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Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 21 July 2016 05:57    PDF Print
Afanasyeva Forced into Retirement by Illness
(9 votes, average 3.22 out of 5)

Two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva is retiring from competition because of a kidney disease, Russian media reported Thursday.

Two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva is retiring from competition after suffering from a kidney disease, Russian media reported Thursday.

The world and European champion is hospitalized with kidney stones and is facing weeks of recovery, said team coach Valentina Rodionenko, ruining any chances of Afanasyeva competing in a third Olympic Games. As late as Wednesday, the 24 year old had been listed as an alternate for this summer's Olympic Games, with a chronic ankle injury still a question.

Known for her exceptional grace and power, Afanasyeva was a member of Russia's fourth-place team at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she qualified to the final on balance beam. She helped lead Russia to its first world team title two years later in Rotterdam, and in 2011 became world champion on floor exercise. She was the captain of Russia's team that won the silver at the 2012 Olympics in London. She won floor exercise at both the 2013 and 2015 European championships, and won vault and floor at the 2013 University Games.

Afanasyeva was plagued the past several years by an ankle injury, missing the 2013 and 2014 world championships, and underwent multiple surgeries. She returned to the world championships in 2015 and won a silver medal on floor exercise.

She competed on vault only at this spring's European championships in Bern, where she helped Russia win the team title and captured the individual bronze medal on vault.

Afanasyeva, who turns 25 in September, traveled to Germany in June to have scar tissue removed. She and Russia's coaches had hoped she would be able to return in time to compete at the Olympic Games, which begin August 5.

The Russian delegation plans to depart on Sunday for Brazil. Yevgenia Shelgunova has moved into the alternate position for Russia in place of Afanasyeva, with Natalia Kapitanova the second alternate.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 18 July 2016 12:04    PDF Print
FIG Supports Russian Gymnasts at Rio
(12 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) called for Russia's gymnasts to not face any ban from the Olympic Games following the release of the McClaren Report on Monday that alleged widespread doping in Russian sport. Pictured: World and Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) called for Russia's gymnasts to not face any ban from the Olympic Games following the release of the McClaren Report on Monday that alleged widespread doping in Russian sport.

The report, prepared by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), alleged that the Russian Sports Ministry facilitated doping and tampering of doping samples, particularly at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia has already been banned from competing in track & field events at the Olympic Games in Rio, the sport most affected by the doping. WADA and multiple nations have called on Russia to be banned entirely from the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, concerning the FIG.

"FIG is concerned about the increasing number of officials asking for a blanket ban of Russian athletes to participate at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio," the FIG said in a statement. "Whilst FIG fully supports the IOC's policy of 'Zero Tolerance in Doping,' it strongly feels that not all Russian athletes of all sports should be banned and found guilty for actions in other sports and federations."

According to the McClaren Report, in addition to allegations of sample switching in Sochi, Moscow's main anti-doping control laboratory participated in a "Disappearing Positive Methodology" for Russian athletes. From 2012 to 2015, 643 positive samples were falsified under this method, the report stated. The report listed the 10 sports that most benefited as athletics (139 cases), weightlifting (117), non-Olympic sports (37), Paralympic sport (35), wrestling (28), canoe (27), cycling (26), skating (24), swimming (18) and ice hockey (14). No gymnasts were included among the athletes who reportedly benefited from this scheme.

Gymnastics is not a sport that has been plagued by doping scandals. The only gymnast stripped of an Olympic medal after a positive test for doping was Romania's Andreea Raducan, who lost her all-around gold medal in 2000 after testing positive for pseudoephedrine, a substance found in cold medicine that is no longer on the banned substance list.

Several gymnasts have faced sanctions after testing positive for diuretics, which in itself is not a performance-enhancing drug, but is banned because it can be used to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. Diuretics have a history of use by gymnasts for water weight loss, particularly among rhythmic gymnasts. Vietnam's Thi Ngan Thuong Do (2008) and Uzbekistan's Luiza Galiulina (2012) were expelled from the Olympics after positive tests for diuretics. Brazil's Daiane dos Santos faced a competition ban in 2009 for use of diuretics.

The only other significant medal stripped in artistic gymnastics for a positive doping test was the case of Spain's Gervasio Deferr, whose silver medal on floor exercise at the 2002 World Championships was yanked after he tested positive for marijuana.

"Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline athletes cannot be judged based on other sports," the FIG statement read. "Before any actions are taken against FIG's athletes, facts must be presented and doping offenses must be proven. FIG's Russian gymnasts have been subject to controls equal to those of our other leading gymnastics federations. Clean Russian gymnasts must therefore be allowed to compete at the Games."

FIG president Bruno Grandi said Olympic participation should not be "stolen" from the Russian gymnasts because of doping in other sports.

"The rights of every individual athlete must be respected," Grandi said. "Participation at the Olympic Games is the highest goal of athletes who often sacrifice their entire youth to this aim. The right to participate at the Games cannot be stolen from an athlete, who has duly qualified and has not be found guilty of doping. Blanket bans have never been and will never be just."

Last week, as speculation mounted in advance of the report, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach of Germany also appeared against a blanket ban.

"It is obvious you cannot sanction a badminton player for an infringement of the rules by an official or a lab director at the Winter Games," Bach said. "In the same way we would not consider sanctioning all athletes from a particular sport if there is manipulation of the rules by the leadership of a federation. What we have to do is take decisions based on facts and to find the right balance between a collective responsibility and individual justice."

On Monday, Bach called the findings in the report a "shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport" and pledged to pursue "the toughest possible sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated." The IOC Executive Board had planned to next meet on August 3, two days before the Olympics begin in Rio, but scheduled an emergency telephone meeting for Tuesday to discuss "provisional measures and sanctions."

External Link: Download McClaren Report from WADA

Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 18 July 2016 02:16    PDF Print
Tan Jiaxin to Replace Liu Tingting in Rio
(4 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

Two-time world team member Tan Jiaxin will replace Liu Tingting on China's Olympic gymnastics team, it was announced Monday.

Two-time world team member Tan Jiaxin will replace Liu Tingting on China's Olympic gymnastics team, it was announced Monday.

Liu, 15, has been withdrawn because of a hand injury she suffered last week. The first-year senior was the youngest member of China's Olympic squad, but also one of the strongest. She was China's junior national champion in 2015, and she finished third all-around, second on beam, and fifth on uneven bars and floor exercise at this year's national championships.

Tan, 19, was a member of China's silver medal-winning teams at the 2014 and 2015 world championships. She is not an all-arounder, however; Tan's joining the team may leave China with only three gymnasts on beam in qualification, coach Xu Jinglei said, leaving China unable to drop its low score on the event. The Chinese women will start on balance beam in the first subdivision of qualification in Rio de Janeiro.

Tan joins Chinese national champion Shang Chunsong, world uneven bars co-champion Fan Yilin, Mao Yi and Wang Yan on the team to Rio.

Another team alternate, Luo Huan, was previously injured. Liu Jinru will travel to Rio as the team's only alternate.

The Chinese women won the team title at the 2008 Olympic Games and placed fourth in 2012.

Written by dwight normile    Friday, 15 July 2016 09:36    PDF Print
Exclusive Interview With Marta Karolyi in July/August Issue
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

After the chalk and emotions settled from the U.S. Women's Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif., National Team Coordinator Marta Karolyi spoke with IG this week on a variety of topics concerning the 2016 Olympic team.

We wanted to know if Gabby Douglas would have made the team if she had not hit her routines on uneven bars. Here's her response: "Well, in my opinion, probably not. Because at the time we look at the 3-up 3-count; that's our ultimate criteria for the selection. We needed a bar worker. We could choose between Ashton Locklear of Gabby Douglas, and then, if we [compare], we [chose] Gabby because also can offer the other events."

Karolyi candidly answered all of our questions, which included Gabby's new coaching situation — "sometimes you click and sometimes not" — Maggie Nichols not being named at least an alternate; Simone Biles' barani on beam; and whether Douglas can mesh with the team chemistry with all her distractions (her docu-series being one of them) — "Gabby generally is not a social bug like Simone is. She's always had a different personality."

She also commented on the performance of MyKayla Skinner — "I've always liked MyKayla" — her plans for retirement and how she hopes that the U.S. women's program will "continue in the same concept."

Read the entire interview in the July/August issue of International Gymnast, which will mail next week. If you want to start a subscription with that issue, subscribe by Sunday, July 17. Click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 14 July 2016 09:38    PDF Print
Belgium's Klinckaert Suffers Knee Injury
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Belgium's Axelle Klinckaert will miss the upcoming Olympic Games because of a knee injury, the Flemish Gymnastics Federation announced Thursday.

Belgium's Axelle Klinckaert will miss the upcoming Olympic Games because of a knee injury, the Flemish Gymnastics Federation announced Thursday.

Klinckaert suffered the knee injury on Tuesday and will be sidelined for three weeks, keeping her out of the competition. She will be replaced by team alternate Rune Hermans. Julie Meyers is now the team alternate.

Klinckaert, 16, helped Belgium qualify a full team to the Olympic Games via its third-place finish at the Olympic test event, held in April in Rio de Janeiro. She won the all-around silver and gold medals on beam and floor exercise at the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival, and was one of Belgium's top hopes for the Games.

The Belgian women will compete July 23 against France, Germany, Romania and Switzerland. They leave for Rio de Janeiro on July 29.

External Link: Flemish Gymnastics Federation


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