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U.S. speedskater suspended for tampering with Canadian's skates

Olympic short track medallist Simon Cho received a two-year suspension from the International Skating Union on Sunday after admitting he tampered with the skates of a Canadian rival.

U.S. Speedskating announced the suspension, which runs through Oct. 4, 2014. That means Cho would not be eligible to compete for the American short track team at the Sochi Olympics.

Cho confessed on Oct. 5, 2012, that he sabotaged the skates of Canada's Olivier Jean during the 2011 World Team Championship but claimed he did it at the direction of former short track national coach Jae Su Chun.

Chun has always denied that he had any role in the tampering. But the ISU suspended him for two years through Aug. 25, 2015, saying he also violated the code of ethics.

U.S. Speedskating issued a statement from Kearns, Utah saying it "respects the findings of the ISU" and will refer the matter to its disciplinary panel for a final decision. The ruling came on the same day the U.S. short track team was picked for the upcoming World Cup season, an important step for a program that has been wracked by organizational infighting and allegations that coaches were abusive.

Cho did not take part in the selection meet.

"As an organization, we are focused on supporting our athletes as they begin the season and work toward competing on the international stage the 2014 Olympic Winter Games," U.S. Speedskating said in its statement.

After the retirement of Apolo Anton Ohno, Cho appeared to be one of the rising stars in the U.S. program. He won a relay bronze medal at the Vancouver Games and an individual world championship in 2011.

Then came what he called the "biggest mistake of my life." Cho claimed the tampering occurred because Chun was angry at the Canadians and convinced they had aided another team to eliminate the Americans.

Cho said he was pressured by the coach to alter Jean's skate, using a blade bender normally used to ensure a skater's blade follows the proper radius in short track.

"I always knew it was wrong that day," Cho said last October. "I hope that I can make up for my mistake and continue to skate in the future."

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Meteor medals made with fragments from a lethal shower and awarded only on one day of the Games are just flat out weird.

It would almost like handing out fragments of the Fukushima reactor to athletes in Tokyo 2020.

Russia is so bloody tacky. That meteor injured thousands, about a hundred of so were quite seriously maimed by glass and shrapnel. I'm sure it's well worth celebrating for them.

How I wish this meteor had occurred a year later and a bit further south-- Mother Nature causing panic and mayhem at the Olympics without it actually being any protest by people. Of course, it would be a gay meteorite.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Final Coordination Commission visit begins in Sochi


The 10th and final visit of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission to the Black Sea city of Sochi got underway today. With only 136 days until the Games open and less than one week until the lighting of the Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece, the Commission will be checking to make sure that Sochi 2014 is on track to deliver the finishing touches that will be necessary to ensure that the world’s finest winter athletes are able to compete in the best conditions possible.

Led by its Chairman, Jean-Claude Killy, the Commission will be in Sochi for the next three days and will visit a number of Olympic venues, and hold a number of meetings with the Games organisers.

Venue overview
Over the three days, the Commission will have the opportunity to review the venues in both the coastal and the mountain clusters. With more than 40 test events having been held in Sochi, the Olympic venues have been tried and tested by the athletes and have received positive feedback.

But, as overlay for the Games starts to be installed, this will be the ideal opportunity for the Commission to judge the state of venue preparations for Games time. The Commission is expected to visit venues such as the Fisht Stadium, the Olympic Park, the Olympic Villages and the RusSki Gorki ski jumping centre.

Finalising the details
Over six-and-a-half years into the preparations for the Games, the Commission will also be looking at the level of detail that Sochi has managed to achieve in its planning and processes for the Games.

In areas as varied as athletes’ services, sport, National Olympic Committee services, International Federation Services, media services, spectator services, Paralympic Games preparations, engagement, and Games operations, the Commission will be looking to see if Sochi’s plans are detailed enough, and will be providing valuable advice to the organisers to ensure that they are ready for the final few months of preparations and to welcome the world next February


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Emergency declared around Olympic city Sochi because of floods

(Reuters) - Regional authorities declared a state of emergency in Sochi and evacuated a village because of flooding and mudslides less than five months before the Russian city hosts the Winter Olympics.

Knee-high puddles in the city centre caused long traffic jams after heavy rain, a Reuters photographer said, and firefighters were pumping water from the streets.

An emergency services spokeswoman said a state of emergency had been declared but that water levels were receding on Wednesday in Sochi.

"Now the situation has started to stabilize," she said.

A highway leading to some of the Alpine event venues was flooded by up to 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) of water, which emergency workers said they were trying to drain, the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Residents were evacuated from Kepsha, a village near the highway, that was threatened by mudslides, it said.

Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, told state television he had no doubt Sochi would be ready for the Games, which open on February 7 and will be a crucial part of President Vladimir Putin's legacy.

Not only would Sochi be ready to welcome world athletes and guests but Russia's hosting will be "high level," Zhukov told Rossiya-24 television in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Putin, who has staked his personal reputation and Russia's prestige on a successful Olympics, ordered officials last week to quickly overcome failures and delays in preparations, saying he expected nothing less than a "brilliant Games".

The cost of hosting the Games is expected to rise to $50 billion dollars, much more than expected initially and more than any other Olympics.

Work is still underway on venues and other infrastructure, where an International Olympic Committee delegation was making its final inspection of sites before the Games on Wednesday.

Much of the city and Olympic village resembles a muddy construction site. Poor weather has plagued preparations in the sprawling Black Sea city, which rises from the palm-lined subtropical shore to mountains of the Caucasus range.

Passengers had to wade through ankle-deep water at Sochi airport earlier this month during heavy rain, and a state of emergency was declared in March due to flooding.

The rainfall is due to continue this week, according to the emergency services, which said they were using drones to monitor the situation in the worst-affected areas.


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Russia to 'spy' on Winter Olympic Games athletes in Sochi


RUSSIA has installed a surveillance system at next year's Winter Olympic Games that will allow security to listen in on athletes and visitors.

The surveillance system, known as SORM, was first developed by the Soviet-era KGB, predecessor of the FSB special services, in the mid-1980s. It has been updated in recent years to keep tabs on the Russian opposition, among other things, said prominent security analyst Andrei Soldatov.

SORM will give Russian security services free access to all phone and internet communications at the Olympic Games in February without the providers' knowledge, according to research by Mr Soldatov and his colleague Irina Borogan.

Telecom providers are required to pay for the SORM equipment and its installation, but law enforcement agencies will be able to wiretap without having to show providers court orders allowing the eavesdropping, the analysts said.

"Operators do not know what and when the FSB is monitoring,'' Mr Soldatov, who collaborated on the project with Citizen Lab, a research centre at the University of Toronto and UK-based charity Privacy International, said.

Citing research based on documents published by the Russian government procurement agency and other state records, analysts said the authorities have been installing the surveillance devices in the Black Sea resort of Sochi over the past few years.

Russia has pulled out all the stops to get the subtropic region ready for the Games, spending more than $A53 billion in state and corporate money on infrastructure improvements.

"There is a promise that visitors will have access to the fastest WiFi networks in Olympic history, for free,'' the researchers said on their website agentura.ru.

But at the same time, analysts said, national telecom provider Rostelecom is installing DPI (deep packet inspection) systems on all its mobile networks, technology which will allow the FSB not only to monitor all traffic but also to filter it.

Overseeing security in Sochi, which is close to the volatile North Caucasus region, is deputy FSB chief Oleg Syromolotov, who has spent his entire career chasing foreign spies.

While many Olympic host countries take steps to monitor communications for security reasons, Russia has taken surveillance to a new level, said Mr Soldatov, adding the government will also deploy drones and sonars to detect submarines.

"The most unique feature of this system is its totality,'' said Mr Soldatov, adding he was astonished to learn that the defence ministry bought the sonars especially for the Olympic Games.

Elements of the system were also used during the Universiade world student games Russia hosted this summer in the Volga city of Kazan, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a former KGB agent, and during his 13-year rule security services have dramatically raised their profile in the country.

Opposition leaders have complained in recent years that their communications are monitored by security services, and transcripts of their phone calls have repeatedly appeared in the media close to the Kremlin.

"During Soviet times they listened in on phone calls - now everything has been taken to a different technology level,'' said independent security analyst Pavel Felgenhauer.

In Russia, "you should not forget that you live in a glass house''.

Last week, FSB representative Alexei Lavrishchev told reporters that unprecedented security measures in Sochi were designed to ensure the success of the games.

The Russian authorities have recently come under pressure over a controversial anti-gay law, with activists calling for a boycott of the games.

On Monday, Russia started a torch relay which will take the flame on a more than 65,000km journey across the country.


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Well, I'd sure hesitate to log onto Grindr in Sochi - actually, is Grindr available in Russia?

i'm doing some research on them for an article, and apparently it is. according to their press sheet: "Grindr is used in every country worldwide except for two small island nations: Nauru and Tuvalu. A few (of many) interesting countries with Grindr users include: Albania, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Fiji, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Moldova, Samoa, Sri Lanka, and Yemen."

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Russian Buys 6.6-lb Sochi Olympics Gold Coin for $232,000



BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - A gold coin weighing three kilograms and dedicated to the 2014 Sochi Olympics was purchased Friday by an unnamed buyer in Russia’s Far East for $232,200, according to a spokeswoman for a bank where the coin was sold.

The coin is the heaviest and most expensive in a series of collectable coins to commemorate the Olympic Games in Sochi, the spokeswoman for the Sberbank branch in the Amur Region said.

It carries a nominal value far beneath its real worth of 25,000 rubles or $785, said the spokeswoman, who did not give her name.

In 2010, Sberbank and Central Bank of Russia signed an agreement with the 2014 Sochi Olympics organizing committee to issue a special series of collectable gold and silver coins.

The agreement stipulated the issue of a total of 21 types of commemorative coins made of silver, 13 of gold and three of non-ferrous metal.

Later this month the Central Bank is expected to release a commemorative coin for the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch relay into general circulation.

The coin will be in a currently unused denomination of 25 rubles ($0.78) and enter circulation from October 30, with up to 20 million examples to be issued, the bank said.

The coins are part of a wider program of coinage to celebrate the Olympics, which run from February 7 to 23. The Central Bank plans to issue a total of 38 designs for collectors and nine for public use, amounting to 50 million coins in all.


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  • 4 weeks later...

WADA finds problems with Russian doping lab, 3 months ahead of Sochi Olympics

JOHANNESBURG The World Anti-Doping Agency is investigating problems with the drug-testing laboratory in Russia, less than three months before the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The agency has set up a disciplinary committee to look into the WADA-accredited Moscow lab, WADA President John Fahey told The Associated Press on Thursday.

There is a matter that is being looked at at the present time with respect of the Russian laboratory, said Fahey, declining to give details on the exact nature of the issues.

IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said the Olympic body expects to hear the findings of the investigation in the coming days. Ljungqvist is also a WADA vice president.

We are all aware of the problems, otherwise the disciplinary procedure would not take place. Thats it, said Ljungqvist, declining further comment.

WADA regularly checks that its accredited labs are working properly by sending them blind samples, samples meant as tests to ensure the lab is giving correct findings and not false positives or false negatives.

Labs deemed non-compliant with WADAs standards can have their accreditation revoked as has happened with the Rio de Janeiro lab that had been scheduled to test samples at next years World Cup in Brazil. FIFA will have to fly World Cup samples to the lab in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Moscow lab handled drug tests for the world track and field championships in August and is due to transfer facilities to Sochi to handle the tests for the Sochi Games, which run from Feb. 7-23. The temporary Sochi facility, known as a satellite lab, would work under Moscows accreditation.

Should the Moscow lab have its accreditation revoked for the Olympics, the facility in Sochi would likely not work. The cost of transferring samples to another lab likely would be borne by local organizers under the host city agreement.

However, Fahey moved to ease fears that the problems would erode the effectiveness of the IOCs testing program and its ability to catch cheats in Sochi.

Look, I am very confident that irrespective of what is in that report, there will be a very effective anti-doping program associated with the winter Olympics in Sochi next year, Fahey said. I have no doubt that will occur.

Sochi will be the most drug-tested games in Winter Olympics history. New IOC President Thomas Bach told the World Conference on Doping in Sport this week there would be a total of 2,453 tests before and during the games, including 1,269 pre-competition tests.

The IOC will spend $1 million on pre-competition testing for Sochi and many millions on testing throughout the event, Bach said.


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I wonder if Putin would have a hand in any kind of corruption leading up to 2014? After witnessing Canada's triumph in 2010, there would be mounting pressure for Russia to take out #1, and given that they under performed (relatively) in Vancouver, that is quite a task.. and meddling with things might be a tempting option.

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I wonder if Putin would have a hand in any kind of corruption leading up to 2014? After witnessing Canada's triumph in 2010, there would be mounting pressure for Russia to take out #1, and given that they under performed (relatively) in Vancouver, that is quite a task.. and meddling with things might be a tempting option.

Wouldn't expect anything less from that class act anyways.

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