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TSX REPORT: Flavor Flav to sponsor U.S. water polo women; FIFA report likes Brazil for Women’s World Cup ‘27; LA84 success turned on 8 May
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TSX REPORT: Flavor Flav to sponsor U.S. water polo women; FIFA report likes Brazil for Women’s World Cup ‘27; LA84 success turned on 8 May

The Sports Examiner: Chronicling the key competitive, economic and political forces shaping elite sport and the Olympic Movement.★

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Updated! Get our 547-event International Sports Calendar for the rest of 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport: click here!

≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡

1. Flavor Flav to Steffens: “imma sponsor the whole team”
2. IOC launching AI-driven social media protection service
3. FIFA rates Brazil best of bids for 2027 Women’s World Cup
4. Olympic flame arrives in France, Manaudou starts relay
5. Forty years since the turning point for the 1984 Games

● U.S. women’s water polo captain Maggie Steffens – a three-time Olympic gold medalist – urged her Instagram readers to support the team for Paris, recognizing that some team members also hold down multiple jobs while trying to play. She got a quick reply from Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav, who wrote back, “imma sponsor the whole team.”

● The International Olympic Committee announced an artificial-intelligence-powered program to provide social-media “protection” for the Paris 2024 Games, both shielding athletes from abuse and reporting abusive posts to the relevant platforms. The concept has been tested and follows successful efforts in this area from FIFA and World Athletics.

● FIFA’s evaluation report rated Brazil’s bid for the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup as slightly better than the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany bid, mostly due to concerns over contract matters which do not meet FIFA’s preferences. A closer look at the text reveals concerns for reservations from both bidders.

● The Olympic Torch Relay for the Paris 2024 Games is now in France, with the flame delivered to a big crowd in the harbor of Marseille, and French swimming gold medalist Florent Manaudou taking the first leg. The relay will continue right up to the opening on 26 July.

● Wednesday marked the 40-year anniversary of the start of the 1984 Olympic Torch Relay, the longest in history at the time, and the announcement by the USSR that it would not attend the Los Angeles Games. Both the relay and the Games were huge successes, and the Soviet boycott effort was a failure, as a then-record 140 countries came to the transformative 1984 Games.

Panorama: Paris 2024 (official music and composer introduced) = On Screen (tiny audience for World Athletics Relays) = Russia (5: Politician says Russia may not be at LA28 either; re-allocated Rio medalist won’t get any medals from the IOC until Russia turns over 15 medals it owes; canoer Pavlov disqualified for “liking” Putin inauguration; 60+ countries expected for BRICS Games; RUSADA having trouble setting up a new lab) = Ukraine (weightlifting champ Pielieshenko first Olympian to die fighting Russia) = Athletics (2: Lewis says “ not in the culture to work that hard” in track or anything else; another Kenyan doping positive) = Badminton (SafeSport confirms arbitration upholds sanction for ex-USAB chief executive) = Boxing (World Boxing meets with IOC for first time) = Cycling (Pogacar still on top of Giro d’Italia as Milan, Thomas win sprint stages) = Flag Football (USOPC advertising for an NGB) = Shooting (Korea’s Yang equal own world record in 25 m Pistol at ISSF World Cup) = Swimming (Tokyo 400 Free champ Hafnaoui opts out for Paris) = Wrestling (Taylor named to replace Smith at Oklahoma State) ●

Errata: Tuesday’s post mentioned 1996 Olympic icon Michael Johnson as a triple gold medalist; he won two (now corrected, thanks to reader David Greifinger). Also, John Smith was identified on Monday as the coach of 400 m star Michael Norman; in fact, he is back with USC head coach Quincy Watts. ●

1.
Flavor Flav to Steffens: “imma sponsor the whole team”

Three-time Olympic gold medal winner Maggie Steffens, one of the greatest water polo players in history and the U.S. captain, asked for support in an enthusiastic Instagram post on Saturday (4th); in part:

“There is no greater honor then representing Team USA on the Olympic stage side by side with strong, talented, & driven women who empower you every day. Who dedicate their whole lives to a common goal that forces you to face uncertainty and adversity when you least expect it. And who are willing to commit their entire selves to the process for true love of the sport, teamwork, and the Olympic dream. These selfless women are my WHY. My motivation to keep going no matter what & to never stop, for them.

“Water polo, women’s water polo specifically, may not be the most popular sport or on everyone’s radar, but with women’s sports even more on the rise – I encourage everyone to give these women a try! To join our family & friends and watch them strive to defy odds & chase history. To see what committed training day in and day out for over a year can create! To see what women can do in the water And if it’s not water polo, learn a new sport and watch it! Support it! Join the team behind the team.

“This support means everything to us & impacts our sport more than most. You all are truly the team behind the team and we feel it and we need it! Many of my teammates aren’t just badass champions, but also teachers, business owners, coaches, physicians assistants, and more. Some may not know this, but most Olympians need a 2nd (or 3rd) job to support chasing the dream (myself included!) and most teams rely on sponsors for travel, accommodations, nutritional support, rent/lodging, and simply affording to live in this day and age. Especially female sports and female athletes. We’ve had companies & amazing individuals support our sport alongside donors, USAWP & USOPC, but we always need more help … So leading into this Olympics, let’s continue to increase exposure of female teams & female athletes so they can continue to pursue their dreams & show the world what they do best. We are ONE TEAM!”

Steffens, 30, got a quick reply from Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav (born William Jonathan Drayton Jr., 65):

“AYYY YOOO,,, as a girl dad and supporter of all women’s sports – imma personally sponsor you my girl, whatever you need. And imma sponsor the whole team. …

“That’s a FLAVOR FLAV promise.”

And he added on X (ex-Twitter):

“The US Women’s Waterpolo team has won the GOLD MEDAL THREE OLYMPICS IN A ROW,,, these women should not have to be working 2-3 side jobs to be able to compete.

“FLAVOR FLAV promises to sponsor/support captain Maggie Steffens the US Women’s Waterpolo team”

Exactly what that support is going to look like is not yet clear, but it’s a great sign for the women’s team, trying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold in Paris. On Monday, the women played a friendly match in the Olympic venue in Paris, stomping France, 12-6, with Jenna Flynn scoring four times and Steffens among four other U.S. stars who scored twice.

2.
IOC launching AI-driven social media protection service

Following its announced push into using artificial intelligence and building on efforts by several International Federations, the International Olympic Committee outlined an AI-powered monitoring service to help protect athletes from online abuse at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games:

“The AI-powered system will monitor thousands of accounts on all major social media platforms and in 35+ languages in real time. Any identified threats will be flagged, so that abusive messages can be dealt with effectively by the relevant social media platforms – in many cases before the athlete has even had the chance to see the abuse.”

This is a joint project of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission and the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission, and the system is being prepared to handle about 15,000 athletes and 2,000 officials at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Importantly, the concept has already been trialed, with good results:

“The AI-powered tool was successfully piloted during Olympic Esports Week, where it monitored targeted, abusive content posted on the social media accounts of players participating in the event. This included identifying slurs, offensive images and emojis or other phrases that could indicate abuse.

“It subsequently analysed more than 17,000 public posts, flagging 199 potentially abusive messages from 48 authors targeting accounts from a study set of 122 players and two official IOC accounts. A total of 49 posts were then verified as abusive by a team of experts against an agreed definition of discriminatory abuse and flagged for action via the relevant social media platforms.”

This new program will be complemented by IOC Safeguarding Officers in the Olympic Village, as well as a dedicated mental-health helpline and other services.

The social-media-monitoring concept has been implemented by federations such as FIFA and World Athletics:

● At the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand:

“5.1 million posts and comments were analysed for abusive content, in 35 different languages, protecting 697 players and coaches actively using 2,111 accounts across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X and YouTube. 239 active accounts held by 29 match officials and the 32 participating teams were also covered by this service.”

● For the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the project – also using AI – analyzed more than 20 million online comments concerning a total of 1,070 players and officials, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.

Out of this total, some 433,696 posts were identified for review and 19,636 flagged as abusive and reported to the platforms. There were 286,895 comments which were hidden and not shown at all.

The threat to athletes is significant. Kenyan marathon star and two-time Olympic champ Eliud Kipchoge told the BBC that he received significant abuse following the death of fellow Kenyan star Kelvin Kiptum on 11 February in an auto accident:

“I was shocked that people (on) social media platforms are saying ‘Eliud is involved in the death of this boy.’ That was my worst news ever in my life.

“I received a lot of bad things; that they will burn the (training) camp, they will burn my investments in town, they will burn my house, they will burn my family. It did not happen but that is how the world is.”

3.
FIFA rates Brazil best of bids for 2027 Women’s World Cup

The 182-page evaluation report for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027 released Wednesday stated that both the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany and the Brazilian bids were strong, but:

“Based on the results of the technical evaluation, the Brazil bid received the highest overall average score of 4.0 out of 5, followed by the BNG bid with 3.7.”

The overview of both bids was summarized thus:

Belgium-Netherlands-Germany:

“The BNG 2027 bid proposes a compact tournament footprint with very good general infrastructure, including excellent connectivity and short distances between the proposed venues – all of which would be viewed in a positive light by the tournament stakeholders.

“Together with a solid commercial position and suitable football-specific sporting infrastructure, the bid presents a sound all-round bid. The stadiums proposed have relatively smaller capacities, which would mean that they would need to be at high occupancy if they were to eclipse the attendance records set for the 2023 edition of the tournament, though the bid is confident in achieving this with the ambitious plan it has put in place.

“It is important to highlight that while the bidder, their respective governments and other stakeholders have all shown clear and demonstrable support for the bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a number of material changes were made to the hosting documentation, which would result in a more complex legal framework as the point of departure for planning the tournament if the bid were successful.”

Brazil:

“The Brazil 2027 bid offers good stadiums that are purpose-built and generally configured for the largest international football tournaments, having hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“It also presents a strong commercial position, with a combination of competitive revenue potential and clear cost efficiencies. The Brazilian Football Association and the Brazilian government have shown support for the bid and a commitment to hosting the event, which is particularly important given that certain investments in infrastructure and services would be required to ensure the success of the tournament.

“Lastly, with respect to hosting opportunities, it is worth noting that, if the bid were successful, South America would be hosting the competition for the first time, which could have a tremendous impact on women’s football in the region.”

Both bids projected the tournament to be held in June and July, with the BNG program encompassing 13 stadia across the three countries and 10 in Brazil (all from the 2014 FIFA World Cup). The stoplight-style grading system highlighted that both bids were generally sound, but gave a red-light rating to the BNG “Legal contractual framework.”

And as to scoring, the two key elements both favored Brazil:

35%: Infrastructure: Brazil 3.7 vs. BNG 3.3
30%: Commercial: Brazil 4.5 vs. BNG 4.0

The costs to FIFA of running the tournament – it no longer uses local organizing committees – were considered higher in Europe than for Brazil, but the commercial opportunities are better than for Brazil given the economic strength of the host countries.

However, FIFA’s issues with enforcement it wants for its own needs are significant with the BNG bid. Highlighted were issues with “taxes, immigration procedures, labour law, and safety and security” in Belgium, “taxes, immigration, safety and security, and commercial rights” in the Netherlands and “taxes, as well as visas and work permit procedures” in Germany.

Moreover, the report criticized – the comments regarding Germany are used as illustration – “amendments made to the stadium and host city agreements will likely result in increased cost obligations, a significant dilution of rights (including a limit on the stadium authorities’ liability) and a loss of operational control under these agreements (including in relation to FIFA’s right to determine the tournament’s hosting requirements and tournament budget).”

FIFA’s costs in Brazil are considered to be low and the weather – in the Brazilian winter – is expected to be generally good. The report described the legal situation in much the same way it did for the BNG bid, but had a different outlook:

“The content of the submitted government support documents generally complies with the FIFA templates, although FIFA has identified some material deviations, including in relation to taxes and the general enforceability of the guarantees provided. In addition, the government legal statement flagged possible challenges regarding the potential implementation of tax exemptions.”

But the evaluation team was satisfied with the “clarification process” with the Brazilian federation.

In terms of tickets and money, the report noted 1.7 million spectators and $63 million from a BNG hosting, and 2.1 million spectators, but $59 million from Brazil.

The U.S. and Mexico pulled out of a joint bid for 2027, now aiming at 2031, allowing for evaluation of the 2026 FIFA World Cup (in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.). The selection of the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup host will be made at the FIFA Congress on 17 May.

4.
Olympic flame arrives in France, Manaudou starts relay

The Olympic Torch Relay has begun in France, with the arrival of the French tri-masted ship Belem at 11 a.m. in the Marseille harbor and London 2012 Olympic 50 m Freestyle gold medalist Florent Manaudou taking the first turn with the torch on French soil.

The Belem was accompanied by 1,024 local vessels and a flyover by the Patrouille de France. Manaudou, as the first of 10,000 torchbearers, handed the flame to French Para sprinter Nantenin Keïta, then local rapper Jul took it, before lighting the Olympic Torch Relay cauldron.

The Associated Press reported that security was tight, with about 8,000 police on station for the ceremony and “Thousands of firefighters and bomb disposal squads have been positioned around the city along with maritime police and anti-drone teams patrolling the city’s waters and its airspace.”

The Torch Relay program will formally begin on Thursday, to start a 69-day relay which will visit more than 450 locations – including overseas extensions in French Guiana, Reunion Island and French Polynesia (Tahiti) among others – before concluding at the Olympic opening on the Seine on 26 July.

A security team will accompany the relay throughout its journey. A spokeswoman for the French Interior Ministry told the AP, “We’re employing various measures, notably the elite National Gendarmerie Intervention Group unit, which will be present in the torch relay from beginning to end.”

5.
Forty years since the turning point for the 1984 Games

For those who worked on the development and staging of the revolutionary Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad in Los Angeles in 1984, Tuesday, 8 May is a day that will never be forgotten.

It was initially marked as the start of the longest Olympic Torch Relay in history: 15,000 km (9,320 miles) on a zig-zag course across the United States, finishing in Los Angeles 82 days later for the opening of the Games on 28 July. A total of 3,636 runners carried the torch.

The relay was created as a way to raise money for charity, with the Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, Special Olympics and eventually others as recipients of $3,000 “Youth Legacy Kilometers” that collected $10.95 million in donations ($32.92 million today). The cost of the relay itself was paid by sponsor AT&T and by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee.

The start of the relay was at United Nations Plaza in New York, with LAOOC President Peter Ueberroth present on a cold, rainy morning. A short program was led by LAOOC Board member and 1960 Olympic decathlon champ Rafer Johnson and the first kilometer was run by Gina Hemphill, the granddaughter of 1936 Olympic legend Jesse Owens, and Bill Thorpe, Jr., grandson of 1912 Stockholm immortal Jim Thorpe.

The second kilometer was run by 91-year-old Abel Kiviat, a gold (3,000 m Team) and silver medalist (1,500 m) at Stockholm and Thorpe’s roommate at the 1912 Games.

About two hours after the relay started came the dreaded announcement that the Soviets declined the invitation to participate in the 1984 Games, claiming insufficient security for its delegation and supposed violations of the Olympic Charter and stating “in these conditions, the National Olympic Committee of the USSR is compelled to declare that participation of Soviet sportsmen in the Games is impossible.”

The boycott announcement was later reported to be a decision of the Soviet Politburo as revenge for the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.

But the outcomes were quite different.

The Moscow Games included 80 countries, but there were 66 that did not attend, with at least 63 boycotting the Games, including the U.S. The Soviets expected their refusal to attend to create a counter-boycott to cripple the Los Angeles Games. But the opposite happened.

At the LAOOC, an afternoon all-staff meeting at the vast Culver City headquarters – a former Hughes helicopter design facility – was led by Executive Vice President and General Manager Harry Usher. The messages were simple: (1) this changes nothing, the Games will happen and (2) let’s get busy with changing the narrative.

One notable advantage was the presence within the LAOOC of dozens of foreign nationals and naturalized U.S. citizens from other countries. Many had ties with national sports federations or National Olympic Committees in those countries and all were enlisted to “call home now” and not just ask the NOCs to come to the 1984 Games, but to declare their acceptance of the invitations ASAP in order to counteract the impact of the Soviet boycott.

Delegations were sent to Warsaw Pact countries to extend personal invitations to come, some turning away the LAOOC in tears because they had been looking forward to the Games. Ueberroth made a high-profile trip to Havana to ask Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to come, especially since baseball – the national sport – was going to be played as a demonstration and the Cubans were likely winners.

That failed, but it made an impression. The deadline for acceptance of the LAOOC invitation to the Games was 2 June, but on 12 May, China accepted the invitation to send athletes, despite being a Communist country. The U.S. State Department was also working feverishly to encourage acceptances.

The International Olympic Committee, then headed by Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch – a former ambassador to the USSR, with supreme diplomatic and sports contacts – was also all-out to get formal acceptances to the invitation to the Games and coordinated strategy with the LAOOC.

The hard push yielded results, and on 24 May – 16 days later – the LAOOC announced the receipt of 123 acceptances for the 1984 Games, eclipsing the prior record of 122 for the 1972 Games in Munich. That did not include Romania, which had signaled that it would come despite its Warsaw Pact membership, but had not sent in its formal agreement.

Said Ueberroth, “Two weeks ago the world’s most powerful propaganda machine waged a campaign of lies against the Olympics. We asked the nations of the world for their help … and did they help!”

By the deadline of 2 June, there were 141 acceptances, a new record and Angola came in two days later, citing communications issues. Eventually, Angola did not send a team (it never said why) and Libya withdrew on the eve of the Games, leaving the final total at 140.

On the Soviet side, 14 countries boycotted and five others (including Angola and Libya) did not send teams.

At the opening of the 1984 Games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on 28 July, Hemphill ran the torch into the stadium and handed it to Johnson, who memorably lit a set of Olympic rings that set the cauldron at the top of the peristyle end alight.

That was 82 days after a memorable 8 May, the day which started the final march to success for one of the most pivotal Olympic Games in history.

≡ PANORAMA ≡

● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● The “Official Musical Theme” of the Paris 2024 Games, written by French composer Victor le Masne, debuted in Marseille during ceremonies welcoming the Olympic Torch to France. Per Paris 2024:

“The Official Musical Theme of the Paris 2024 Games, entitled ‘Parade,’ will be performed on 8 May at 7.30pm, when the Olympic Flame arrives in Marseille. It will be played live, exceptionally, by the Marseille orchestra from the Palais du Pharo, marking the start of the Games celebrations in France. This musical theme, which will be played throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games, was recorded with the Orchestre National de France and the Chœur et Maitrise de Radio France.”

Le Masne has also been appointed as the Musical Director for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He has worked previously with Ceremonies Director Thomas Jolly (FRA). 

● On Screen ● The U.S. had a fantastic World Athletics Relays, winning four of the five events, but little interest from television viewers on CNBC.

The final-day session from Nassau (BAH) at 7 p.m. on Sunday drew a paltry 107,000 viewers per the Nielsen report, with just 10,000 viewers on average in the age 18-34 demographic.

That’s way below the usual 700-900,000 or more for track broadcasts on NBC; the meet was shown on both Saturday and Sunday on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

Earlier that day on NBC, the Laureus Awards program on delay at 3 p.m. Eastern drew an average of 324,000 viewers (28,000 in 18-34 demo).

Sunday’s NCAA Beach Volleyball final between USC and UCLA at 11 a.m. on ESPN had 306,000 viewers (37,000 in 18-34).

● Russia ● Doubts are now being raised about Russian entries for Los Angeles in 2028. Evgeniy Revenko, the deputy head of the dominant United Russia party, which holds 325 of the 450 seats in the State Duma, said at a Wednesday committee hearing:

“We are faced with an important strategic task, the prospects for participation in the Olympics are now at zero, 2028 is in question. Next year is 2032. The next Olympics, when we can expect to take full part, is in eight years. Now we are faced with the task of full, very serious and very deep preparation for these Games.”

A disqualification for doping in the Rio 2016 Olympic men’s canoeing final in the C-1 1,000 m event gave the bronze medal to Russian Ilia Shtokalov, with the IOC confirming the re-allocation in 2018.

But Shtokalov has not received his medal. An inquiry by the Russian news agency TASS received a reply from the IOC:

“Medal reallocations must be and have always been handled by the respective National Olympic Committee of the athlete concerned. When the Russian Olympic Committee was not suspended, it had failed to return the medals to the IOC after 15 Russian athletes or teams were disqualified from the Games as per usual procedures. This means that the IOC, regardless of the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee, is currently not in a position to reallocate medals to Russian athletes.”

Russian sprint canoeist Mikhail Pavlov, a four-time Worlds gold medalist, was disqualified from participation by the International Canoe Federation, apparently for “liking” a video on social media concerning the inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pavlov, 37, was set to try and qualify in the men’s C-2 500 m, with Zakhar Petrov, but were replaced by Alexey Korovashkov and Ivan Shtyl, who won the European Qualifying event on Wednesday in Szeged (HUN) and, subject to review of their “neutrality,” will go to Paris.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that “more than 60 countries” are expected to be represented at the 11-23, 20-sport June BRICS Games in Kazan (RUS).

Tickets have gone on sale for the event, according to TASS, “ticket prices range between 100 and 300 rubles (between $1 and $3).”

The creation of a new, anti-doping laboratory in Russia is at a standstill, according to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency Director General, Veronika Loginova:

“My opinion is that we are not ready yet, the issue has not been worked out, so that we move away from the system that exists and move on to a new, independent one.

“We have a concept, it has been worked out. But there are questions about the materials that are used in analysis. For most analyses, reagents and other consumables are available, but some materials are purchased from abroad, and we do not receive them.”

She said that Russian doping samples are tested aboard, with 36% going to Ankara (TUR), 33% to Seibersdorf (AUT), 30% to Ghent (BEL) and 1% to Cologne (GER).

Loginova also noted that requests by RUSADA for testing of samples at foreign labs for the BRICS Games and September’s Friendship Games are meeting with resistance, due to the requests by the IOC not to support these events.

● Ukraine ● Sad news of the first Ukrainian Olympian to die in service fighting the Russian invasion of his country: weightlifter Oleksandr Pielieshenko, on Sunday (5th) at age 30.

Pielieshenko was the European champion at 85 kg in 2016 and 2017 and placed fourth at the Rio 2016 Games at 85 kg. He joined the Ukrainian infantry shortly after the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

● Athletics ● In an interview during the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Carl Lewis said that there is a good reason why interest in his best event – the long jump – is low right now.

“Why is the long jump not popular? Because no one’s jumping far..

“It’s not rocket science. When you have a generation that got used to people that were jumping 8.60 m (28-2 3/4) and competition was there, people were excited … With the long jump at one point, you really felt like ‘I want to be there because I’m going to see something special’.”

Lewis, the head coach at the University of Houston, cited the difficulty of the event, combining speed and technique and then went further:

“I just don’t think our culture is raising kids to do that anymore. It’s just not in the culture to work that hard, to not be distracted. It’s just not there.

“And in our culture, I’m not talking about just athletes but I’m talking about kids. What I had to go through, a kid now? ‘Oh no, got to stop, mental health’. Seriously, I’m just being honest.”

Wow.

Another Kenyan doping positive, this time for marathoner Josephine Chepkoech, 35, for testosterone, with a charge issued by the Athletics Integrity Unit on 7 May. Chepkoech won the women’s division in the Santiago (ESP) Marathon on 28 April in 2:30:16, and was second at the Sevilla Marathon in February in 2:22:38.

She was previously sanctioned for doping for two years from March 2015 to March 2017 for a positive test for steroids on 31 December 2014. If confirmed this time, she will be in for a long sanction.

● Badminton ● The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Center for SafeSport informed the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and USA Badminton that an arbitrator had upheld a five-year sanction against former USA Badminton chief executive Linda French for interference in the reporting of an abuse allegation by a staff member.

● Boxing ● World Boxing met for the first time with the International Olympic Committee, specifically Sports Director Kit McConnell (NZL), on Monday in Lausanne:

“During the meeting the IOC clearly indicated that the new International Federation had to be supported by a global body of National Federations and the new International Federation had to show evidence of proper governance and leadership for the sport for the IOC to consider to put boxing back on the Olympic programme of LA28.

“Currently World Boxing is the only suitable International Federation to fulfil this mandate and is grateful to the IOC for starting a formal dialogue and outlining a future pathway to keep the sport in the Olympic Games.”

The IOC has said the clock is ticking and could make the decision on boxing and 2028 by early 2025.

● Cycling ● At the 107th Giro d’Italia, Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar continues as the unchallenged leader, with a 46-second edge on Geraint Thomas (GBR) after the fifth stage.

Wednesday’s rise, a 179 km route from Genoa to Lucca with one significant climb early, saw a breakaway by four riders at the 100 km mark: Enzo Paleni (FRA), Michael Valgren (DEN), Andrea Pietrobon (ITA) and Benjamin Thomas (FRA). Pietrobon attacked with less than 2 km left, but was caught by Valgren, who then saw Thomas whiz by to win the stage in 3:59:59, with Valgren and Pietrobon given the same time and Paleni three seconds back. It’s Thomas’s first win in a Grand Tour.

Stage four on Tuesday also had a major early climb, but the last 60 km were mostly flat. That means a mass finish for the sprinters, with Italy’s Jonathan Milan powering to victory in 4:16:03 for the 190 km ride to Andora. Kaden Groves (AUS) and Phil Bauhaus (GER) finished 2-3.

● Flag Football ● With Flag Football now on the program for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee is obligated to support a National Governing Body for the sport. So, on Tuesday came the announcement:

“This serves as public notice that the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is seeking applications for certification as the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of Flag Football in the United States.”

Indianapolis-based USA Football, founded in 2002, is the American member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) and will not doubt be confirmed. But it has to apply, with the deadline set for 7 June 2024.

● Shooting ● The ISSF World Cup in Baku (AZE) continues, with Korea taking wins in the women’s 25 m Pistol and 10 m Air Rifle.

Twenty-year-old Jiin Yang (KOR) equaled her own world record of 41/50 in the 25 m Pistol final, previously at the Asian Championships in January, to defeat Nan Zhao (CHN: 37). In the 10 m Air Rifle final. Korea’s Ji-hyeon Keum edged China’s Zifei Wang, 253.4 to 252.3. American Mary Tucker was fifth (186.0).

The men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol title went to two-time Olympian, Dr. Martin Podhrasky (CZE: 40), who won a shoot-off (5-2) with China’s Xinjie Wang after both scored 32 in the final. Tokyo Olympic silver winner Lihao Sheng led a Chinese 1-2 in the men’s 10 m Air Rifle, out-scoring Linshu Du by 251.8 to 251.4. American Rylan Kissell finished seventh (143.0).

Competition continues through the 12th.

● Swimming ● A surprise as Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, the Tokyo Olympic men’s 400 m Freestyle gold medalist, said he would not compete in Paris.

He did not give specific reasons, but his form has been off in 2024, ranking 31st in the world in his specialty, and 23rd in the 800 m Free. Hafnaoui had been training in the U.S., but left the University of Indiana team after two meets this season.

● Wrestling ● Tokyo Olympic 86 kg Freestyle gold medalist David Taylor of the U.S. did not make the U.S. Team for Paris, but will take over a legendary collegiate program as he was named as the head coach for Oklahoma State on Monday.

Taylor, 33, who also own three World titles at 86 kg (2018-22-23), takes over for another U.S. wrestling legend in John Smith, the 1988 and 1992 Olympic 62 kg Freestyle winner, who oversaw the Cowboys’ program for 33 years and won five NCAA team titles and had 33 individual NCAA national championship wins.

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