitina was the World Cup women’s points leader after the first two races of the season, and was coming off a victory last weekend in Park City, Utah. Tretiakov was fourth so far in the men’s standings, including a bronze at the season-opening race in Lake Placid, New York.
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FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — Jock Landale scored 26 points and No. 21 Saint Mary’s withstood getting outscored in the second half to beat Harvard 89-71 on Thursday in the opening game of the Wooden Legacy.
Emmett Naar just missed a triple double, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Gaels (5-0).
Bryce Aiken led the Crimson (2-3) with 22 points, including 20 in the second half when Harvard outscored Saint Mary’s 51-43. Chris Lewis added 18 points.
After trailing by 26 points at halftime, Harvard got within 14 points thanks to a blistering start in the second half. The Gaels answered with a 17-8 run to extend their lead to 26 points.
Aiken took over for Harvard, scoring 14 of its next 20 points to close the Crimson to 69-60.
But the Gaels’ experience prevailed as they made 10 of 10 free throws in the closing minutes.
With four of five starters back from last season’s 29-win team, Saint Mary’s is favored to win the West Coast Conference over No. 17 Gonzaga. The Gaels kept a trio of streaks intact dating to last season. They improved to 30-1 when leading at halftime; 33-0 when shooting better from 3-point range than an opponent; and 29-0 when outrebounding an opponent.
Harvard has done well in neutral-site tournaments in recent years, making the title game at the 2015 Diamond Head Classic, and winning the 2013 Great Alaska Shootout and 2011 Battle 4 Atlantis.
Saint Mary’s moves on to the championship bracket.
Harvard plays next in the consolation bracket.
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By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – A Houston-area woman has been charged with mailing booby-trapped packages designed to explode to former U.S. President Barack Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a federal office in Maryland.
Julia Poff, 46, was ordered held in jail last week ahead of trial after she was indicted on charges of mailing packages last year that were designed to kill, transporting explosives and other criminal counts, court documents showed.
“Poff presents a real safety risk to witnesses and others in the community,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy wrote in a five-page order outlining the case.
Poff, who was charged earlier this month and pleaded not guilty last week, reached out to the Houston Chronicle to defend herself, the newspaper reported on its website on Thursday.
Poff told the Chronicle that investigators had taken trash from her home. The trash was “used in some serious crimes that we did not commit and know nothing about,” she was quoted as saying.
It was not clear whom Poff was referring to as “we.”
An explosive-laden package mailed to Obama in October 2016, while he was still in office, contained hair that an FBI crime lab matched to one of Poff’s cats, the judge wrote in the detention order.
Poff is said to have expressed dislike for Obama, who is a Democrat, according to the order. Packages sent to Obama and the U.S. Social Security Administration in Maryland were both stopped in screening, according to Houston TV station KPRC.
In October 2016, Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, opened a third package that also was rigged to explode, but it failed to detonate.
The judge’s detention order said Poff was upset with Abbott because she believed that in his previous role as state attorney general, he played a part in her inability to receive support from her ex-husband.
It was unclear what type of support Poff might have sought. The state attorney general’s office has a division that handles requests for child support after a divorce or separation.
The packages sent to Obama, the Social Security Administration and Abbott contained pyrotechnic powder, and investigators found a large amount of fireworks at Poff’s home in Brookshire, west of Houston, the court order said.
Poff is represented by a public defender, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
She is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Jan. 2.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)
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