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Final torchbearer's ID? Watch for it

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VANCOUVER -- Wayne Gretzky will not be the final torchbearer at tonight's opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, organizers said Thursday.

Vancouver Organizing Committee CEO John Furlong said that speculation that the hockey great and former Olympian would light the Games cauldron is wrong.

Furlong said spectators will find out the final torchbearer's identity tonight.

"You can think about this as long as you'd like and you can think about the last moments of the ceremonies as long as you'd like and you're not going to figure it out," he said.

 

30 tossed out for doping

VANCOUVER -- More than 30 athletes have been dropped from Winter Olympics teams from around the world because of doping violations, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday.

The agency would not reveal a precise number or name the athletes involved, nor would its officials say which sports the ejected athletes compete in or which countries they represent.

But no Canadian athletes were disqualified for doping, Canadian Olympic Committee president Michael Chambers told the media Thursday.

Executives of the Montreal-based anti-doping agency insisted WADA does not comment on doping cases until the often lengthy process of appeals has been exhausted. Names of sanctioned athletes sometimes do become known before that happens, but WADA executive director David Howman said individual sports federations should be asked for that information.

Last week, it was announced Russia was holding back one of its cross-country skiing stars, Alena Sidko, because she tested positive for a blood doping product. Cross-country skiing and biathlon are the winter sports with the worst track records for doping infractions.

WADA officials said there is no way to guarantee a doping-free Olympics, but insisted efforts to prevent cheaters from competing are more intensive leading up to these Games than they have been in the past.

 

Germans deny magnet use

WHISTLER, B.C. -- The German skeleton team has denied using any illegal magnetic components in their sleds, a claim that Canadian skeleton athlete Jeff Pain made Wednesday.

"The German skeleton sleds are the most controlled sleds," Margit Dengler, press officer for the German skeleton team, is quoted as saying by the Olympic News Services. "They ran through the whole (World Cup) season with no problem.

"I have never heard anything about magnets," she said. "The sleds on the World Cup podiums are all checked by the materials committee of the FIBT (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation)."

Pain, a 2006 Olympic silver medallist from Calgary, told the media Wednesday he knew the Germans were using magnetic components, but wasn't sure how they helped the sled move faster. He called for the FIBT to look into the situation.

 

Vonn happy with test run

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Aided by painkillers and numbing cream, Lindsey Vonn tested her badly bruised right shin Thursday by skiing for the first time since getting injured last week and came away encouraged about her Olympic prospects.

The opening women's Olympic downhill training session was called off after only two racers because of thick fog, but Vonn did get in a free run on the mountain, though not on the official course.

"My shin was still very painful, but I feel like the injury is finally progressing a bit," the dominant U.S. skier said.

The men managed to squeeze in a full training run for Saturday's marquee downhill.

Austrian veteran Michael Walchhofer posted the fastest training run time of one minute, 34.46 seconds and was followed by Robbie Dixon of North Vancouver in 1:34.55 and Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant, Que., in 1:34.68.

Swiss veteran Didier Cuche was disqualified for missing a gate.

 

-- From the news services

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2010 C6

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