Brakes still on for Hamilton
Marblehead cyclist awaits doping ruling
(Correction: Because of a reporting error, the Olympic notes in yesterday's sports section incorrectly stated that Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, was a candidate to become president of UCI, the international cycling federation.)
Still in limbo seven months after testing positive for blood doping is Marblehead cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who's waiting for the US Anti-Doping Agency to decide his fate. Though Hamilton's three-day hearing ended March 2, USADA hasn't closed the case. When it does, the arbitrators have 10 days to make their ruling.
If Hamilton escapes a two-year ban, he might get to race in this summer's Tour de France. Phonak, his old Swiss-based racing team, won its appeal to get back on the pro tour and boss Andy Rihs says he'd be "open to discussion" about reinstating Hamilton if he's cleared.
No track stars
There was nothing shiny for the hosts at the recent world track cycling championships in Carson, Calif., the first on US soil in 19 years. Best finish was a sixth place by Jennie Reed in the women's keirin. Erin Mirabella, who won bronze in Athens, was 13th in the points race, and former Olympic and world champion Marty Nothstein was 10th in the madison in his final global appearance. Topping the table with nine medals were the Australians, with the British claiming four titles.
The dope on UCI
Yes, the Dick Pound who may take over as president of the international cycling federation is the same Dick Pound who heads the World Anti-Doping Agency. Seems that Pound and UCI chief Hein Verbruggen had a heated encounter inside the Los Angeles airport after the world championships over Pound's longstanding criticism of the federation's foot-dragging on doping. Verbruggen reportedly called Pound a windbag and challenged him to do better. Pound, who says that the number of doping cases in cycling last year was "pathetic," agreed and is likely to be named president as of the end of June.
No tests, no medals
Landmark ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which upheld the International Olympic Committee's decision to strip Hungarian athletes Robert Fazekas and Adrian Annus of their Athens gold medals for skipping doping tests. Fazekas, a discus thrower, refused to provide a complete urine sample. Annus, a hammer thrower whose original samples appeared to come from different people, didn't show up for a follow-up. The decision affirmed the IOC policy that refusing a doping test is the same as testing positive. Meanwhile, Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, who were cleared by their federation after skipping tests at the Games, likely will be banned by the international track-and-field federation anyway. "I don't believe that our champions will be able to ever return to the track," says Greek federation president Vassilis Sevastis.
Adjudged a success
Don't look for any substantial changes to figure skating's code of points scoring system before next year's Winter Games. "We have a success," International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta declared at the recent world championships in Moscow. "If the judges will drive the new car properly, it will be a great success at the Olympic Games." Though the ISU may tweak the base values for individual elements at its June council meeting, there's no chance it will change the new system's most controversial aspect -- anonymous judging. "Anonymity has been included to prevent the possibility of influencing judges," says Cinquanta, who wants no repeat of the Olympic pairs scandal. Critics, including US Figure Skating, say that anonymity precludes accountability.
If the Olympics were held today, the US would have to dip down to ninth place in the rankings to find three ice dance couples to send to Turin. Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto (1) are ineligible because Belbin is a Canadian. Lydia Manon and Ryan O'Meara (3) have split up. Tiffany Stiegler-Sergey Magerovskiy (4) and Morgan Matthews-Maxim Zavozin (5) are ineligible because the men are Russians. Kendra Goodwin and Brent Bommentre (6) have split up and Kate Slattery and Chuen Gun Lee (7) are ineligible because Lee is a Korean. That would leave Julia and Philipp Rey (8) and the Skating Club of Boston's Lindsay Evans and Kevin O'Keefe (9) to join Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov (2), who just gained citizenship this year.
Why not US?
The US women's ice hockey team, which polished off China by six goals in its opener, is on its usual collision course with perennial champion Canada at the world championships in Sweden. The Americans, who play Germany today and Finland tomorrow, have never beaten their northern neighbors in the tournament. The Canadians are gunning for their ninth straight title.
Yanks rock solid
Amazing performance by US curler Cassie Johnson, whose rink upset Canada and took the silver medal behind Sweden at the world championships in Scotland. Johnson, a 23-year-old student at Bemidji (Minn.) State who knocked off former world champ and two-time Olympian Debbie McCormick to make the team, will be the US entry at the Olympics. The Americans just missed a medal in Salt Lake. The US males, with Pete Fenson at skip, are off to a fantastic start at their worlds in British Columbia, winning their first four matches and beating the host Canadians yesterday at the global event for only the second time in 20 years. The Yanks, on the bubble to qualify for the Games, could win a medal for the first time since 1993.
Trials go swimmingly
Picking up where he left off at Olympus is swimmer Michael Phelps, who already has qualified in eight events with two days remaining in the trials for this summer's world meet in Montreal. Phelps, despite a stress fracture in his back, made the squad in the 100, 200, and 400 freestyles, the 100 butterfly, the 200 individual medley, and three relays. Phelps, now a Michigan freshman, also is favored to become the first athlete in the 74-year-history of the Sullivan Award to win the trophy in consecutive years. Other finalists for the award, which goes to the nation's best amateur athlete, are swimmer Natalie Coughlin, gymnasts Paul Hamm and Carly Patterson, runner Jeremy Wariner, boxer Andre Ward, football player Matt Leinart, wrestler Cael Sanderson, taekwondo fighter Steve Lopez, and karate fighter Elisa Au. For the first time, the public was invited to cast ballots, which will count for a third of the final tally. The winner will be announced April 13 in New York.
A Fab 11
Most of the Fab 5 may have moved on, but the US women's soccer team still rules the world. With Christie Welsh (five goals) stepping up, the Americans won their third straight Algarve Cup in Portugal without allowing a goal, blanking Germany, 1-0, in the final. Captain Kristine Lilly, still chugging at 33, has signed on with KIF Orebro of the Swedish league, where she and former Boston Breakers teammate Kate Markgraf will play for old coach Pia Sundhage . . . Strong season's debut by Olympic medalist Deena Kastor, who breezed to a wire-to-wire victory in the US 8K championships in New York, then shattered Lynn Jennings's 14-year-old American mark (25:02) with a 24:36 at last weekend's Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago. Brookline native Jonathon Riley, making his pro debut on the road in New York, was ninth in the men's race won by Jorge Torres. Riley is headed back to the track for the outdoor season.
Bode Miller's World Cup skiing trophy ended up like Humpty Dumpty, the crystal globe shattered into shards in his checked luggage by the time it arrived in New Hampshire en route from Austria. Though his father Woody volunteered to glue it back together, Miller likely will be able to get a replacement from the international federation.
If its international federation doesn't clean up its act, taekwondo could be dumped from the Olympic program. Bad enough that longtime president (and IOC vice president) Un Yong Kim is serving a two-year jail sentence in South Korea for embezzlement and bribery and faces near-certain expulsion from the IOC this summer. Now, there are questions about the legitimacy of interim president Chong Won Choue, one of two candidates in this month's elections. If the sport, a political cesspool for years, is dropped, odds are that either karate or the Chinese martial art of wushu could be added.
Material from the International and US Olympic Committees, international and domestic sports federations, wire services, and personal interviews was used in this report.