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Germany's Bach named boss of powerful IOC

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Within minutes of being elected to the top job in the Olympics, Thomas Bach got a phone call from a powerful leader he'll work with closely in the next few months: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bach, a 59-year-old German lawyer, was elected Tuesday as president of the International Olympic Committee. He succeeds Jacques Rogge, who stepped down after 12 years.

Bach, the longtime favourite, defeated five other candidates in the secret ballot for the most influential job in international sports, keeping the presidency in European hands.

The former Olympic fencer received 49 votes in the second round to secure a winning majority. Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico finished second with 29 votes. One of the first congratulatory phone calls came from Putin, who will host the IOC in less than five months at the Winter Olympics in the southern Russian resort of Sochi.

The Sochi Games are one of Putin's pet projects, with Russia's prestige on the line.

"He congratulated and (said) there would be close co-operation to make the success of Sochi Games sure,' Bach told The Associated Press.

The buildup to the Feb. 7-23 games, however, has been overshadowed by concerns with cost overruns, human rights, a budget topping $50 billion, security threats and a Western backlash against a Russian law against gay "propaganda."

Bach and the IOC have been told by the Russians there would be no discrimination against anyone in Sochi, and that Russia would abide by the Olympic Charter.

"We have the assurances of the highest authorities in Russia that we trust," Bach said.

It remains unclear what would happen if athletes or spectators demonstrate against the anti-gay law. Rogge said this week that the IOC would soon send a reminder to athletes that, under the Olympic Charter, they are prohibited from making any political gestures.

Jays have date at Big O

MONTREAL -- The Toronto Blue Jays will play a pair of pre-season games next spring at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

The Jays will host the New York Mets on March 28-29 in the first Major League Baseball games to be played at the stadium in 10 years.

On Sept. 29, 2004, the Montreal Expos dropped a 9-1 decision to the Florida Marlins in the final home game of their 36-year history.

The Expos were owned and operated by MLB from 2002-2004 and the team was sold and relocated to Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season.

The Blue Jays will open their regular season at Tampa Bay on March 31.

Toronto's home opener is set for April 4 against the New York Yankees.

Canada whips Russia

SOCHI, Russia -- Veteran forward Hayley Wickenheiser had a goal and two assists to lead Canada to a 9-1 rout of Russia in a women's hockey exhibition game Tuesday at Shayba Arena.

Wickenheiser opened the scoring just 34 seconds into the game. Jennifer Wakefield scored twice and Lauriane Rougeau, Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Marie-Philip Poulin, Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus and Jenelle Kohanchuk added singles.

Canada defeated the host side 6-1 in the opener of the two-game series on Sunday. The series gave the Canadian team an opportunity to get accustomed to the Olympic venue and surrounding area.

"The main goal here was familiarization with the rink, the venues, the Olympic Park and just the city in general," said Canadian head coach Dan Church.

Yekaterina Smolentseva had the lone goal for Russia.

The Sochi Games will begin Feb. 7. Canada won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

De La Hoya heads to rehab

OSCAR DE LA HOYA has admitted himself to a treatment facility as he continues to fight his substance abuse.

The former boxer issued a statement Tuesday saying he voluntarily admitted himself to an unnamed facility. The move comes on the eve of the biggest fight of the year for his promotion company Saturday night when Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes on Canelo Alvarez.

"I will not be at the fight this Saturday to cheer Canelo to victory since I have voluntarily admitted myself into a treatment facility," De La Hoya said in his statement. "I explained this to Canelo and he understood that my health and long term recovery from my disease must come first."

De La Hoya first admitted two years ago that he was an alcoholic and drug user and had been in treatment. He told the Los Angeles Times last month that he sometimes attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings six days a week, but had slipped at times in his treatment.

"The fight life, that was easy," he told the paper. "This is a battle I have every day."

De La Hoya is a partner in Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez and is promoting the fight against Mayweather. He appeared several times on Showtime's "All Access" show cheering on Alvarez in what is expected to be one of the richest fights in boxing history.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 D6

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