— 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.