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Russia at Tokyo Olympics with new name, more doping disputes

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Russia is competing under another new name at the Tokyo Olympics, the latest fallout from the Games’ longest-running doping saga.

You won’t see the Russian flag above any podiums but the national colours are on the uniforms.

Doping cases old and new still cast a shadow over the team. Two swimmers from the Tokyo team have been suspended for cases dating back years and two rowers tested positive last month.

REBRANDING RUSSIA

This time it’s not Russia, or even the Olympic Athletes from Russia. It’s the Russian Olympic Committee.

Officially the athletes will represent not their country, but the ROC, and Russia’s name, flag and anthem are banned. Critics point out that it will be hard to spot the difference when Russian teams are wearing full national colours.

The new rules — an evolution of the “OAR” restrictions used at the 2018 Winter Olympics — are a confusing patchwork of dos and don’ts.

Russian red, white and blue on uniforms are fine — the blocks of colour on the official tracksuits form one big flag — but not the word “Russia,” the flag itself or other national symbols. The artistic swimming team said it’s been blocked from wearing costumes with a drawing of a bear.

Official Olympic paperwork and TV graphics will attribute Russian results to “ROC” but won’t spell out the Russian Olympic Committee’s name in full. Gold medallists will get music by Russian composer Tchaikovsky instead of the country’s national anthem.

NEARLY AT FULL STRENGTH

Despite the name change, Russia will have a nearly full team at the Olympics after sending depleted squads to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

This time, only track and field and weightlifting will impose limits on Russian squad size. They are the two sports with the largest numbers of doping cases — from Russia and elsewhere — in recent Olympics. Russian officials have selected a 10-person track team that includes three world champions.

Russia is sending more than 330 athletes to Tokyo, with the exact number still unclear because of uncertainty surrounding the rowing team. That’s about 50 more than in 2016, when the doping-related restrictions hit harder across multiple sports, but still the second-lowest number since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. The team ranges from 16-year-old gymnast Viktoria Listunova to 56-year-old dressage rider Inessa Merkulova.

The ROC team is targeted to finish third in the medal count and gold medals are expected in Russia’s usual strongest sports like gymnastics, artistic swimming, wrestling, fencing and judo.

Only Russian athletes in track and field have had to undergo special vetting of their drug-testing histories or possible involvement in past coverups. World Athletics has its own sanctions against Russia, including an “authorized neutral athlete” certification program. Only athletes with that status were eligible for Tokyo.

Weightlifting has its own system of doping sanctions, restricting team sizes based on past misdeeds. Russia can enter one male and one female lifter for Tokyo, but avoids the outright bans from Olympic weightlifting imposed on the most persistent offenders like Thailand and Romania.

DOPING DISPUTES

The latest rules on Russia’s name and image were set last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a ruling that satisfied almost nobody.

As so often with Russia, the sanctions aren’t as much about doping as about the coverup.

Just when Russia was patching up relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2019 by allowing it access to the Moscow anti-doping lab’s files, WADA investigators spotted strange anomalies in the data. Evidence had been deleted and spurious information added, including fake messages designed to tarnish the name of WADA’s star witness, former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

WADA said the edits were made while the lab was sealed off by a Russian law enforcement body. Russia denied wrongdoing.

The CAS ruling was hailed as a partial victory in Russia, which had its initial four-year sanction cut to two. It was criticized by some anti-doping figures who wanted neutral-colour uniforms at the Olympics and stricter vetting to ensure doping suspects couldn’t compete.

NEW CASES

Russia was back to court ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, but on a smaller scale than its big legal battles from 2016 and 2018.

Swimming governing body FINA had provisionally suspended swimmers Alexander Kudashev and Veronika Andrusenko because of evidence from WADA’s investigation of the Moscow lab data. But CAS on Sunday cleared both swimmers to compete at the Games.

Last week, Russia cut two rowers from its Tokyo squad after revealing they both tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in June. That prompted Russia to withdraw from the men’s quadruple sculls competition when it became clear a substitute boat was not competitive.

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More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

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Trucker sentenced to 12 1/2 years in hotel room death of Edmonton woman

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EDMONTON — A judge has sentenced an Ontario truck driver to 12 1/2 years in prison for killing a woman in his Edmonton hotel room a decade ago.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen Hillier said Bradley Barton will get credit for the days he has already spent in custody, so about 11 years remain in his sentence.

A jury found Barton guilty in February of manslaughter in the death of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Métis and Cree woman who bled to death at the Yellowhead Inn in June 2011.

Medical experts testified the mother of three had four times the legal limit of alcohol in her system when she was left bleeding in a bathtub.

Crown prosecutors argued that while Gladue was passed out, Barton performed a sexual act that caused a severe wound to her vagina, then dumped her in the tub and left her to die.

Barton, 53, testified that he had arranged to pay Gladue for sex and was shocked when he woke in the morning to find her dead and covered in blood in the tub.

Hillier said he rejected what he called the self-serving stories Barton told at his trial to avoid responsibility for the aggressive sexual assault that killed Gladue.

“No words can capture the tragedy and sorrow, particularly for the young family left suddenly without a mother,” Hillier said.

Crown prosecutors had recommended Barton be sentenced to between 18 and 20 years. The defence suggested no more than nine years, saying the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Barton intended to kill Gladue.

The judge said there is no sentence that will bring Gladue back or undo the intergenerational trauma the woman’s death has caused her family.

Outside the courthouse, Gladue’s daughter Cheyanne Gladue said justice has been served but the heartache for the family lives on.

“I only wished Barton would’ve gotten medical help for her … maybe she would’ve been here today,” said Gladue’s mother, Donna McLeod.

She said the family was finally able to bury Gladue last week in northern Alberta.

“We took her home to Athabasca to be home,” McLeod said. “I’d like to thank everyone across Canada all over who supported us. I’m glad to see this all over.”

It was the second trial for Barton.

A jury found him not guilty in 2015 of first-degree murder, which sparked rallies and calls for justice for Indigenous women.

There was also outrage as Gladue’s preserved vaginal tissue was presented in court during the first trial. She was also repeatedly referred to as a “native” and a “prostitute.”

The Alberta Court of Appeal and later the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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Canadian weightlifter Charron wins Canada's second gold in Tokyo

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TOKYO — Weightlifter Maude Charron has won Canada’s second gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

Charron, from Rimouski, Que., finished first in the women’s 64-kilogram competition after a successful lift of 131 kilograms on her third and final clean and jerk attempt.

Charron also had the highest score in the snatch phase, lifting 105 kilograms. Her total of 236 points over the two phases was four better than silver medallist Giorgia Bordignon of Italy.

Wen-Huei Chen of Taiwan finished third.

Charron’s gold is Canada’s second of the games after swimmer Maggie Mac Neil won the women’s 100-metre butterfly on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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