Russian speed skater Victor An ‘banned from Winter Olympic Games for doping’

Russia’s short track speed skating star Victor An has been banned from next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Russian speed skater Victor An ‘banned from Winter Olympic Games for doping’

MOSCOW: Russia’s short track speed skating star Victor An has been banned from next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after being implicated in allegations of state-sponsored doping, Russian media reported on Monday.
An, the world’s most successful short track speed skater, has been accused in the World Anti-Doping Agency-sponsored McLaren report, TASS news agency reported.
“An has been suspended from participating in the Olympics,” TASS said.
A Russian lawyer said An’s inclusion in the report was “unexpected” because he was not on a list of Russian competitors already barred from the Games over the scandal.
Mikhail Prokopets told Sport Express daily that An would have to miss Pyeongchang because he would have insufficient time to lodge an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before the Olympics begin on February 9.
“We had the names of those suspended beforehand and An was not on this list,” Prokopets said.
“CAS this week will consider the affairs of our Olympians, and An will not have time to get into this hearing, therefore, he will miss the Olympics.”

An, 32, who was born in South Korea as Ahn Hyun-Soo, won three gold medals at the Sochi Games for Russia after switching allegiance to the country in 2011 following a row with South Korean sports officials.
He had previously won three golds at the 2006 Turin Olympics representing South Korea.
He now lives in Russia with his South Korean wife and child.
An had earlier requested permission to compete as a neutral athlete at the upcoming Olympics following the IOC’s ban on Russia’s athletes over the doping allegations.
Dozens of Russian athletes banned by the International Olympic Committee for life over doping began an appeal against their suspension on Monday at CAS, the world’s top sports court.
The week-long hearing includes appeals from 39 Russians who competed at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi that were tarnished by a vast, Moscow-backed doping scheme that included tampering with urine samples, according to multiple independent investigations.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to immediately confirm the reports of An’s ban.
“To protect the rights of the persons involved, the IOC cannot comment on any individual cases but will communicate the invitation list in due course,” it said in a response to AFP.
Svetlana Zhurova — who took gold for Russia in speed skating at the 2006 Olympics and is now deputy of the lower house of parliament — said she did not understand how the Games could go ahead without An.
“Especially (when) the competition is taking place in his homeland. Victor An is without doubt the god of short track. And the IOC has just stripped the competition of its main character,” she said in comments reported by Sport Express daily.


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS