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Olympics notebook

IOC may banish medalist

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Wire Services / August 21, 2008
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Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine is under investigation for a positive doping test and could be stripped of her silver medal in the Olympic heptathlon and banned for life.

The International Olympic Committee said yesterday it has opened a disciplinary procedure into Blonska, who finished second behind fellow Ukrainian Nataliia Dobrynska last Saturday. The IOC disciplinary commission and executive board are expected to rule on the case today.

If found guilty of doping, Blonska would become a repeat offender and face a lifetime ban from the sport. The 30-year-old Blonska served a doping suspension for the steroid stanozolol between 2003-05.

An athletics official close to the investigation said Blonska's "A" sample in Beijing tested positive for an anabolic steroid. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was ongoing, including testing of the backup "B" sample.

If the second sample proves positive, "she will be suspended for life," Lamine Diack, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said in an interview. "Over and done with."

Blonska is also competing in the long jump and was third in qualifying ahead of tomorrow's final. The third-place finisher in the heptathlon was American Hyleas Fountain, who would be bumped up to the silver if Blonska is disqualified. Russia's Tatiana Chernova would move up from fourth to the bronze.

Four athletes have been disqualified and kicked out of the Games so far for positive drug tests - Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno, and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do.

Earlier yesterday, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said a total of 4,133 tests had been conducted so far, including more than 3,290 urine controls and 840 blood screenings. By the end of the Games Sunday, the IOC will have carried out between 4,500 to 5,000 doping tests in Beijing, up from 3,600 in Athens four years ago.

"We feel the deterrent effect plays a part in what we see here," said Davies. "The athletes know the IOC means business."

Call-up for MLB?

Major leaguers might be headed to the Olympics in eight years if the sport gets back on the program and international baseball organizers have their way. International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller and his staff are in full campaign mode to make a comeback and get their sport in the 2016 Olympics after it was voted out for the 2012 London Games.

One of the key issues is the level of competition in baseball and making sure the best players in the world are involved. A possible solution that Schiller is discussing with Major League Baseball's brass and the players' association is the idea of having big leaguers participate after the preliminaries and only for the medal rounds. That way it would cause only about a three- to four-day disruption during the 162-game major league season.

"We feel confident there will be some participation," Schiller said.

Wenger will return

US water polo player Lauren Wenger will be back in the pool for tomorrow's gold medal match against the Netherlands. Doctors feared Wenger, one of the Americans' top outside shooters, suffered a broken right hand in the semifinals, but X-rays revealed no broken bones and Wenger was cleared to play . . . US freestyle wrestler Daniel Cormier became dehydrated after making weight and withdrew from the 96-kg competition. Cormier felt ill shortly after weighing in and was treated by the USOC medical staff at the Athletes' Village. He was then taken to a local hospital, but is no longer having hydration problems. Because Cormier, who finished fourth in Athens in 2004, had already weighed in, the US could not enter a replacement wrestler.

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