Raisman, Wozniacki join fight against sexual assault

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18

Caroline Wozniacki and Aly Raisman teamed up with SB Nation and a handful of other professional athletes for a public service announcement called “It’s On Us.” Released on Monday, the spot urges viewers to help do their part to stop sexual assault. It’s the latest in a string of clips for the campaign, which has been publicly backed by President Barack Obama, and joins other entities like the SEC, the Oregon athletic department and the U.S. Military Academy that have also produced videos.

Now let’s just hope all these influential people and institutions can actually help get this crucial message across.

See something entertaining on social media that you think deserves to be shared? Let me know on Twitter, @darcymaine_espn.

Runners face 'hazardous' conditions in Beijing

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
Beijing MarathonThe Yomiuri Shimbun/AP ImagesSome of the estimated 30,000 participants at the Beijing International Marathon weekend donned masks during the race.

Runners competed in this past weekend's Beijing Marathon despite "hazardous" conditions, according to multiple reports.

Runner's World reported that an estimated 30,000 people were expected to participate in Sunday's half marathon and marathon events, but some of the runners dropped out early or wore masks during the race.

One of those runners who dropped out mid-race was Chas Pope. He posted before and after pictures of his mask vis Twitter:

For more details around the Beijing race conditions, check out Competitor.com.

Beijing International MarathonReutersThe United States embassy in Beijing described the city conditions on its website as "hazardous."

Pistorius sentencing expected Tuesday

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
Oscar PistoriusThemba Hadebe/AFP/Getty ImagesOscar Pistorius faces up to 15 years in prison after he was found guilty of culpable homicide.

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius will finally learn his fate Tuesday when a judge is expected to announce the Olympic runner's sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius could be sentenced to years in prison, or he could be given a suspended sentence and a fine and receive no jail time for shooting Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

More than seven months after Pistorius' trial started, Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce what punishment she has decided on after finding him guilty of culpable homicide, which is comparable to manslaughter, but acquitting him of murder.

Prosecutors have demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete. His defense lawyers have suggested that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate.

Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he shot four times through the door with his 9 mm pistol. Judge Masipa last month ruled that Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp, but he acted negligently and with excessive force in the Valentine's Day 2013 killing.

He was also convicted of unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant weeks before Steenkamp's death. That normally carries a fine for a first offense, but has a maximum of five years in prison.

Masipa has a wide range of options available to her at the climax of the trial because there is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide.

(Read full post)

Who wants to host the 2024 Summer Games? Anyone?

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
Marty WalshAP Photo/Steven SenneBoston Mayor Marty Walsh was part of a recent event held to generate interest in a 2024 Olympics bid for the city. The USOC is weighing whether to put in a bid.
LONDON -- Rejected time and again for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC will soon be seeking suitors for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

It will be hoping to attract a competitive, high-profile field to show there are cities that want to host the games rather than shun them.

Even before Oslo became the fourth city to drop out of the race for the 2022 Games, the International Olympic Committee had started reviewing its bidding system to make it more appealing and less expensive for future host cities.

Making the process more flexible -- allowing cities to tailor a bid to their own needs from the start rather than adhere to strict IOC requirements -- is central to IOC President Thomas Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform package.

Recommendations are being finalized this week at an IOC executive board meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.

Potential bidders for 2024 are waiting to see exactly what changes are being made. The new rules will be put to a vote at a special IOC assembly in Monaco from Dec. 8-9.

Bids will need to be submitted next year. The host city will be chosen in 2017. A look at some potential 2024 candidates:

(Read full post)

ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson discusses the testimony of a psychologist who called Oscar Pistorius a "broken man" as the Olympic runner's sentencing hearing began Monday:

After winning her first World Cup race in December of 2012, American skiing sensation Mikaela Shiffrin met 11-year old Emma Lundell of Sweden, a young fan who was battling leukemia. The two posed for a picture together and Shiffrin wrote about the experience on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Now, almost two years later, Lundell is finished with her chemotherapy treatments. With some help from Swedish site SPORT-Expressen, Lundell made a video message for Shiffrin, updating her on her health. Shiffrin’s reaction is priceless.

Is it just me or does everything suddenly feel right in this world?

Read more on Shiffrin and other top female athletes at espnW.com.

Growing issues with Tokyo stadium plans?

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
Tokyo AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

TOKYO -- A new round of bidding for the demolition of Tokyo's old Olympic stadium to make way for a new main stadium for the 2020 Games will delay the start of the problematic project.

Some of the bids were reviewed by someone in the decision committee before all bids were in, a violation of the rules, Japan Sport Council official Takayuki Ito said on Tuesday.

Another round of bidding is due this month. But he said work will be fast-tracked, and the stadium will meet its March 2019 deadline.

"We need to revamp the whole system of planning for the Olympic stadium," he said, acknowledging there were too many problems.

Ito declined to say who broke the rules, but suggested it was an error and not a malicious act.

Plans for the stadium, designed by award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, have been plagued by problems, including complaints from some prominent architects, who say the design is too big and expensive.

(Read full post)

The importance of World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9

U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight explains the importance of World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend, an International Ice Hockey Federation initiative to further expand the sport for women:


Sochi organizer takes job with billionaire group

October, 9, 2014
Oct 9
MOSCOW -- The chief organizer of the Winter Olympics in Sochi has taken a job managing the assets of a pro-Kremlin billionaire.

Dmitry Chernyshenko has been named as the new head of Volga Group, a holding company which owns large stakes in some of Russia's largest oil, gas and construction companies and is under U.S. sanctions.

The company is owned by Gennady Timchenko, who was placed on the U.S. government sanctions list following Russia's annexation of Crimea in February as a member of what the U.S. called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle."

Volga Group owns the majority of Stroytransgaz, a major construction firm building stadiums and facilities for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Chernyshenko led Sochi's winning bid for the Olympics and headed the local organizing committee for this past February's Games.

Worlds taught me what it takes to win

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
Nnemkadi OgwumikeNed Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesFor Nneka Ogwumike, the shared experiences during the world championships meant at least as much as a gold medal.

From day one, we all invested so much to make the best of this world championship journey, and there are no rewards like those of the memories we share.

Having this gold medal is symbolic of the hard work we put in as a team -- as a family -- to maintain the USA's championship culture. The scores might suggest it was a walk in the park for us, but it was from it.

And once we gathered as a team to accept the gold medal, nothing else seemed to matter. As the confetti fell and the anthem rang out, I realized that I'd learned what really drives the winning edge: camaraderie, leadership and selflessness.

These experiences we shared with one another, the staff, our families and our supporters are a true representation of red, white, blue, and gold!

Watch: Lindsey Vonn shares latest training run

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
Lindsey Vonn showed her progress (literally) on Tuesday, posting the video below on her Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Vonn officially returned to the slopes earlier this month while training in Soelden, Austria. The Olympic skier has not competed since suffering a knee injury in December 2013, forcing her to withdraw from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Vonn told The New York Times that she expects to return to competition in early December.


Yeeeeeah!!! Having SO much fun skiing :) #happy #lovemyjob #UAcomeback good @gopro work by my coach too

View on Instagram

Photos/Video: Hilary Knight's day with the Ducks

October, 3, 2014
Oct 3
The one thing two-time U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight said she couldn't stop doing during her practice Friday with the Anaheim Ducks? Smiling.

"I was just trying to pick their brains," Knight said. "I was like a sponge out there: 'OK, what can I learn?' Watching Ryan Kesler, how does he shoot? Getzlaf was teaching me things about the sticks. All of them were really friendly, and I'm just so fortunate to have this opportunity. I was like, 'OK, don't smile too much."

The feeling looked mutual for the NHLers and fans, alike. Here are photos and video from Knight's day in Anaheim (all courtesy of the Ducks):

Hilary Knight with teamCourtesy Anaheim DucksKnight laces up with Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg, left, and defenseman Bryan Allen, right, before Friday's practice.
Hilary Knight with Ryan GetzlafCourtesy Anaheim DucksKnight said she picked the brains of many Ducks stars, including Ryan Getzlaf, left. Said Knight: "I was like a sponge out there. ... All of them were really friendly, and I'm just so fortunate to have this opportunity."
Hilary Knight Courtesy of Anaheim DucksKnight spoke to younger skaters who also took part in the program. We love one fan's reaction in particular (look to the right)!
Hilary KnightCourtesy of Anaheim DucksAnaheim coach Bruce Boudreau on Knight's visit: "I'd be pretty nervous if I walked into an NHL room and had to practice with them, and I thought she handled it really well."

Reaction from Knight, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and fellow U.S. Olympian Ryan Kesler:

HILARY KNIGHT DUCKS 100314 from Anaheim Ducks Entertainment on Vimeo.

Hilary Knight practices with Anaheim Ducks

October, 3, 2014
Oct 3
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Hilary Knight was invited to practice with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks on Friday, as part of "World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend," an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) initiative to further expand the sport for women.

Anaheim's press release said Knight "is believed to be the first female skater [non-goalie] to practice with an NHL team." (Four-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser did receive two invites to Philadelphia Flyers' training camp in 1998 and 1999.)

More from espnW.com: Hilary Knight buzz »

Knight met with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and fellow U.S. Olympians Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler before taking part in the team's practice, which included a little shootout duel:

Here is more from Knight's day on the NHL ice:

Did WADA make right call on NRL bans?

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
Paul Gallen Renee McKay/Getty ImagesCronulla captain Paul Gallen and 11 current or former Sharks teammates received 12-month bans.
SYDNEY -- The World Anti-Doping Agency will not appeal sanctions imposed on Cronulla players for breaches of the National Rugby League's anti-doping rules, but has raised concerns about the handling of the matter.

WADA released a statement Wednesday saying it had reviewed the cases and would not challenge the leniency of sentences imposed on Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and 11 current or former Sharks teammates, despite raising concerns about being "not entirely satisfied with the outcome of this case."

• More: Read WADA's full ruling »

• More: Complete rugby coverage from ESPN Scrum »

The players last month accepted backdated 12-month bans -- effectively ruling them out of the game for three months, and mostly during the NRL off-season -- after claiming they "unwittingly" used performance-enhancing substances under the club's supplements program in 2011.

WADA said the backdating of the sanctions, which reduced the practical period of the suspensions, were "not attributable to any action or lack of action on the part of the players."

It said the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency had done nothing to advance the case "for many months" after the completion of its investigation in November 2013 and there was a further delay until a government-appointed retired judge reviewed the ASADA files.

"There is no explanation for the continued inaction from ASADA following the receipt of the [judge's] report in April, 2014 until steps were formally taken by ASADA in August, 2014," the statement said. "It is this last aspect of the sanctioning process that required close review. Full scrutiny of the file revealed that the number of delays were directly the result of the lack of activity or decision by either ASADA or the Australian government."

The seemingly light suspensions were widely criticized by athletes in Olympic sports, but after reviewing all the circumstances, WADA, which had the option of taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, said "an appeal would not advance the fight against doping in any meaningful way."

The banned substances were also given to players at Australian Football League club Essendon, at the suggestion of a sports scientist hired by both clubs. Both Essendon and Cronulla players have denied they knew the supplements were in violation of WADA's rules, but the AFL and NRL have already suspended some officials and coaches from both teams.

The NRL subsequently announced measures to register and regulate any staff or club officials who are regularly involved with players to avoid a repeat of the supplements saga.
ESPN's Lester Munson discusses what happens next in the legal process for swimmer Michael Phelps, who was arrested Tuesday on a DUI charge.