Thursday's Sports in Brief
MONTREAL (AP) The powerhouse track teams from Russia and Kenya are in serious jeopardy of missing this summer's Olympics after the World Anti-Doping Agency delivered stinging rebukes to attempts to clean up drug-addled programs in both countries.
The WADA foundation board suspended Kenya's anti-doping agency after determining a new law passed to combat doping there fell short. Officials also released new numbers out of Russia showing that testing by independent authorities has decreased by more than two-thirds in the past year.
''Disappointing and disturbing information,'' said Beckie Scott, the Canadian gold-medal cross country skier who chairs WADA's athlete committee.
The countries combined for 27 medals in track and field at the London Olympics. Kenya tied Jamaica for the most gold medals, with seven, at last year's world championships. The final call on whether either country's track team will be eligible for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is left to the sport's governing body, the IAAF, which is set to decide about Russia next month.
PARIS (AP) – A shell company in Singapore is increasingly emerging at the heart of what French prosecutors believe was an organized web of corruption in sports, with their suspicions now extending to Tokyo's winning bid for the 2020 Olympics.
In the months immediately before and after the 2013 Olympic vote, 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2 million) is thought to have been transferred in two segments from a bank in Japan to the account in Singapore of a company called Black Tidings, French prosecutors said. The transactions were marked ''Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game Bid.''
Black Tidings is quickly earning a dubious reputation. Its account also was used to transfer funds in the cover-up of a Russian doping case, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation. And the sports marketing consultant identified by WADA as the account holder has been closely tied to the family that ruled track and field for 16 years via the now-disgraced Lamine Diack.
As president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and member of the International Olympic Committee, Diack was one of the most influential men in sports. He is under investigation in France for suspected corruption, barred from leaving the country while the magistrates' probe continues.
MONTREAL (AP) – The former Moscow lab director who revealed Russia's plans to tamper with urine samples to guarantee clean drug tests at the Sochi Olympics is calling on Olympic officials to test the stored samples with his assistance.
Grigory Rodchenkov and the filmmaker he's working with on a documentary sent a letter, obtained by The Associated Press, to the presidents of the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency, urging them to test the samples while the moviemaker films the action.
The Russian scheme, as Rodchenkov told The New York Times, involved taking clean urine from athletes before the Olympics and using soda containers and baby bottles to transport that urine and swap it with dirty samples. It allowed ''Russian athletes who most likely were doping to go undetected in arguably the largest sporting fraud of all time,'' the letter said.
Rodchenkov said that, as the mastermind of the plot, he's the only person who can identify which samples were tampered with, and thus must oversee the testing. He suggests everything be filmed to ''ensure the integrity of the examination in an open and transparent way to the public.''
MEXICO CITY (AP) – FIFA doping testers turned up unannounced to collect samples from Russian soccer team FC Rostov amid suspicions of meldonium use during its surprise pursuit of the league title.
The Rostov starting 11 were tested after they won 3-1 at leader Dynamo Moscow to move within two points of the Russian capital club with two games remaining, FIFA medical chief Jiri Dvorak told The Associated Press.
Rostov only remained in the Russian top flight after a relegation playoff last year and has stunned soccer by being involved in the title race this season. Dvorak said Rostov, which is owned by the regional government in southern Russia, was ''absolutely'' compliant with his doping testing team.
Meldonium was banned beginning Jan. 1 by the World Anti-Doping Agency. There have been more than 170 failed tests in various sports and countries – many in Russia – since the drug was prohibited.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Scott Skiles surprisingly resigned as coach of the Orlando Magic after just one season and team executives insist they never saw it coming.
The Magic were busy trying to play spin control while also trying to make sense of the seemingly sudden decision by Skiles. He left after a sometimes turbulent season that ended on a positive note. The Magic improved by 10 wins under Skiles, finishing 35-47 but again missing the playoffs.
Skiles, a 14-year veteran coach and former Magic player, was not available for comment but did issue a statement earlier in the day.
Magic CEO Alex Martins dismissed the notion that Skiles' decision was the result of clashes with general manager Rob Hennigan or that the coach and GM had philosophical differences when it came to personnel and the direction of the team.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Donnovan Hill, the California teenager whose paralyzing football injury led to increased safety protections for young players after he sued a youth league, has died, a lawyer for his family said.
Hill died Wednesday at an Orange County hospital of complications from surgery related to management of his injury, attorney Robert Carey told The Associated Press. He was 18.
Hill was 13 when he fractured his spine during a 2011 Pop Warner championship game in Laguna Hills, south of Los Angeles. It left him with minimal use of his arms and no independent movement below his chest.
Hill and his mother, Crystal Dixon, claimed in a 2014 lawsuit against the youth league that the teen used a dangerous headfirst tackling technique promoted by his coaches.
On the same day, Pop Warner said it is is eliminating kickoffs in its three youngest football divisions, another safety-focused rules change sure to be noticed and discussed at higher levels of the game.
The ban will begin this fall. Instead of kickoffs, the ball will be placed at the 35-yard line to start each half and following scores in the Tiny Mite (ages 5-7), Mitey Mite (7-9) and Junior Pee Wee (8-10) divisions.