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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

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 13 July 2016 09:06    PDF Print
Marine Brevet: 'I Was Able to Recapture the Pleasure of Training'
(7 votes, average 3.86 out of 5)

Four years after an ill-timed injury kept her out of the Olympic Games in London, veteran French gymnast Marine Brevet is ready to captain her team in her Olympic debut next month in Rio de Janeiro.

Marine Brevet (France)

Brevet, who was born November 23, 1994, in Viriat, has been a member of the French national team for nine years. She placed first all-around at the 2010 French Championships, and second all-around at the 2011 and 2012 French Championships. Key in helping France qualify a team to the 2012 London Games, she finished 31st all-around in qualifications at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam, where France placed 11th; and 33rd all-around in qualifications at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo, where France placed 10th. Brevet was fourth all-around at the Olympic test event in early 2012, where France qualified for the Games by virtue of its third-place finish.

In June 2012, a month prior to the London Olympics, Brevet dislocated an elbow. The following year she tore an Achilles' tendon, but recovered and regained her status on the French squad aiming to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games.

Brevet placed fourth all-around at the 2014 French Championships and third all-around at the 2015 French Championships. She earned France's top all-around ranking (32nd in qualifications) at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, where France finished 13th. Brevet was also France's top all-arounder (29th in qualifications) at the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow, where France placed 10th and advanced to the Olympic test event in Rio in April. There, she placed 33rd all-around and seventh on balance beam, and helped France earn a berth to the Rio Games via its fourth-place finish.

Brevet shared her pre-Rio thoughts in this IG Online interview.

IG: This year you have had a lot of success: sixth on beam and floor and a team bronze at the European Championships, and three finals at the World Challenge Cup in Varna. From your perspective, what makes you stronger and more determined than before?

MB: In the previous cycle I was very young and I got an injury before the Olympic Games that deprived me of my dream. Then a year later I ruptured my Achilles' tendon, and I wanted to quit. I was disgusted by gymnastics. At the end of 2013 a new staff came to INSEP (National Institute of Sport, where she trains). I tried, and with the help of my family and my best friend, Kevin Menaldo, who was also at INSEP, I was able to recapture the pleasure of training in gymnastics with a mentality that was very different from before. I take pleasure from each moment of my life as a gymnast. I am no longer "subjected" to training, and I come to training with a smile. I have become very different.

IG: Why didn't you compete at the French Championships last month?

MB: I did not participate in the French Championships so I could rest a little before the final preparation (for Rio). However, I took the risk to allow myself to be passed by my teammates, but I took the risk, and the points I accumulated since the beginning of the year protected me.

IG: Many gymnasts would have decided to retire in circumstances such as the one you faced before London. Where did you find the courage and determination to continue until Rio?

MB: My family, my friends and my coach (Nellu Pop) are the ones who have put me back on the path of gymnastics. I thank them again and again because, thanks to them, I am following it. My family never pushed me and they also lived through my injuries and my character which was not very agreeable during the 2012 Olympic Games. And for courage, you can say that I succeeded to make myself happy.

IG: On your team, there are gymnasts both young and experienced. As the veteran, what role will you play, to assure team spirit and the confidence of all the girls?

MB: I am the oldest on the team, and the captain. The youngest is 15. They have experience at international competitions, but not as much as I have. I show them the way and give them little techniques so the stress won't rise. We are a nice team with a smile. We have a nice cohesion, even with the coach, and this is what gives us our strength.


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