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Luge officials rescind penalty against Britcher

KONIGSSEE, Germany (AP) — USA Luge veteran Summer Britcher won’t be sanctioned for comments she made about safety and course conditions at last weekend’s World Cup competition.

The International Luge Federation said Friday it is rescinding plans to penalize Britcher for her comments “and considers the case to be closed.” The decision came after Britcher and USA Luge teammate Chris Mazdzer, the athletes’ spokesman for the FIL, met with luge officials to discuss the matter.

Britcher was one of many athletes to publicly criticize the FIL over the course conditions and the way sliders’ concerns were handled last weekend at a World Cup in Winterberg, Germany. The FIL said at the time it would sanction Britcher for her “unsporting” comments, but never announced what that penalty would be.

No teams from Germany, Austria or the U.S. competed Sunday, the final day of the event marred by athlete protests and racing boycotts over track conditions. Sliders from many nations were concerned about certain track curves having too much ice buildup, which significantly increases the chance of crashing.

The World Cup season ends this weekend in Konigssee.

Atlanta’s Olympic cauldron to be relit for marathon trial

ATLANTA (AP) — The Olympic cauldron used in the 1996 Games in Atlanta was scheduled to be publicly lit for the first time in more than two decades on Saturday.

Georgia State University announced the cauldron will be lit just before noon on Feb. 29, news outlets reported. The flame will remain lit until about 3:30 p.m. as an Olympic marathon trial course weaves through some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods.

Saturday’s race was expected to determine who will represent the United States in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The cauldron was lit by boxing great Muhammad Ali during the opening ceremonies in 1996. It will be reignited Saturday by Georgia State’s athletics director, Charlie Cobb, the school said in a news release.

New Russian athletics

president vows to rebuild

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Athletics Federation elected a state aircraft executive as president on Friday with the goal of getting the national team reinstated in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

Yevgeny Yurchenko, who has little experience in sports management, was the only candidate in the race — three others withdrew from the election this month — and vowed to rebuild Russia’s track and field body.

“We are positive that all of our future work will be dedicated to ensuring this doesn’t happen again, reinstating (the federation’s) status and participating in the Olympic Games,” Yurchenko said.

This month, the federation’s entire board stepped down after a meeting with Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, citing its failure to resolve the country’s long-running difficulties with World Athletics.

The federation — known as RusAF — has been suspended by the world governing body since 2015 because of widespread doping, but the crisis has deepened in recent months.

In November, the federation’s then-president, Dmitry Shlyakhtin, was among seven people charged with obstructing an anti-doping investigation using fake documents. The case led World Athletics to freeze a program allowing top Russians to compete internationally as neutral athletes. That had been a stepping stone to forming a Russia team for the Tokyo Olympics.

The board decided to resign “taking into account that the actions of RusAF had not brought about reinstatement by World Athletics, acting in the interests of clean Russian athletes to ensure their participation in international and Russian competitions, and also with the aim of keeping athletics united,” the federation said in a statement.

The 51-year-old Yurchenko formerly worked as a deputy governor of Russia’s central Voronezh region. He is on the board of directors of a state aircraft construction company, and previously ran Russia’s state telecom conglomerate.

In an interview with the TASS news agency this week, Yurchenko called the 2016 Olympic ban on the country’s athletics “a true tragedy that Russian athletes are still processing,” and said one of his top priorities would be to give the athletes an opportunity to “proudly represent our country in international competitions.”

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