Sports court to start Russian Olympic doping appeals Monday

The Court of Arbitration of Sport will begin appeals hearings on Monday for 39 Russian athletes disqualified from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games for doping and banned for life from the Olympics. (AP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Sports court to start Russian Olympic doping appeals Monday

LAUSANNE: The Court of Arbitration of Sport will begin appeals hearings on Monday for 39 Russian athletes disqualified from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games for doping and banned for life from the Olympics.
Two key witnesses, Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov and World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren, will testify by video or telephone link to the closed-door hearings, CAS said in a statement Wednesday.
The court said the combined hearings should last for six days at a conference center in Geneva, near the European headquarters of the United Nations.
One panel of three judges will hear 28 cases and a second trio will judge 11. Two of the judges — Christoph Vedder and Dirk-Reiner Martens, both from Germany — will sit on both three-man panels, CAS said.
Verdicts are expected by Friday, Feb. 2, one week before the Pyeongchang Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea.
A further three appeal cases in biathlon will not be heard next week, the court said.
All 42 athletes deny being part of a state-backed doping program for the Sochi Olympics.
The first group of athletes whose hearings have been combined are in bobsled, cross-country skiing, skeleton and speed skating. They include athletes who have continued to compete in World Cup races not controlled by the IOC.
The second group of 11 cases is from bobsled, luge and women’s ice hockey.


Van Dijk backs Salah to shine in Kiev showpiece

Updated 26 May 2018
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Van Dijk backs Salah to shine in Kiev showpiece

  • Virgil van Dijk: He (Mohamed Salah) is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals.”
  • Van Dijk: “To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.”

LIVERPOOL: As Mohamed Salah prepares for a career-defining period, Virgil van Dijk is confident his Liverpool teammate’s star will only shine brighter on football’s biggest stages.
The Liverpool frontman will face-off with Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid tonight in the Champions League final before heading off to a debut World Cup with Egypt.
And having witnessed an incredible season that has brought 44 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League ­— for the Egyptian star, Reds defender van Dijk says he has the all-round ability to strike fear into the reigning European champions and international sides.
“He is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals,” said the Dutchman of the 25-year-old Salah. “It’s complete for him.
“He’s like everyone in our squad, laidback, calm, no big personalities and egos. We work hard for each other and just want to be better.
“I think he can definitely be the best in Europe, but there are two other players who are pretty good at the moment as well (in Ronaldo and Lionel Messi). I hope for Mo it happens because he deserves it. He is that kind of player to light up a World Cup as well.”
While all eyes will be on Salah and Ronaldo as potential match-winners in Kiev, van Dijk, 26, will have a major role on the defensive front.
The game will offer the center-back the chance to prove he was worth the £75 million ($100 million) it cost to sign him from Southampton in January.
“Any player who arrived at this club, they want to play in these games, they want to be under this kind of pressure, they want to get trophies,” he said.
“I don’t think I have been bought to win the Champions League final. I have been bought to hopefully get the best out of myself and the best out of the team with the help of everyone else.
“To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.
“Against Manchester City in the away game (of the quarter final) I was a little bit too calm in the beginning, for example. That is something I have to learn as well. To be in the final right now, it has been a crazy journey.”
Watching last season’s final between Real and Juventus, van Dijk realized just how much he wanted to be a part of the competition — and why Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were the club for him, despite interest from City.
“I never really go to big games to watch as a fan, but I was in Cardiff,” he recalled. “The sponsors (Sony) hooked us up with two fantastic seats and it was two hours from where I used to live, so we thought, ‘let’s go.’
“From the moment I got there a lot of people in hospitality were Liverpool fans and they were saying, ‘join, please join.’