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Archive for  July 2016

Sunday 31, Jul 2016

Russia Never Engaged In State-Backed Doping, Says New Russian Anti-Doping Chief

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Vitaly Smirnov, member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and chief of Russia’s newly-created doping watchdog, has rejected allegations of Russia having a doping program at the state level.

Smirnov also vowed to create a totally transparent anti-doping mechanism and remarked Russia is determined to achieve an absolutely transparent doping control system but expects the same from other countries as well. The chief of Russia’s newly-created doping watchdog said our task is to create an absolutely transparent system and we are ready to invite any experts but we expect the same system to be formed everywhere. Smirnov also commented that Russian anti-doping policies should be handed over to the Health Ministry and it would not ask the government for money, in order to ensure its independence. Smirnov also said we are counting on the necessary and modest subsidies from the Olympic committee.

The new Russian anti-doping commission head previously served as the minister of sport of the Russian Federation from 1981 to 1990 and was a full member of the IOC from 1971 to 2015.

Smirnov went on to remark he would meet Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren (at the Rio Games) who recently submitted report that the Russian Sports Ministry actively participated in swapping samples at its laboratories in Moscow and Sochi. In the McLaren report, it was also claimed that Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia was involved in the alleged doping and cover-up scheme.

Russian Olympic Committee President Aleksandr Zhukov announced the creation of a public anti-doping commission headed by Smirnov the day the International Olympic Committee decided to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Rio Games and left the decision to ban Russian athletes to individual federations. While creating the commission, Zhukov welcomed the IOC’s decision not to impose a blanket ban forbidding all of Russia’s athletes from competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The Russian Olympic Committee President commented the IOC decision was rather a balanced decision and said the Executive Board of International Olympic Committee decided that clean Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games but added a number of steps must be queued out and a number of requirements must be met.

Zhukov also said these are at the same time very serious requirements and conditions regarding athletes from Russia. The ROC President said athletes from other countries with a doping record have not been banned from the Olympics, while Russian athletes with previous records have been effectively banned from the Games.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said we believe that the IOC decision is a positive decision, and we regard it positively. The spokesman added we definitely welcome the ultimate solution, which allows so-called ‘clean’ athletes to take part in the Olympics after an endorsement from international federations.

Russian Vladimir Putin called for the introduction of unified international standards for doping controls. Putin added Russia must show that it is fully committed to a clean and honest fight and that it is ready for a real partnership with the sporting world in its opposition to the use of doping.

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Friday 29, Jul 2016

WADA Exceeded Power While Compiling McLaren Report, Says FINA President

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission “exceeded their power” while compiling the explosive McLaren Report into Russian doping, according to International Swimming Federation (FINA) President Julio Maglione.

Maglione, now an honorary International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, said he believes the International Olympic Committee should have itself handled the matter. The 80-year-old remarked WADA members exceeded their power and this needs to be clarified sooner or later. The FINA President also commented WADA is an organization with a function to control the doping abuse, approve the relevant rules and not to talk about the situation in a particular country and added it must be done by the head of the Olympic Games that is by the International Olympic Committee.

The recently-released McLaren Report disclosed a state-sponsored Russian doping scheme by Russia at their home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. This report also implicated a string of summer sports and events.

The report findings prompted the International Olympic Committee to review legal options to impose a complete blanket ban on Russian athletes from next month’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and follow the lead of the world governing body of athletics that has already ruled out the country’s track and field stars. The IOC ultimately decided not to follow the path of the IAAF and deferred the decision on Russian participation to the individual International Federations. The IOC and its President Thomas Bach received criticism for their decision and critics claimed the International Olympic Committee displayed a soft touch due to close relations with those in power in Russia.

In another development, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the report of the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chaired by Canadian sports law Professor Richard McLaren, would be scrutinized by the Russian Investigative Committee (IC). Mutko added our current task is to calmly work in the legal framework and also commented that McLaren’s report was sent to IC and they are scrutinizing it. The Russian Sports Minister also said the Ministry of Sports has set up a special commission that investigates circumstances mentioned in the report and he hopes experts will provide all facts to us and if they are convincing, measures will be taken by the end of November.

McLaren’s report claimed there was evidence that the sports ministry of Russia and the Center for the Training of Russian National Teams and the Federal Security Service (FSB) supported the doping program in Russian sports. The revelations of the McLaren report were built on those of an independent commission, which was led by Dick Pound and which McLaren was a part of. Canadian Beckie Scott, chair of the WADA athlete committee, remarked he thinks we felt a little bit vindicated today because we have been calling for report since last year and added we as a community were very upset to read about the unprecedented levels of doping and the subversion and undermining of Olympic values that was taking place in Russia.

The 31st Summer Olympic Games will be held in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: WADA Exceeded Power While Compiling Mclaren Report, Says FINA President

Wednesday 27, Jul 2016

Russian Pole Vaulter Hits Out At Country’s State-Sponsored Doping

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Yelena Isinbayeva, regarded by many as the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time, has slammed Russian officials for their failure to defend her in the doping ban row.

The 34-year-old was barred from the Rio Olympics despite the fact that there was never any suggestion that she was part of the Russian doping culture that has shamed the country. The two-time Olympic gold winner and three-time world champion blasted Moscow officials for failing to defend her. Yelena said the defense offered by Russian officials was very weak and she would term it ‘zero defense’. The current world record holder said she is sad and ready to burst in tears in front of this lawlessness and outrage.

It was further remarked by the Monaco-based pole-vaulter that she and her coach Evgeny Trofimov had revolutionized the sport but she was now receiving a slap in the face despite never having resorted to doping. The pole-vaulter added we were ten years ahead of our time and also commented pole jumping became sport number one in world athletics with her world records and victories. Her coach said Yelena would make an appeal in the Strasburg Human Rights Court, the European Court of Human Rights, despite the fact that even a positive verdict would come too late to compete in the Rio Olympics. Trofimov also said the decision of International Olympic Committee is lawless for her and for the team.

Yelena lamented in an emotional outburst that Rio is over and remarked there is no chance for her to stand up on the highest step at the Olympics. The Russian pole vaulter also said no Russian anthem will be played in her honor and she would not be able to cheer her fans by flying over the bar. Yelena also commented she was very upset as this is unfair.

Previously, Isinbayeva had criticized the International Association of Athletics Federations and asked for the entire organization to be disbanded. The pole vaulter remarked the fact that they threw this out shows their weakness and their helplessness and added the presumption of innocence before guilt does not exist and they cannot show who is clean in Russia and who is not and they just show their ineffectiveness. Isinbayeva remarked she would disband the whole federation and would change those running the organization yet again and also commented they are ineffective and are breaking up world athletics. The two-time Olympic gold winner said everyone understands clearly that without the Russians at the Games, only half the TV audience is going to watch the Olympics, and this is bad for the sponsors and also remarked it is also bad for the public who want to watch us compete.

Russian gold winning figure skater Evgeni Plushenko extended support for Yelena and remarked the federal leadership of Russia should back her claim to take part in the Olympics. Evgeni also commented that Yelena was a symbol of faith and overcoming yourself for many people, an idol for millions of fans around the world, because the Olympic movement is not just about competition and also said it is a mission that we are carrying throughout our whole lives.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Russian Pole Vaulter Hits Out At Country’s State-Sponsored Doping

Monday 25, Jul 2016

Russia Greets IOC Decision On Doping Allegations

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The decision of International Olympic Committee’s decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics was greeted with relief and jubilation from Russian sport administrators and athletes.

The IOC remarked the 28 federations that govern summer Olympic sports would review the records of Russian athletes and decide who can compete in Rio next month.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko remarked we are grateful to the IOC for allowing Russian athletes into the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Mutko however complained about decision of the committee to ban those Russian athletes who have tested positive for performance-enhancing substances even though we know dozens of athletes from well-known countries who will compete at Rio with just such a history. This would mean swimmer Yuliya Yefimova, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and tested positive for Meldonium this year, and the doping whistleblower, Yuliya Stepanova would now be ruled out and only the US-based long jumper Darya Klishina will likely be the only Russian track and field athlete in Rio.

Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, termed the IOC decision as a “compromise decision” made under “colossal pressure”. Zhukov added Russian athletes will now have to prove they are clean rather than enjoying the presumption of innocence.

Svetlana Khorkina, the Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast, cautioned athletes of Russia that more “traps will probably be laid” for them in Rio. Legendary Greco-Roman wrestler Alexander Karelin remarked the International Olympic Committee had made the most elegant decision amid the clamor, tendentiousness, unprecedented pressure, desire of some national Olympic committees to remove an obvious contender for Olympic medals from the race by any means.

Britain’s world and Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, joined the list of those who condemned the IOC decision. Rutherford remarked the decision was a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides and warned the International Olympic Committee had thrown away the opportunity to make a clear statement of intent against those who cheat. The Olympic long jump champion remarked we  know the pros and the cons of a blanket ban, we know the risks of ‘collective justice’, but we also know the risk of not punishing a culture of doping that comes from the very top and added he would say that the latter is a much greater threat to sport.

Rutherford said he believes the IOC has created an unseemly mess and commented we have certainly not been given a clear message of transparency and progress. Rutherford also said he would have almost been happier if the decision had been a bullish refusal to act in any way and remarked this is a spineless attempt to appear as the nice guy to both sides. The British athlete also said it is a decision without the strength of conviction to sever friendships and take action, or indeed the confidence to recommend against any ban at all.

The ruling by IOC means Russian athletes can compete in Rio Olympics if they can prove to the full satisfaction of their international federation and the IOC and Court of Arbitration for Sport, that they are demonstrably clean.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Russia Greets IOC Decision On Doping Allegations

Saturday 23, Jul 2016

Ban Of Russian Track And Field Team Upheld By CAS

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The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s highest tribunal, has rejected an appeal by Russia against a doping ban for its entire athletics team from the Rio Olympics.

In a statement, the CAS said it rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes and backed right of the world governing body of athletics (IAAF) to suspend the Russian athletics federation.

The CAS decision also increases the possibility that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now exclude Russia from all sports, not just track and field, in Rio de Janeiro. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) remarked it was satisfied the Court of Arbitration for Sport has supported its position and added that the judgment had “created a level playing field for athletes”.

The IOC is presently reviewing calls to ban all Russian competitors from the Rio Games following a second report into state-sponsored doping. The report found evidence of Russian urine samples being “manipulated” across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015. The McLaren report confirmed doping allegations and tampering with samples during the Sochi Olympics. The report also revealed a larger system of covering up positive tests of doped Russian athletes that reached the highest levels of sport.

The system, termed the Disappearing Positive Methodology, revealed in the report included the Ministry of Sport, Center of Sports Preparation of the National Teams of Russia (CSP), Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Moscow and Sochi labs working in coordination from 2011 to 2015 to cover up 643 positive tests of athletes across 29 Olympic sports. The report also disclosed the system was led by Yury Nagognykh, the deputy sports minister and a member of the Russian Olympic Committee’s executive board, and included several top Russian sports officials.

The IOC committee said it is presently reviewing legal options for a ban of Russia entirely from the upcoming Olympics but wanted to consider the decision by the CAS.

Russian High jumper Maria Kuchina — a medal hopeful for the Games — said this was supposed to be her first Games and it is a serious blow to her — both as an athlete and as a person. Two-time Olympic pole vault gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva remarked the ruling would deal a mortal blow to international athletics. The 34-year-old later wrote a post on Instagram that all Rio gold medals would be meaningless.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the CAS was absolutely violating the rights of clean athletes, creating a precedent of collective responsibility.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) honorary president Leonid Tyagachev remarked Vitaly Mutko and ROC head Alexander Zhukov are responsible for the exclusion of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics. Tyagachev said Mutko needs to have a hard think and added it is impossible to continue to develop sport in this way.

Russia was suspended by the IAAF in November last year from track and field events after the publication of an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that showed a culture of widespread, state-sponsored doping.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Ban Of Russian Track And Field Team Upheld By CAS

Thursday 21, Jul 2016

Chad Mendes Gets Two-Year Suspension

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Chad Mendes, one of the world’s best featherweight fighters, has been suspended for a period of two years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Mendes tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in an out-of-competition sample May 17, according to USADA. The banned substance GHRP-6, also known as growth-hormone releasing hexapeptide, was found in the system of Mendes. The 31-year-old would not be able to make a return to the UFC until June 10, 2018, two years from the date of the beginning of his provisional suspension.

Mendes admitted he did not do his homework and remarked this was a big mistake. The UFC featherweight title contender said he owns the mistake and will pay for it.

The Team Alpha Male product has been one of the UFC’s best 145-pound fighters for the last five years. The American mixed martial artist has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to May 17, 2016, the date of sample collection, including forfeiture of any title, ranking, purse or other compensation.

The #4 in official UFC featherweight rankings, Mendes is ranked the #5 featherweight in the world by Sherdog and #8 featherweight in the world by Fight Matrix. Chad Mendes twice earned NCAA All-American honors made his World Extreme Cagefighting debut against Erik Koch on March 6, 2010 at WEC 47 and his UFC debut was against judo black belt Michihiro Omigawa on February 5, 2011 at UFC 126.

The former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler last fought against Frankie Edgar at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in December where Mendes suffered a knockout loss.

What Is GHRP-6?

GHRP-6 (Growth Hormone Releasing Hexapeptide) is a prohibited substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances and Mimetics under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. It belongs to the class of drugs known as growth hormone releasing peptides but it is not the same as human growth hormone (hGH). GHRP-6 is designed for improving natural production of growth hormone in the body and is commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders without requiring any “cycling” or post cycle therapy.

Growth hormone is believed to be a performance enhancing substance. Its use is associated with reductions in body fat and improvements in the levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) that both increases protein availability and inhibits cell death. These properties of IGF-1 facilitate significantly more efficient muscle growth & repair and aid recovery time from exercise and injury.

GHRP-6 is known to significantly increase appetite as it acts as a mimetic of ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”). It indirectly results in increased hGH production in the pituitary, primarily through ghrelin release and the hGH travels to the liver and signals it to produce IGF-1. This means many advantages for athletes such as decreased recovery times, decreased body fat, improved muscle tissue repair, and improved body composition. Growth Hormone Releasing Hexapeptide is usually injected though it may be used in cream form. Administration of GHRP-6, IGF-1 or hGH is banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Chad Mendes Gets Two-Year Suspension

Tuesday 19, Jul 2016

Russia Operated Doping Program At Sochi Winter Olympics, Says Report

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A report issued by Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Richard McLaren has confirmed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics.

The report, which was commissioned by of the World Anti-Doping Agency and was unveiled at a Toronto news conference, disclosed that Russian athletes were protected by the Moscow laboratory during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

McLaren, who was a member of the independent commission of WADA that last year exposed widespread doping and corruption in Russian track and field, disclosed the manipulation of athletes’ analytical results and sample swapping was overseen by the Russian Ministry of Sport. The recent findings would further deepen the doping crisis surrounding Russian athletes that has already sparked a growing movement to have a blanket ban of the country from the August 5-21 Rio Olympics. The track and field team of Russia is banned from international competition, including the Olympics.

The report of McLaren addressed accusations made by former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov. The former anti-doping lab chief had remarked dozens of Russians made use of performance enhancing drugs in Sochi with approval from national sports authorities. Rodchenkov had claimed that he operated on instructions from Russia’s sports ministry. Last month, McLaren had remarked his preliminary findings supported allegations that the Russian sports ministry was involved in manipulating test results before, during and after the track and field world championships in Moscow in 2013.

McLaren said he cannot name specific athletes and did not mention specific sports but remarked that the report lists summer and winter sports that are affected. It was added by McLaren that every positive sample was sent up the chain of the command so the system in place at the Moscow lab would have affected the vast majority of sports.

The World Anti-Doping Agency can now push for further action against Russia. Former WADA president Dick Pound recently remarked the possibility of the entire Russian Olympics team being excluded from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro would be the “nuclear option”.

In another development, a leaked draft letter has disclosed the United States and Canadian Anti-Doping Agencies want a complete ban on Russia competing at the Rio Olympics. United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart in the draft letter addressed to the International Olympic Committee, which was to be sent once McLaren’s report is presented called for a ban on all Russian athletes, not just in track and field. The draft letter signed by Tygart and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports CEO Paul Melia reads we write on behalf of a community of clean athletes and anti-doping organizations with faith that the IOC can lead the way forward by upholding the principles of Olympism. The draft letter further reads that we consistent with the Principles, Charter and Code request that the IOC Executive Board take the action to suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee from participating in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The letter also reads the only appropriate, and permissible, course of action in these unprecedented circumstances is for the IOC to immediately suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees from the Olympic Movement and to declare that no athlete can represent Russia at the Rio Olympic Games.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Russia Operated Doping Program At Sochi Winter Olympics, Says Report

Sunday 17, Jul 2016

Rory McIlroy Delivers Astonishing Attack On Golf At Olympics

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Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy has launched an astonishing attack on golf at Olympics by telling the media he has not been blood tested in advance of golf’s return to the Olympics at the Rio Games in August. McIlroy also casually asserted he could take human growth hormone (HGH) “and get away with it.”

McIlroy added he thinks blood testing is something that needs to happen in golf just to make sure that it is a clean sport going forward. McIlroy also commented he thinks if golf wants to be seen as a mainstream Olympic sport then it has to get into line with the other sports that test more rigorously. The Northern Irish professional golfer who is a member of both the European and PGA Tours said he gets tested four or five times a year and even that is only a urine test, not a blood test, so it is very little compared to the rest of the Olympic sports.

The comments caught the attention of the World Anti-Doping Agency and WADA spokesperson Catherine MacLean remarked the Montreal-based organization that oversees drug testing for the Olympics will keep a watchful eye on golf. MacLean added WADA does find Rory McIlroy’s comments troubling and also said anti-doping organizations under the World Anti-Doping Code are required to implement testing programs that test the right athletes, the right way, for the right substances at the right time, and WADA will continue to monitor anti-doping programs in golf as it does with all other sports as part of its Code compliance activities.

MacLean said it is common knowledge that a number of prohibited substances and methods are only detectable through blood testing. The WADA spokesperson also commented golfers participating in the Rio Olympic Games should expect to be blood-tested by anti-doping organizations in the lead-up and during the Games.

Golfers eligible for the Olympics were due to be subjected to random blood testing administered by the International Golf Federation starting on May 6. However, McIlroy said the International Golf Federation gave him only a single urine test on the Friday of the U.S. Open at Oakmont before he announced his withdrawal from the Olympic competition on June 22.

The 27-year-old is one of 20 players to have withdrawn from next month’s Games, citing fears about the Zika virus. The Northern Irishman said he doesn’t think anyone can blame me for being too honest.

The drug-testing protocols of IGF were defended by its spokesperson. An IGF spokesperson said the Olympic eligible golfers have been blood tested “multiple times” since May 6 and also affirmed more stringent doping controls are in place. The IGF spokesperson said McIlroy was tested under the WADA accredited IGF program and would have continued to be tested had he not withdrawn and also commented the IGF and national anti-doping programs are actively conducting testing on the IGF Registered Testing Pool and those athletes will continue to be subject to such testing through the Olympics which includes blood, whereabouts and out of competition testing.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Rory McIlroy Delivers Astonishing Attack On Golf At Olympics

Friday 15, Jul 2016

Indian-Born Australian Wrestler To Miss Rio Olympics

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Indian-born Australian wrestler Vinod Kumar has been hit with a doping ban of four years and will miss next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Wrestling Australia has been asked by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to withdraw Kumar from the Olympic team after the wrestler, who competes in the Greco-Roman 66 kilograms division, tested positive for an unnamed substance at the African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Algiers in Algeria in April. It was confirmed by the AOC that both his A and B samples returned positive results after he had secured a Rio 2016 spot at the event in the Algerian capital.

Kumar protested his innocence and his coach Kostya Ermakovich remarked he will appeal against the suspension. Kumar’s coach insisted his wrestler has “done nothing wrong” and is “devastated” as Kumar now looks likely to be axed from the Australian team for Rio 2016. Ermakovich claimed the positive test could have occurred as the wrestler does not speak good English and may have misread the labels on a protein shake he was taking. The coach claimed Vinod’s English is really poor and maybe he couldn’t read the labels properly or the protein shakes didn’t have a full description of their ingredients.

In a statement, the AOC said the Australian Olympic Committee has asked Wrestling Australia to withdraw the nomination of athlete Vinod Kumar for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following an anti-doping violation. The statement further reads that the international federation, United World Wrestling (UWW), has advised they will reallocate his position in the 66kg division to the next best ranked National Olympic Committee.

The 31-year-old wrestler has 30 days to contest the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Kumar, one of two Australians to have qualified for the Greco-Roman discipline and a six-time national champion, had been training in Australia since he arrived as a student in 2010.  In 2010, Kumar immigrated to Australia and first competed for his adopted country in March. Vinod started wrestling at age of eight and hails from a small village of Khanda in Haryana, India. The wrestler participated in state and national competitions for a period of four years and also competed in the popular Indian sport of dirt wrestling. He has so far claimed six national championships and countless medals at the Australia Cup and Canberra Cup tournaments and represented the green and gold for the first time at the Oceania Championships in New Zealand in March, where he bagged the gold medal.

Kumar, who was thrown from a speeding train by the family of a rival in India before landing on his feet in Australia, competed at junior national tournaments across India from a young age. The wrestler worked as a courier and a bouncer at nightclubs to earn money and remarks he owes friends up to A$15,000 ($10,800).

The international wrestling body, United World Wrestling, has indicated the position of Kumar will not be reallocated to another Australian. The profile of Vinod Kumar has already been taken down from the Australian Olympic Team’s website.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Indian-Born Australian Wrestler To Miss Rio Olympics

Wednesday 13, Jul 2016

Sharapova’s Rio Olympics Ambitions Dashed

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Russian professional tennis player Maria Sharapova has been ruled out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after a ruling on her appeal against a two-year doping ban was postponed until September.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport remarked the International Tennis Federation and Sharapova had agreed to defer the decision that had been due to be issued by next Monday. It was also remarked by CAS that both parties asked for more time to prepare their cases and also cited “scheduling conflicts” with a verdict now expected by September 19. Both parties previously had agreed to an “expedited procedure” allowing the CAS to issue a ruling this month and decide on the ban that could have made Maria eligible for the Olympics in August.

In a statement, the CAS said the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts.  Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty, remarked the decision was by mutual agreement and will give Maria’s team additional time to prepare its case. Haggerty added CAS is the court of final appeal and this extension will be helpful and also commented that we are hopeful Maria’s suspension will be reduced, but in all cases, these additional two months will not impact our expectations of what can be achieved.

Sharapova was named as one of four Russian players to compete in the women’s singles in Rio Olympics alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Daria Kasatkina. In her absence, Sharapova’s place will now be taken by Ekaterina Makarova, the fifth-ranked Russian woman.

Last month, Sharapova filed an appeal to reduce or overturn the suspension imposed by the world governing body of lawn tennis. Sharapova failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open and admitted to using Meldonium, which is a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code since the start of this year. Maria Sharapova was suspended from playing tennis for a period of two years on June 8, 2016 by the ITF. This was despite Maria claiming that she took the drug before it was banned and for health reasons only on the recommendation of her doctor over a period of ten years.

A five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player lost all ranking points and prize money she earned in Melbourne. Maria termed the decision of the ITF to ban her for two years “an unfairly harsh” punishment. The ban on Sharapova is due to end on Jan. 25, 2018, which would keep her out of eight Grand Slam tournaments, along with the Olympics.

Maria was the 2004 Wimbledon champion at age 17 and took no. 1 in the rankings at 18; U.S. Open champion at 19 and became Australian Open champion at 20. The former No. 1-ranked player is one of 10 women in tennis history with a career Grand Slam and was named one of the “100 Greatest of All Time” by Tennis Channel in March 2012. Maria was named highest paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years by Forbes and earned US$285 million including prize money since she turned pro in 2001.

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