February 28th, 2014
This week, Deadspin wrote an article about husband-and-wife team Gary di Silvestri and Angelica Morrone, and their road to the Olympics. Morrone, 48, and di Silvestri, 47, competed in the Sochi Olympics under the banner of the Carribbean nation of Dominica. They came as skiers, the sole delegates – and, indeed, the first-ever delegates – to the winter Olympics from Dominica. XC Oregon elite team coach JD Downing accompanied them at the Games as their coach.
Di Silvestri and Morrone live in the United States, and are U.S. and Italian citizens, but received citizenship to Dominica reportedly as a gift for charitable work the couple did in the country. What work they did is not clear, but Deadspin is not shy about insinuating that the pair likely purchased “economic citizenship” for $175,000, plus a few thousand more in associated fees.
Deadspin pulls no punches in characterizing Morrone and di Silvestri as petty, vain, and wildly-wealthy yet morally bankrupt characters. It devotes multiple paragraphs to a scandal from the mid-1990′s involving Morrone’s role as a marketer for the car company Fiat in bribing, ironically, International Olympic Committee members to pick the Italian town of Sestriere for the 1997 World Ski Championships. Deadspin also devotes an entire article to their pre-Olympic pasts as tax-dodgers.
But FasterSkier is a ski website – so how about their results?
Both had to successfully qualify for the Olympics. Morrone’s biography on the FIS website shows that she finished all of her 14 starts, with her best result being fourth-from-last. Di Silvestri’s biography on the FIS website that out of nine starts he failed to finish two, was last place in five, second-to-last once, and fifth-from-last once, setting the couple’s high-water mark in their professional ski careers.
The Olympics did not go well for Morrone and di Silvestri. Morrone broke her nose – badly – in a crash during training on an icy portion of the course, ending her Olympic Games before they started. She would’ve been the oldest Olympic cross-country skier of all time (by seven years) had she done the 10 k. Di Silvestri only made it 300 meters in his race before collapsing due to a severe infection with bacterial gastroenteritis, ostensibly from drinking the water in Sochi. Evidently, he hadn’t gotten the memo.
The article also followed up on di Silvestri’s athletic background, as he explained to NBC OlympicTalk.
He told NBC he ”was a two-time state wrestling champion” and that he “rowed for a national championship team at Georgetown.” Di Silvestri’s WordPress blog and LinkedIn pages state that he “earned … three New York Downstate Wrestling Championships while a student at Monsignor Farrell High School.”
Deadspin contacted Long Island wrestling aficionado Steve Meehan, “who has compiled a comprehensive history of the New York state championship meets from 1962 through last year [and] says his records show that di Silvestri ‘was never’ a state titlist. In fact, di Silvestri’s name doesn’t show up anywhere in Meehan’s database, which includes the top six finishers for every year in the last half-century.”
While di Silvestri, who attended a Catholic high school school, could have won a title at one of the tournaments between Catholic institutions, Meehan said, he wouldn’t actually be a state champion. There’s also no evidence that “downstate wrestling championships” exist anywhere, even outside New York.
According to a 2000 article in the Staten Island Advance, di Silvestri reportedly payed $100,000 for the naming rights to his high-school wrestling room, and when he was then inducted into Monsignor Farrell’s Hall of Fame, the article states he was a “Staten Island Advance All-Star” as a wrestler, not a city or state champion.
Di Silvestri also told NBC he “rowed for a national championship team” in college, which is reiterated by his LinkedIn resume, stating he “rowed for the national champion Hoya crew team.” Deadspin points out that “the NCAA holds a crew championship for women, but not for men.” There is a “de facto national championship” in college boating for men, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association [IRA] Championship Regatta, which dates back to 19th-century races on the Hudson River.
Di Silvestri went to Georgetown in the late-’80s, and no boat from Georgetown won an IRA championship during the years he was enrolled there. Georgetown’s crew coach at the time, Whit Fosburgh told Deadspin di Silvestri tried out for a spot in his team’s top boats, and while he was a well-liked, hard worker, di Silvestri didn’t posses the talent to row in the big regattas.
“Gary wasn’t in the boats that medaled those years,” Fosburgh said, “so it wouldn’t be accurate to say he was on the medal stand, getting the medals around his neck. But working as hard as he did for as little success as he had, that made him very popular.”
The couple’s Olympic ski coach, Downing, 47, recently told The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., that he’s known the di Silvestris for eight years and questioned the validity of the reports claiming they scammed the Olympics.
“I don’t know everything about their lives, but I don’t know everything about all the athletes I’ve worked with,” Downing said Tuesday. “But I do know when it comes to their participation in the Olympics, their qualification, what actually happened at the Olympics, everything was done by the book, everything was done legitimately. And anybody who says otherwise is fabricating.”8 comments
February 27th, 2014
— Justyna Kowalczyk, the Polish Olympian who notched her second gold and fifth medal at the recent Sochi Winter Games, announced via Facebook that she’s done for the season, citing her broken foot as the reason.
“Forgive me, Jusytna will not compete any more this season,” the post read, according to translation from TV2 and NRK. “The foot comes up, but she still needs a lot of painkillers to train and compete. It’s time to stop with all these chemicals. Winter time is over.”
Kowalczyk, 31, won the Olympic 10-kilometer classic individual start on Feb. 13, but did not finish the final race in Sochi — the 30 k freestyle — because of the pain in her foot. She had originally planned to race at the final World Cups in Drammen and Olso, Norway, and Falun, Sweden, in March. She has not announced when she intends to retire, although she expected 2014 would be her last Olympics.
— There’s nothing wrong with a little xenon, according to Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA) Chief Vladmir Uiba.
“Xenon is not an illegal gas,” Uiba told Russian news agencies on Wednesday, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “We have a principle not to use what is forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).”
Uiba went on the record to address Germany’s WDR television and other reports this month claiming “top Russian athletes have been using xenon to improve their performance at Olympic Games from Athens 2004 right up to the just completed Sochi 2014 Winter Games,” the AFP reported.
“It is possible that our sportsmen have been using xenon inhalators but there is nothing wrong with that,” Uiba said. “We use what is not illegal, is not destructive and does not have side effects.”
The act of inhaling xenon stimulates the production of Erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that produces red blood cells in the body. More red blood cells = a boost in performance.
While the injection of EPO is considered doping and banned by WADA, inhaling a gas that naturally stimulates its production isn’t illegal and “regarded by many experts as grey area,” according to the AFP.
— Anyone who’s everyone wanted to ask elite-international athletes questions will have the chance during the upcoming Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, from March 7-16, with several athletes available to chat on Google Hangouts.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced Thursday that it will host daily Google Hangouts with the select athletes that have opted to participate. Each day at 5 p.m. Moscow time, athletes will answer questions posted throughout the day. On-demand videos of the conversations will also be available.
The participating Paralympians for nordic are: Japan’s Kozo Kubo, a two-time Paralympic sit-ski biathlete who won gold and two silvers at last year’s World Championships; and two Norwegians: Mariann Marthinsen, both a Summer (swimming) and Winter Paralympian, and Nils-Erik Ulset, a four-time Paralympic standing skier with three golds and eight total medals.
Muffy Davis, a Paralympic cyclist, sit-skier and mountain climber, won four medals for the U.S. from 1998 to 2002, and three-time Paralympic alpine skier Eric Villalon, who racked up nine medals and five golds for Spain, will moderate the Hangouts.
The IPC also announced earlier this week that 30 of the world’s top winter athletes will record “exclusive behind the scenes video blogs” during the Sochi Paralympics. For more, follow the Paralympic Games on Twitter: @Paralympic.4 comments
February 23rd, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Norway’s TV2 is reporting that Austrian skier Johannes Duerr has tested positive for the blood-doping drug erythropoetin (EPO).
26-year-old Duerr was third in the Tour de Ski this winter. At the Olympics so far, he placed 8th in the 30 k skiathlon. He was planning to compete in today’s 50 k race but has been pulled.
After the 30 k, Duerr returned to Austria to train for the nearly two weeks before his next race. It was there, in Obertilliach, that he was tested on February 16.
“We are shocked by this message, have immediately taken appropriate measures,” Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said in a statement posted on the OOC website. “The athlete was informed and advised of his rights, his accreditation was removed and the immediate exclusion from the Olympic team was completed. Dürr has already begun the journey home.”
Duerr spoke to the press at the airport on his way home from Sochi.
“So many people have been doing all they could to help me and now I’ve disappointed them with my silliness,” he told the Associated Press. “I am not afraid. I am in a way glad it has come to an end… This is the worst thing I’ve done in my life. This is very, very tough. You can’t explain this in three sentences.”
An updated start list from FIS notes, “removed DUERR Johannes (AUT) from Start List as implementation of IOC decision from 22 FEB 2014″.
“Doping is clearly not compatible with my ideological views on the sport,” Duerr wrote on his website (according to a translation), although the statement has now been deleted and his facebook fanpage closed. “So for me it’s clear, I will live my sport and to engage with passion and plenty of hard work and without doping try to the top,” he had written, adding that the doping scandal in 2006 in Torino was a black mark on sport in Austria and had shaped him as an athlete.
Now, his webpage reads only “As is already known from the media, there is doping allegations against JoE. A statement on this sensitive issue occurs after clarity on this situation prevails.”
According to the Associated Press, Stoss said in a press conference that Duerr had told the Olympic Committee that he had acted on his own and nobody else on the team was involved.
We’ll update this as soon as we have more information. For now, Link to TV2 articleNo comments
February 22nd, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Whatever Lowell Bailey’s teammates requested of him as the first leg of their 4 x 7.5-kilometer relay, they couldn’t have asked for much more than what the 32-year-old U.S. biathlete delivered on Saturday in their final race of the Olympics.
Bailey opened with the fifth-fastest course time and clean shooting through prone to put his team in ninth, then rose to fifth after cleaning his standing stage. He finished out his leg in fourth, 17.3 seconds back from Norway’s Tarjei Bø in the lead.
“I feel like that was pretty much exactly what I wanted to do today,” said Bailey, a three-time Olympian. “I wanted to push the pace in the first loop, so I was pretty aggressive there, and then things went well on the range. I didn’t try to push on the shooting, I didn’t try to do anything except hit the targets.”
Bailey said he focused on taking quality shots and it worked on the windless, 40-degree evening.
The team was without Tim Burke, who was out sick, and made a game plan with three Olympic-relay first-timers: Russell Currier, Sean Doherty and Leif Nordgren. Doherty was in his first race of the Games after arriving roughly a week ago. Nordgren was still sick, skiing for the first time since Tuesday.
Currier struggled with prone, using all three spares then having to ski three penalty loops. His standing was better, with two spares, and his fifth-fastest second loop brought the team from 17th to 14th. Currier closed out the last loop in 15th, 2:21 behind the leaders.
Doherty used three spare rounds on prone, but cleaned standing to keep the team in 15th, tagging off to Nordgren as the anchor, 3:45.7 out from the lead.
“A few too many prone there. I can’t be too happy with that, but it was a high pace right from the get-go,” Doherty said. “I’ve been just trying to keep a level head with all the excitement and emotions running high here. It’s the first Olympic start, it’s really exciting. So it as just to have a good plan and executing it. And I almost did it! So I’m happy.”
Nordgren had two spares on each of his stages and continued to ski in 15th, before Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev edged him by 0.7 seconds for 15th.
The U.S. men placed 16th out of 19 teams, the last three of which were lapped.
“I wasn’t expecting much,” Nordgren said. “I was able to hang with the Bulgarian guy on the last loop, which was more than I expected. Shooting-wise, I wasn’t really happy with that. I kind of struggled in standing with the two extras. It was an okay race. I’m happy with it, considering how I feel.”
Bailey said the team shouldn’t take the result to heart — they’re a young team that assembled as needed on a day when when of their best guys was out.
“Relays, they are tough races,” Bailey said. “It’s tough having Tim sick. All these guys have the capacity to have world-class performances, but it’s a tough sport. Unfortunately, when you have a couple of penalty laps it sets you back a lot. Russell was ready, I saw he put four seconds into the leaders on that first lap. So he’s definitely there.
“We’ve had the relay as a target for a long time, and nothing really went as planned,” he added. “Which is actually a lot of what biathlon is all about, is adapting when plans change. That being said, I’m happy with my individual performance. It was definitely, some races I underperformed, some races I did what I set out to do. I’m happy overall with the Olympics. Of course you always hope for medals. But to come within one shot at a medal, that’s something to be proud of.”
Bailey placed eighth in the 20 k individual earlier in the Games for US Biathlon’s best-ever Olympic result.No comments
February 22nd, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Ukrainian cross country skier Marina Lisogor has failed a doping test at the Sochi Olympics.
According to the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, Lisogor tested positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine. The committee also stated that Lisogor had explained that she took the drug Preductal without realizing that it contained a banned substance.
Preductal is available in several Eastern European countries, the Russian Federation, and other form Soviet republics. Trimetazidine is the main ingredient. The drug improves glucose usage in heart muscle, improving energy metabolism, and is usually prescribed for angina pectoris, chest pain due to obstructions or spasms in the coronary arteries. However, because of side effects, it is not advised to prescribe the drug unless other drugs are unable to control angina pain.
Trimetazidine is also sometimes included in drugs which treat dizziness and tinnitis, although not as frequently anymore due to the same side effects.
It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list on January 1st of this year. In the Q&A section of the WADA site, the organization explained, “cathinone and its analogues (e.g. mephedrone, methedrone, a- pyrrolidinovalerophenone) and trimetazidine have been added as examples to reflect emerging patterns of drug use.”
Lisogor said in a statement posted on the Ukrainean Olympic Committee website that the medicine had been prescribed by her doctor and she did not realize that it had been added to the banned list.
“I had a typhoid surgery back in 2004. After that cardiologist recommended to take the drug product ‘Preductal’ to support my physical condition. This medicine is sold out of prescription and is widely used by physicians. Before taking ‘Preductal’ I made sure that it did not consisted forbidden ingredients. I used ‘Preductal’ again at the 2014 Olympics not knowing that it was included into the list of substances forbidden to use during competition period since January 1st, 2014. It is my personal fault, and I’m very sorry I let this happened. But I would like to declare that I’ve done this mistake unintentionally. I delivered the same message to the IOC Disciplinary Commission. I told them the truth. Once again I apologize for this frustrating case.”
Lisogor, 30 years old, finished 58th in the individual sprint. She pulled out of the team sprint after teammate Kateryna Serdyuk had an injury. She has only had five World Cup starts in her career, all in sprints and all finishing outside of the top 30.No comments
February 21st, 2014
Here’s a link to the International Olympic Committee’s decision on German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle’s positive drug test at the Olympics in Sochi:
February 21st, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – There has been a positive doping test by a nordic sports athlete here at the Olympic Games in Sochi. Although it was initially reported that the athlete was Norwegian, that appears to be incorrect and the athlete is actually German.
No further details have emerged as the case is in the hands of the IOC until the “B” sample can be analyzed, which will reportedly happen this afternoon although this is uncomfired. Sources within the German team have confirmed that it is either a cross country skier or a biathlete.
“All I can say is, we have a positive ‘A’ sample (somewhere on the German Olympic team),” German press officer Stefan Schwarzbach told the Associated Press. “But as long as we don’t have a positive ‘B’ sample, we are not allowed to talk about that.”
Schwarzbach is the press officer for cross country skiing and biathlon.
We will add updates to this story as soon as more details are available.2 comments
February 21st, 2014
A German radio report says that a sample from Estonian Olympic champion Kristina Smigun-Vähi from the 2006 games has been found to be positive after being retested by the International Olympic Committee.
The report, which has been circulating over the last two days in European media, says that IOC retests of samples from the 2006 games revealed four positives, at least one of which belonged to Smigun-Vähi, who won two individual medals in Torino.
Earlier this month, news broke that the samples of one or two Estonian skiers from Torino had been found positive after retesting, and that they most likely belonged to Smigun Vähi and Andrus Veerpalu, who had also won a gold medal in 2006.
The Estonian Olympic Committee’s secretary general acknowledged that he had received a letter in December from the IOC detailing the problems, though he did not release additional details.
When the initial reports emerged earlier this month, Smigun-Vähi released a statement that said: ”All these tests were analyzed thoroughly eight years ago and they all confirmed one thing – I have not used forbidden substances. All these tests, each one of them, were clean. They had to be since I have never used a forbidden substance.”
The IOC has said it will not release the results from the 2006 retests until after the conclusion of the Sochi games.
Veerpalu last year won an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a case against the International Ski Federation (FIS), which had said the Estonian had been caught using human growth hormone in 2011.
The court said that FIS had failed to meet the burden of proof in the case, even though it appeared likely that Veerpalu had in fact used banned substances.No comments
February 20th, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Only three teams out of nine were truly in the medal hunt from start to finish of Thursday’s large-hill/4 x 5-kilometer team event — the last nordic-combined competition of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Norway’s Jørgen Graabak ultimately tested the two others (Germany’s Fabian Riessle and Austria’s Mario Stecher) on the last hill of the final leg, leading them into the stadium then edging Riessle by 0.3 seconds for gold in 47:13.5. Austria took bronze, 3.4 seconds after Norway.
The Norwegians (with Magnus Moan, Håvard Klemetsen, Magnus Krog, and Graabak, the individual gold medalist in the large-hill/10 k two days earlier) overcame a 25-second deficit on the first 2.5 k lap of the first leg. They had started third behind Germany (with Eric Frenzel, Bjørn Kircheisen, Johannes Rydzek, and Riessle), who combined for the best jumps and started 7 seconds ahead of Austria (Lukas Klapfer, Christoph Bieler, Bernhard Gruber, and Stecher) in second.
Austria had won the last two Olympic team events, but Gruber started to fall off the back as Krog and Rydzek picked up the pace at the end of the third leg.
The U.S. finished sixth, 2:21.6 behind Norway, after starting eighth and 1:52 back from the leaders. Bryan Fletcher led them out to immediately making up ground on the first leg, Todd Lodwick skied the second leg, Taylor Fletcher went third, and Billy Demong anchored to edge the Czech Republic by 1 second.No comments
February 20th, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – The Canadian women’s team sprint pairing of Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova finished fifth in their Olympic semifinal Wednesday, but failed to advance to the final heat.
“I gave it everything I had, for sure, on the last lap,” Jones said. “But I think Dasha and I both left it all out there. We did everything we could. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough today.”
For both Jones and Gaiazova, the team sprint race was likely the last Olympic race of their careers.
“We’re in together,” Jones said.
Gaiazova said she had some problems with her skis, but still “gave her all.”
“I could not have gone any harder,” she said. “So, I mean, it’s a great way to finish the Olympics.”No comments