Russia vs. U.S.: a tense race, a strained aftermath

RIO DE JANEIRO The women's 100 meters breaststroke final at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Monday had already crackled with tension in a tight finish but it was nothing compared to what transpired afterwards.American Lilly King held off fast-finishing Russian Yulia Efimova to clinch the title, with fellow American Katie Meili winning bronze. King broke the Olympic record to win.If the race itself was nail-biting, the aftermath was excruciating given King had stoked the flames beforehand, speaking out against the inclusion of Efimova after she successfully appealed a ban imposed for past doping suspensions.After the victory ceremony, the two Americans wrapped themselves together in the Stars and Stripes. Efimova, who had broken down in tears, stood awkwardly to one side.The three were then obliged to attend a joint media conference that was dominated by the issue of doping, especially since King had criticized the Russian for raising her finger in victory after winning her semi-final. "You're shaking your finger 'number one' and you've been caught for drug cheating," she had told reporters on Sunday. "I'm not a fan."With Efimova booed every time she stepped onto the pool deck, the pressure had been on the American to beat the Russian world champion, though the 19-year-old said she felt that any Olympic final was full of tension. "Even just going in to your first Olympic final, any Olympic final for that matter, the pressure is going to be on," she said. "But especially standing up for what I believe is right, I felt that I needed to perform and do better than I had in the past."I do think it is a victory for clean sport and just to show that you can do it while ... competing clean your whole life."Efimova told reporters that she had not slept for the past month as she waited to learn whether she would be allowed to compete in Rio.That question was resolved only last Friday when she won her legal challenge against her exclusion by arguing she had served her suspensions and should not be punished again. At the news conference, she spoke in a trembling voice and struggled to keep her composure as she acknowledged in broken English she had "made mistakes" and complained at the media coverage she had received.She later switched to her native Russian when she was asked about her opponents' failure to congratulate her after the race."I perfectly understand athletes who do this," she said. "But on the other hand I don't understand, because it always used to be that all athletes were above politics."It's really hurtful because now lots of athletes don't understand that, they simply watch the television and believe everything."King, who did not have headphones to hear the translation, rolled her eyes while Efimova was speaking and defended herself for not shaking hands with the Russian."If I had been in Yulia's position I would not have wanted to be congratulated by someone who was not speaking highly of me," King said."So if she was wishing to be congratulated, I apologize. She had a fantastic swim and I always look forward to racing her, but I was really just in the moment celebrating with Katie." (Editing by Greg Stutchbury) Read more

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon) Read more

Ai Weiwei puts himself back in a jail cell in new Spanish show

CUENCA, Spain Artist Ai Weiwei has reproduced scenes of his incarceration for a new art installation, a series of almost life-size dioramas - encased in steel boxes - showing his life in jail.Visitors to the exhibition, in a cathedral in central Spain, have to peer through peep-holes in the stark, gray boxes to see the 3D scenes, which show Ai watched by two uniformed guards as he eats, sleeps, showers and uses the toilet in his tiny cell.Ai, one of China's most high-profile artists and political activists, was jailed for 81 days on charges of tax evasion in 2011. China confiscated his passport, only returning it in July last year.His installation, "S.A.C.R.E.D.", is a highlight of a series of events under the title "The Poetry of Freedom" taking place across Spain to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. The Spanish writer was held as a slave in Algiers for five years in the late 16th century and spent months in jail in Spain later in life for bookkeeping discrepancies, where he is thought to have conceived the idea for his masterpiece "Don Quixote". A quote from that novel, about a middle-aged gentleman obsessed by ideals of chivalry who travels central Spain with his loyal squire Sancho Panza, adorns the wall of the Cuenca exhibition: "Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has ever given man." The exhibition, at the 12th century cathedral in the fortified medieval city of Cuenca, opens on July 26 and runs until Nov. 6. (Reporting by Catherine Bennett; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Robin Pomeroy) Read more

IOC vows 'toughest sanctions' after report finds Moscow ran broad doping scheme

TORONTO With the Rio Olympics less than three weeks away, the IOC on Monday promised "the toughest sanctions available" after a report found Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping tests in many sports ahead of the Sochi winter Games.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not spell out whether it would heed growing calls for Olympic bans already imposed on Russia's track and field athletes and weightlifters to be extended to all its competitors in Rio.However, IOC President Thomas Bach said the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation had revealed "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.The IOC Executive Board is to hold a telephone conference on Tuesday to take its first decisions, which may include provisional measures and sanctions with regard to the Rio Olympics."Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated."WADA itself explicitly urged the IOC to consider banning Russia from the Rio Olympics altogether.Russian President Vladimir Putin, who staked his reputation on the Sochi Games, the costliest in history, said the WADA-backed report was the result of political interference and that the Olympic movement could now split.The report confirmed allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.He told the New York Times two months ago that dozens of Russians had used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with the support not only of national sports authorities but even the domestic intelligence service, the FSB.Monday's report said Russia, a traditional sporting superpower, had been stung into action by its performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where it finished 11th, with only three gold medals."The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games," said the report, unveiled in Toronto. "FAILSAFE STRATEGY"The investigation was led by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, who sat on the independent commission that last year exposed doping and corruption in Russian track and field, leading to its exclusion from international competition.The report said Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh had been advised of every positive test across all sports from 2011 onwards and decided "who would benefit from a cover up and who would not be protected."The State implemented a simple failsafe strategy," it said. "If all the operational precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe mechanism."The State had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered."Among the hundreds of samples that disappeared were 35 from Paralympic athletes. In Sochi itself, where international observers were scrutinizing the drug tests, positive results could not simply be brushed away, so the FSB developed a method of opening urine bottles to allow samples to be swapped undetected.Rodchenkov spoke of a clandestine night-time operation in which staff secretly took samples from the lab via a "mouse hole" cut into a wall, and replaced them with clean samples taken from the same athlete months earlier and sometimes manipulated."CREDIBLE WITNESSES"McLaren said Rodchenkov and all other witnesses interviewed had been deemed credible, and the report said the investigators "confirm the general veracity of the published information concerning the sample swapping that went on at the Sochi Laboratory during the Sochi Games".The investigations showed that caps had been removed from a number of samples, and that they contained unusually high levels of salt, "significantly exceeding the levels produced by the human body". Nagornykh and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was mentioned 21 times in McLaren's 97-page report, were not immediately available for comment.Putin said in a statement that there was "no place for doping in sport", and that the officials named in the report would be suspended.Following the statement, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suspended Deputy Sports Minister Nagornykh.Putin also said the allegations were based on the testimony of only one man, and were an attempt to "make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure, to form a negative image of countries and peoples".Harking back to the tit-for-tat superpower boycotts of the 1980s, he said: "The Olympic movement ... may again be on the verge of a split."In a leaked draft letter intended to be sent to the IOC on Monday, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart called for a ban on all Russian athletes, not only in track and field.Paul Melia, head of the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports, said the letter was backed by various athletes' committees and the anti-doping organizations of the United States, Germany, Japan and New Zealand, among others.However, Russian track and field athletes have appealed against their ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is due to rule by Thursday.If it finds in their favor, there would seem to be little chance of a wider ban on Russian competitors holding up.Bach had indicated last week that he was reluctant to see athletes from one sport punished for the crimes of athletes or officials from another. (Writing by Frank Pingue and Kevin Liffey; Additional reporting by Gene Cherry in the United States and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford) Read more

Masterful Murray delivers again for grateful nation

LONDON Cometh the hour, cometh the man -- Andy Murray proved himself the bastion of British tennis once again as he outclassed Canadian powerhouse Milos Raonic to claim a second Wimbledon title in masterful fashion on Sunday.Three years after a nation held its breath, more in hope than expectation, as Murray took on and defeated ironman Novak Djokovic to end 77 years of pain, the 29-year-old delivered another command performance, winning 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(2).It was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested as a razor-sharp Murray dictated play from start to finish.He committed a miserly 12 unforced errors, blunted the 140mph first serves whizzing his way and even reduced the normally Zen-like Raonic to venting his frustration.The near hysteria of 2013 turned to expectation this time as defending champion Djokovic, Murray's bogeyman who beat him in this year's Australian and French Open finals, lost early.It left the door open for Murray and when sixth seed Raonic knocked out seven-times champion Roger Federer to scupper hopes of a dream finale, many appeared to take for granted that the Scot would be hugging the Challenge Cup again before he walked on Centre Court to contest his 11th grand slam final.Understandably so, seeing as he had started the previous 10, all against Djokovic and Federer, as underdog.That created its own pressure but Murray hid it well in a near-faultless two hours 48 minutes in the Centre Court sunshine as he added a second Wimbledon crown to his 2012 U.S. Open title and gold medal from the London Olympics.He is expected to head to Serbia next week for a Davis Cup quarter-final, having almost single-handedly won the trophy for Britain last year. Then it's on to Rio to defend his Olympic crown.No wonder the player once regarded as a surly teenager with bad hair is now a British sporting icon. DELIRIOUS MURRAYWhen Raonic shoved a backhand into the net to end the contest, a delirious Murray roared to the sky before bursting into tears as his latest achievement sunk in."I feel happier this time. I feel like this was sort of more for myself," Murray, who became a father in February with wife Kim, who watched from the front row of his box, told reporters."The last time it was just pure relief and I didn't really enjoy the moment as much."I'm going to make sure I enjoy this one more."For Raonic, who had been hoping to become Canada's first grand slam singles champion, there were no regrets. He knew he had been beaten by the better player, although there was much in his grand slam final debut to admire."This one is going to sting so I'm going to make sure that as long as these courts are green I'll do everything I can to be back here for another chance," the 25-year-old said on court."Andy has been playing great and he deserves to be winning here for the second time."I was keeping up with him. But when it counted, I wasn't able to get on top."FINAL SHOWDOWN The final was billed as a showdown between one of the world's biggest servers and arguably the best returner.Raonic did blast one down at 147mph, the fastest delivery of the tournament, but the free points he usually enjoys were missing as Murray sent the ball hurtling back time and again.Murray only broke serve once but always seemed in control as the Canadian struggled to apply any sustained pressure.The first chink in Raonic's armor came in the seventh game when Murray went 15-40 ahead. The Scot just missed with one attempted pass but converted his second break point when a powerful forehand forced a Raonic volley error.Murray had break points in the first, seventh and ninth games of the second set as he tightened his grip, but Raonic was cool under pressure and took it to a tiebreak.Upping the ante, Murray found another gear to move two sets clear and within sight of victory.The match was more than two hours old when Raonic finally had two break points at 2-2 in the third set, but Murray saved both to hold -- gesticulating wildly toward his coach Ivan Lendl who sat impassively throughout the match.Raonic held to stay alive at 4-5 and 5-6 but rock solid Murray was relentless, winning the first five points of the day's second tiebreak and wrapping it up without any drama.(This version of the story has been refiled to correct speed of serve to 147mph in para 21) (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris) Read more

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