What will Olympians be allowed to say and do in Sochi without violating the controversial new Russian law banning gay “propaganda”?
That’s what the US Olympic Committee would like to know from the International Olympic Committee so that American athletes, who are outspoken by nature, don’t find themselves in jail at the Games.
“When you start trying to legislate in advance what’s over the line and what’s not, you end up with a lot of examples and not a lot of guidance,” said USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun. “We’re hopeful that the IOC will find ways to add some clarity to that and we’ll share that with our athletes so they can decide how they want to handle it.”
While Thomas Bach, the new IOC president, declared recently that the committee “will not tolerate any form of discrimination” and will enforce the Olympic charter “100 percent,” the charter forbids discrimination involving race, religion, politics, and gender but not sexual orientation.
“I would absolutely vote yes to amend the charter,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst, a new IOC member.
Meanwhile, some US athletes have been ripping the Russian law, which conceivably could punish anyone wearing a rainbow pin while marching in the opening ceremonies.
“I think it’s so embarrassing that there’s countries and people who are that ignorant,” said skier Bode Miller.
The US gymnasts cleaned up at last weekend’s World Championships in Belgium, winning a best-ever dozen medals to easily top the table. Simone Biles and Kyla Ross went 1-2 in the all-around, McKayla Maroney won the vault, and Biles also picked up three event medals, including the floor gold. The surprise came on the men’s side, where the Yanks, who won only one individual medal at the last global meet, grabbed four: silvers from Steven Legendre (vault) and Jake Dalton (floor), and bronzes from John Orozco (parallel bars) and Brandon Wynn (rings) . . . Lindsey Vonn’s rehab of her rebuilt right knee has gone so well that she’s considering competing in the World Cup opener in Austria Oct. 26 instead of waiting until next month. “My knee’s great,” said the Olympic downhill champ, who tested it at the US team’s recent camp in Chile. “No pain, no swelling. I’m quite a lot further along than I and probably everybody else anticipated.” Vonn, who tore her ACL and MCL and fractured her tibial plateau in her first race at last season’s World Championships in Austria, won’t ski the slalom events this season, focusing on her speed specialties. “Being comfortable going that fast again, that’s really the issue,” she said. Meanwhile, Miller is feeling fresh and frisky after taking last season off to rehab his repaired left knee. “The plan is to kick ass,” declared the five-time Olympic medalist, who won one of each color in Vancouver.
They meet againThe American and Canadian women’s ice hockey teams will have at each other Saturday in Burlington, Vt., in what will be the first of as many as eight pre-Olympic tuneups. The Yanks, who are the reigning world champs, and the Canadians, who won gold in Vancouver, also will meet in Boisbriand, Quebec (Oct. 17), Calgary (Dec. 12), Grand Forks, N.D. (Dec. 20), St. Paul (Dec. 28), and Toronto (Dec. 30) as well as in the prelims of the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid (Nov. 6) and probably in the final (Nov. 9) . . . Half of the US men’s ice hockey team that won silver in Vancouver will be on the 25-man roster for Sochi, reckons GM David Poile. The other half, he says, will be those who are playing the best at year’s end, particularly the three goaltenders. “They kind of control their own destiny,” said PoileThe squad will be named at the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor, Mich., as will the women’s team.
Evan Lysacek didn’t just suffer an abdominal tear when he took a “violent” fall on a quadruple jump in August. The Olympic figure skating champion also tore the labrum in his left hip, which could doom his bid to become the first man to repeat since Dick Button in 1952. “It’s extremely unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the world,” said Lysacek, who hasn’t competed since he won gold in Vancouver and had to withdraw from Skate America. While Lysacek’s gold medal gets him a free pass to January’s national championships at TD Garden, he’ll have to earn enough international points to qualify for the Games. Meanwhile, former champions Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt, who didn’t participate in last season’s event because of injury, will have to compete in the upcoming regionals in order to earn their tickets to Boston. Single-session tickets for the nationals, which range from $35-$150 for the senior championship events, are available online at www.boston2014.com, by calling Ticketmaster (1-800-745-3000), or at the TD Garden box office.
Back on her feet
Seven weeks after she blew out her right knee on a practice jump in Germany, Sarah Hendrickson is hoping that she’ll be jumping again by mid-January and will be able to get the Olympic spot that would have been all but automatic had she not been injured. “It was pretty devastating, I won’t sugarcoat it,” acknowledged the 19-year-old world champion, who tore both her ACL and MCL and damaged her meniscus after injuring her left knee in 2012. “You can only be sad for so long and then you have to pick yourself up and work back and fight against the odds.” . . . The US men’s short-track speedskating team, which was rent asunder last season by the controversy that ultimately cost coaches Jae Su Chun and Jun Hyung Yeo their jobs, sent a calling card in the World Cup opener in Shanghai, winning the relay and getting bronzes from Eddy Alvarez and Jordan Malone. “I’m glad that we showed up and came to play,” said J.R. Celski, whose mates picked up a relay silver last weekend in Seoul. “For sure I don’t think people expected us to win the first relay of the first World Cup of the Olympic season.’’
Jabbing at each other
USA Boxing is furious at Mike Tyson for trying to lure some of its most promising prospects for 2016 and signing top medal hope Erickson Lubin to a pro contract. “You are offering these athletes pennies on the dollar of what they could be worth with an Olympic medal, or even potentially just being an Olympian,” federation president Dr. Charles Butler wrote in an open letter to the former world champ, accusing him and his Iron Mike Promotions of undermining the next team. Tyson retorted that the US hasn’t had a gold medalist since 2004, which is why would-be Olympians opt for the early payday. “No one has the right to question the path a fighter chooses in pursuit of their American dream,” said Tyson, who failed in his bid to make the 1984 squad, losing to eventual gold medalist Henry Tillman at both the trials and boxoffs.John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.