Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

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Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. (REUTERS)
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South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay. (AP)
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Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history. (AFP)
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Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 February 2018

Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

SPEED SKATING: Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. The 27-year-old — who was in pain because of an ankle injury — was disqualified in her women’s 1,000 meters heat and had to be carried off the track on. It was a sad end to another disappointing Games for the Scot — a triple world champion. Christie, who was disqualified in all three of her events at Sochi 2014, fell in the 500m final and suffered the same fate in Saturday’s 1500m semifinal. And she said: “I guess you could say (I am cursed). It’s a bit weird that it seems to happen at Olympics and nowhere else. I’m not someone who commonly gets penalties and stuff, so it just seems mental. It’s just six races of my life that have gone completely wrong.”
Meanwhile, South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay, defending the title they won in Sochi. It was a typically wild race for the gold with several crashes and near wipeouts before South Korea grabbed control with two laps left. They muscled their way to the front, triggering a mighty roar from the near-capacity crowd, before holding on for victory to maintain their domination of the event. Canada won the first relay gold at the 1992 Albertville Olympics but South Korea have taken ownership since, topping the podium in six of the next seven Games with only China interrupting that run with victory in 2010. Italy took the silver while China and Canada were disqualified in the final to hand the bronze medal to the Netherlands who set a world record to win the B Final.

BIATHLON: Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history by anchoring his team to victory in the biathlon mixed relay. The 29-year-old became the first athlete to win three gold medals in Pyeongchang, lifting his career tally to five Olympic golds. That is the most of any French athlete in Summer or Winter Olympics. Fourcade erased a 38-second deficit on the last leg of the relay by hitting all 10 shots to secure the French team to the come-from-behind win. Fourcade had enough of a lead to wave the French flag as he crossed the finish line for his team in one hour, eight minutes and 34.3 seconds, more than 20 seconds ahead of second place Norway.

CURLING: Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky could not have taken a banned drug deliberately, Russia’s sports minister said after anti-doping authorities confirmed a violation that has rocked the Pyeongchang Games. Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, and is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in the near future after he tested positive for a banned substance, meldonium. “It’s obvious that in this particular case, the athlete could not have intentionally used a prohibited substance, it just does not make any sense,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said. “Curling, in theory, in not the kind of sport in which dishonest athletes dope,” he added. The Russian Olympic delegation said on Tuesday it could not explain how meldonium, which can aid endurance, ended up in Krushelnitsky’s body and that it was launching an investigation.


Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

Updated 18 February 2020

Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

  • Headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire ensured the win

LONDON: Manchester United threw open the race for the final Champions League qualification spots in the Premier League by beating fourth-place Chelsea 2-0 thanks to headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on Monday.
With 12 games remaining, seven points separate Chelsea and 11th-place Burnley, with the team finishing fifth also set to earn a place in next season’s Champions League following UEFA’s decision to punish Man City for serious breaches of financial regulations by handing the English champions a two-year European ban.
Martial glanced in a header off a right-wing cross by Aaron Wan-Bissaka to give United the lead in the 45th minute at Stamford Bridge, before Maguire planted home a corner from January signing Bruno Fernandes in the 66th.
Maguire, United’s captain, was perhaps fortunate to still be on the field, with the match officials opting not to punish the England defender for appearing to kick out at Michy Batshuayi after tumbling off the playing surface in front of the dugouts.
“I know I caught him but I felt like he was going to fall on me and the natural reaction was to straighten my leg so that if he was to fall on me, to hold him up,” Maguire said. “It probably looks worse than it was.
“I did catch him ... but I knew at the time I had no intent to hurt him or kick him.”
Chelsea was on the wrong end of two other decisions by VAR, firstly disallowing a volleyed goal by Kurt Zouma in the 56th because of a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on United left back Brandon Williams. Azpilicueta seemed to have been pushed a split-second earlier by Fred.
Then, with 13 minutes to go, substitute Olivier Giroud had a goal ruled out by VAR for a tight offside, leaving Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looking thoroughly glum as he sat in his technical area.
Chelsea has long been in fourth place, but has only won three of its last 11 games in the league to give a slew of rivals clubs hope of catching up.
One of them is United, which climbed to seventh place with this win — three points behind Chelsea and two adrift of fifth-place Tottenham.
“This season, we have been far too inconsistent,” Maguire said. “We have won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool, but we have let ourselves down against the teams where the pressure is on to break them down.”
Injury problems are starting to bite at Chelsea, too. Top scorer Tammy Abraham and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi missed the game because of injury, while central midfielder N’Golo Kante lasted 11 minutes before hobbling off. Center back Andreas Christensen didn’t come out for the second half after sustaining a knock to the head late in the first period, just before Martial beat the Denmark defender to a header for the first goal.
Lampard’s main gripe, though, was his team’s failure to finish off chances once again. Batshuayi was the biggest culprit, spurning two great chances in the first half in his first start in the league this season.
“We are fourth because of some of the good stuff we’ve done and because of the nature of the league, everyone taking points off each other,” Lampard said. “But there’s a lot of work to do because you can see the problem — that’s putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I feel like a broken record. We have to put things to bed by scoring goals.”
Chelsea hosts Tottenham on Saturday and would finally get overtaken with another loss.
“The season starts here,” Lampard said.
Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, who signed for United on deadline day in the January transfer window, came on in second-half stoppage time for his debut and had a late chance saved by Willy Caballero, who again started in goal ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Two players struck the post from free kicks in the second half, Fernandes for United and Mason Mount for Chelsea.