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Horse

Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Fails Drug Test, Trainer Suspended 

Bob Baffert is the trainer currently suspended from entering any horses at the Churchill Downs racetrack, additionally, the track is debating invalidating his horse, Medina Spirit’s, win at this year’s Kentucky Derby if the horse’s failed post race drug test is upheld. 

Baffert announced that his horse failed the drug test in a statement where he claimed he would be fighting the results “tooth and nail” to disprove their accuracy. 

The track said in a statement released this week that “failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.”

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“Churchill Downs will not tolerate this. Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

The statement continued to read: “To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner.” 

The only horse to ever be disqualified for medication use after winning the Derby is 1968’s Dancer’s Image. According to Baffert’s lawyer Craig Robertson, Baffert was told by his barn that Medina Spirit was found with 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone; which is double the legal threshold for racing horses in the Kentucky Derby. 

This marks one of the most recent and largest horse steroid-use scandals for one of the sports biggest trainers. Baffert claimed that this whole experience feels like the “biggest gut-punch in racing.” 

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Medina Spirit, however, is not the first horse to fail a drug test under Bafferts eye. In fact, this marks the fifth incident this year in which one of Baffert’s horses failed a drug test. He claims no wrongdoing and is adamant that he has no idea how the horse could have tested positive when Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone.

“I don’t feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to show them everything. One thing about it in California, everything is documented every day what the horse gets. This horse was never treated with that. He’s a great horse, he doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race,” said Baffert, adding that he was going to be “transparent” with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Baffert also continued on to discuss how horse racing in general should be doing a better job at preventing doping scandals in the first place.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert. I’m worried about our sport. Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”

The New York Times published in November 2020 that during Bafferts 40 year career as a trainer his horses have failed a total of 29 drug tests.

Sports Team

Olympic Athletes Promised Legal Support If They Protest After IOC Reinforces Ban 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently confirmed their long-standing ban on “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” on the field of play, medal podiums, or official ceremonies. A global union and activist group based in Germany responded by promising legal support to any athlete who makes a political or social justice statement at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. 

Simply raising a fist or taking a knee on the field could lead to immediate punishment from the IOC. The Olympic bodys legal team, however, still hasn’t clarified what kind of punishment an athlete would experience should they defy this rule.

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“The IOC also said that slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ will not be allowed on athlete apparel at Olympic venues, though it approved using the words ‘peace,’ ‘respect,’ ‘solidarity,’ ‘inclusion’ and ‘equality’ on T-shirts. The IOC’s athletes’ commission cited support to uphold Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter from more than two-thirds of about 3,500 replies from consulting athlete groups,” according to reports from ESPN. 

“This is precisely the outcome we expected, the Olympic movement doesn’t understand its own history better than the athletes. Any athlete sanctioned at the Tokyo Olympics will have the full backing of World Players.”

“Should German athletes decide to peacefully stand up for fundamental values such as fighting racism during the Olympic Games, they can rely on the legal support of Athleten Deutschland,” Johannes Herber, the chief executive of the independent group representing German athletes, said in a statement.

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In a statement, another athlete group, Global Athlete, encouraged athletes to “not allow outdated ‘sports rules’ to supersede your basic human rights. These types of surveys only empower the majority when it is the minority that want and need to be heard.” 

The IOC claimed cases would each be judged based on merits, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, on Thursday, released a statement saying it “plans to update our recently released policy over protests in response to the IOC’s decision have not changed. We’re disappointed to see no meaningful or impactful change to Rule 50.Until the IOC changes its approach of feeding the myth of the neutrality of sport or protecting the status quo, the voices of marginalized athletes will continue to be silenced.”

Actors who break Rule 50 will be sanctioned by one to three bodies: the IOC, their sports governing body, and their national Olympic Committee. 

It’s still unclear what the punishment would look like for athletes who choose to protest. After Tommie Smith and John Carlos were recently inducted into the Olympic Hall Of Fame after being banned from the games for protesting on the podium during the 1968 Games, IOC officials claimed they would never ban an athlete to the same extent again.

Kendrick Carmouche Is The First Black Jockey In The Kentucky Derby Since 2013 

Kendrick Carmouche is set to become the first Black jockey to participate in the Kentucky Derby in eight years, however, that’s only part of his story, and he’s ready to tell the rest of it. 

Carmouche grew up the son of a jockey in Louisiana, so he was exposed early on in his life to the culture and lifestyle. He would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and follow his father into the area bush tracks where he would watch and help him practice. 

When he was 16-years-old, back in 2000, he began riding professionally himself. Ever since he’s enjoyed a long 21-year-long career that moved him from Louisiana to Texas to Philadelphia, and now he’s positioned as one of the best jockeys in New York. Back in September 2018, Carmouche suffered a painful leg injury that forced him to endure a lengthy six-month recovery. However, his return to the tracks has given him some of the greatest achievements in his career. 

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In the fall of 2020 he earned the riding title at Aqueduct and his first Grade 1 victory back in December 2020. Now, on May 1st of this year, he will be riding in the Kentucky Derby for the first time. 

“If you don’t dream it, it’s never going to happen. I dreamed it. To be here at this point and how long it took and the hard work that I put in to get to this point, going to the Kentucky Derby, this is icing and everything on the cake.”

When asked about advice that he would give to young jockeys who will be watching him compete in May, Carmouche claimed that “You have to polish yourself. You have to ride smart. You have to do all the correct things and grind it out until that happens. This is where I want to be.”

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Carmouche is the first Black jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby since Kevin Krigger, who finished in 17th back in 2013. Originally, Black jockeys were the majority of competitors in the derby, winning 15 out of the first 28 races in the beginning of the Derby’s history. Now, Carmouche marks one of the very few Black jockeys in the United States, and he says he hopes to inspire many others to follow in his footsteps. 

“I think people just need to open their eyes and realize it doesn’t matter what color you are. You work hard. You’re an honest person. You want the best for you and your family and the team you’re putting together at the track so you can win races. It’s no black or white. It’s just purple or green, whatever you want to call it. We all bleed the same.”

Carmouche said his confident attitude comes from his father, who pushed him to leave home and pursue this career when he was younger. “My parents told me to get the hell out of Louisiana. They told me, ‘Go make yourself your own home.’ People get it twisted. They try to make their home where they’ve been at all their life. You can’t do that. You’ve got to go make your own home with your own family, your own kids.”

Sylvester Carmouche, his father, and several other family members are planning to make it to Louisville on Derby Day to watch Kendrick ride.

Football on grass

Lawyer Of Deshaun Watson’s Accusers Speaks Out Against ‘Hush Money’ Claims 

Tony Buzbee is the lawyer representing the women who accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct. Buzbee recently fired back at the NFL player’s attorney who recently claimed that Ashley Solis, one of the accusers, demanded “hush money” before filing a civil lawsuit against Watson. Buzbee posted an email that he wrote to Scott Gaffield, the General Counsel at the Athletes First agency in California, onto his Instagram to express his distaste in these claims. 

“The latest and ever-changing Watson defense is that our legal team is somehow compromised because we tried to settle or resolve issues with one client before putting all of these women through the current media circus we knew would result, because the alleged perpetrator is a famous quarterback. I can and have confirmed we tried to resolve these issues without a lawsuit. That fact was public knowledge almost three weeks ago. We attempted to settle without fanfare or press,” Buzbee wrote.

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“In fact, I’ve attached the last email we had with the Watson team before we filed the first lawsuit. This email was sent when we represented only one victim, before we represented what is now 23 women, alleging the same thing.”

Buzbee continued on to discuss how “the current back and forth reporting about the ego of the lawyers involved is not appropriate, or helpful. These cases are about those who were subject to the conduct alleged. Please review the video of Ashley Solis today, from the press conference; she had the courage to go in front of national media to tell her story. STRONG!! Now, that’s a hero! That’s who we should be talking about!”

The excerpts above are also taken from an email sent from Buzbee to Gaffield on February 19th, 2021. The first sexual misconduct claim against Watson surfaced on March 16th, nearly one month after. 

“We made a legit demand. You rejected it. We won’t be making another or bid against ourselves. We also won’t be having an extended dialogue about why you think your client did nothing wrong or how you want this to be a ‘learning’ experience for your ‘high-profile athlete,’ as you refer to him. This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find him a lawyer here so you can apprise both you and your client of the landscape here and who you are dealing with. Talk soon.”

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Solis revealed herself as one of the Jane Does making a claim against Watson in a press conference this week, in which she claimed that Watson exposed himself during a massage session back in March 2020. Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, claims he has emails to prove Solis was looking to get money out of Watson. 

Buzbee currently represents nearly two dozen women who have come out against Watson, however, Gaffield responded to the email by claiming that the NFL “doesn’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrong. We believed then – and fully believe now- that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know.”

“As the emails show, we were willing to continue discussions on Deshaun’s behalf to explore ways to prevent a lawsuit and a public spectacle. But Mr. Buzbee informed us that he was unwilling to do so. We expect that this matter will be resolved in court.”

Watson is currently not facing any criminal charges, but Houston police have launched an investigation into the allegations after another complaint was filed this Friday.

Professional Swimmer

Singer Cody Simpson’s Unexpected Bid To Compete In The 2021 Tokyo Olympics 

Cody Simpson is gearing up to compete at next month’s national championships for swimming in his home country of Australia. The singer will be going up against the nation’s top swimmers before June’s Olympic trials. 

The international singer has always been a competitive swimmer, however, his career as a teen pop icon obviously distracted from that fact. Simpson claims that Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe are among his biggest mentors. His 6.9 million Twitter followers and 3.9 million Instagram followers only recently discovered that one of their favorite performers was also a junior Queensland state champion for swimming. 

According to sources close to Simpson, he began competitively swimming again around five months ago, and has been training non stop in the United States with former Australian Olympian Brett Hawke, who also posted daily updates of Simpson’s progress to his Instagram. 

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Simpson went public with his re-entry into the competitive swimming world back in December, when he revealed to fans his 100 meter butterfly time of 54.7 seconds. That time is below the 56.87 second qualifying mark for the Olympic trials and would have been the 11th fastest time if Simpson competed at the 2019 Australian championships. 

“I just qualified for my first Olympic trials. I’d love to share this personal milestone and let you in on my current journey as an athlete that I’ve kept relatively low key until now. Growing up competing, and then inevitably having to cut my career short as 13-year-old Australian champion when I received an opportunity in music that I couldn’t refuse,”  Simpson wrote on Instagram in December.

Simpson continued to discuss how after years of “touring around the world, releasing albums, performing as a leading man on Broadway, publishing a work of poetry, travelling with and speaking at the United Nations on environmental and oceanic matters, I was fuelled by the silent fire in my stomach to return to swimming.”

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Hawke also recently spoke with the media regarding Simpson’s return, claiming that they “kept it under wraps” for a while so he wouldn’t feel any additional pressure from his millions of fans to succeed. 

“We could’ve said something a little bit earlier but we just didn’t have any swim meets because of Covid … when a swim meet popped up on the radar we thought, ‘let’s go down and have a splash and get off the blocks for the first time … ’ and first swim he gets a qualification for the Olympic trials. It kind of took us all by surprise,” Hawke claimed. 

Hawke then went on to discuss how this is just the beginning for Simpson’s swimming career: “Our goal is to be as fast as we can possibly be this year and just keep building on that. He’s looking at this as a four-year plan, he’s committed to four years. He had a conversation with Michael Phelps, and Michael told him, ‘you can’t do anything in under four years, you’ve got to commit to that’ … so he’s looking at from the age of about 23-27 here, and that’s prime for anybody. I think that’s the best chance he’ll have, to try and make an Olympic team four years from now.”

Olympics

Another Tokyo Olympic Official Has Resigned After Making Sexist Comments 

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned this week after he made demeaning remarks about well-known Japanese celebrity Naomi Wanatabe. This is now the second Tokyo Olympic official to resign after making offensive comments directed at women; nearly one month ago the president of the organizing committee was forced to resign after making sexist comments. 

The Tokyo Olympics are currently scheduled to begin in four months from now with the Olympic torch relay set to start next week in northeastern Japan; 10,000 runners are set to move across Japan for the next four months. 

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Last year, Sasaki suggested to staff members that well-known entertainer Naomi Watanabe could perform in the ceremony as an “Olympig,” an obvious play on words to the word “Olympic,” and an offensive remark regarding Sasaki’s inappropriate, and uncalled for, view of the entertainers body. 

Watanabe is a major female fashion icon in Japan, and is one of the most famous celebrities in the country as well. The story regarding Sasaki’s remarks were initially reported in the magazine Bunshun, and eventually it was everywhere. Considering this story broke less than a month after the organizing committee’s president was forced to resign for commenting that women talk too much in meetings, it makes sense that Sasaki would be just as ostracized just as quickly. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike spoke on these comments to the press this week as well:

“Sasaki’s comments are extremely embarrassing. When we are talking about what we deliver from Tokyo, or from Japan, we shouldn’t be sending a negative and hateful message.”

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Sasaki released a statement this week announcing his resignation: “For Ms. Naomi Watanabe, my idea and comments are a big insult. And it is unforgivable. I offer my deepest regrets and apologize from the depth of my heart to her, and those who may have been offended by this. It is truly regrettable, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Current president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, also released a statement this week in a news conference following the resignation. “Sasaki’s replacement would come quickly. I did feel that way but he explained, and his intention was very strong. That is how I felt. For those reasons I decided to accept his resignation. The IOC also received the (magazine) article and they were quite concerned.”

This is yet another hurdle in the multitude of things that the IOC and organizing committee have had to endure when it comes to organizing these Games. Both groups believe that the Games should still go on despite the fact that we are not out of the woods with the Covid-19 pandemic yet, while Japanese citizens have been pushing back. This is officially the most expensive Olympics on record due to the delays and adjustments made within the past year. 

MLB To Test New Experimental Rules In Minor Leagues

Robot umpires and larger bases are just some of the major changes the MLB will be testing out.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Confirms Tokyo Olympics Will Happen This Summer Without Foreign Fans

Japan has officially decided to move forward with the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games without foreign spectators, according to government officials who recently spoke with the Kyodo national news agency. The decision comes after weeks of pressure from Japanese citizens who are worried about the multitude of individuals coming into the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although there are now multiple vaccines being distributed throughout the world, the new variants and lack of consistency regarding vaccine distribution throughout the world tells us that we’re not totally out of the woods yet with this pandemic, so we have to be precautious. Kyodo is the national news source that typically gets its information directly from the government, who reported this week that no spectators would be admitted from abroad to witness the Games this year. 

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Japan overall has handled the Covid-19 pandemic well. The nation in total has registered less than 450,000 cases and 8,000 deaths total; for reference they have a population of about 126 million. Tokyo, where the Olympics will be occurring, accounts for about 37 million people in that population. 

The Japanese public have been voicing their overwhelming opposition to hosting the Games this summer since the end of last year. Many citizens don’t even want them to be postponed again, and instead just want them to be cancelled altogether until the world has truly returned to a sense of normalcy and Covid-19 isn’t even a part of the conversation when it comes to the Olympics. 

About 80% of citizens who were polled stated that they think the Olympics should be rescheduled, moved, or cancelled altogether. The Games were already postponed after last year when the Covid-19 pandemic was first hitting the world. Ever since that initial postponement, Tokyo Olympic officials and the International Olympic Committee have been debating how to pull off the Games this summer, if at all. 

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Tokyo Olympic officials released a 33-page playbook last month that’s full of fuels for behavior for every party involved in the Olympics. This release was to show the public that they’ve prepared adequately to host the event safely. 

The document offered guidelines for behavior for certain groups of people who are going to attend the Olympics, including athletes and their entourages, but it made no mention of foreign fans, specifically.”

There have been no conversations so far regarding vaccine requirements for athletes, fans, and other parties who will be present at the Games. Japan itself has only just started rolling out vaccines to its citizens as well, with reports of the first doses being administered in mid-February. 

For now it’s still unclear what the 2021 Summer Games will look like, and with a few months and hundreds of millions of vaccines left to be distributed throughout the world, the guidelines are surely subject to change. 

Tokyo Olympics

Postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics Will Likely Not Allow Fans From Abroad To Attend 

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto recently hinted at the possibility that no foreign fans would be allowed at the Tokyo Games this year after talking with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other Olympic executives. Hashimoto didn’t directly say that this rule would be enforced, however, it’s likely that in the coming months the announcement will be made official. 

Japanese newspaper Mainichi cited unnamed sources that were apparently “involved in the discussions” in which Olympic organizers claimed that foreign fans would be excluded from the Games this year due to safety concerns and the uncertainty surrounding where the world will be at with the Covid-19 pandemic by this summer. 

“If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said after discussing how the decision on foreign fans will be officially made by the end of the month. She specifically is wanting one by March 25th, when the torch relay is projected to begin. 

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The Olympic Games are currently expected to open on July 23rd, and according to the Mainichi newspaper, “unnamed government officials already know that in the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators.”

80% of residents in Japan have claimed that they want the Games to be postponed again, or fully cancelled this year due to the pandemic and health and safety concerns. Japan has overall controlled the pandemic much better than most countries, however, they still experienced 8,000 deaths. 

The subject of fans was a key part of the five-party talks with Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, according to Hashimoto. 

“We will focus on the essentials. That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.”

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The exclusion of fans is nothing new to the conversation surrounding the Olympics this year. The Japanese public has adamantly opposed the Games overall, claiming that allowing outsiders from dozens of countries to come into a small arena sounds like the last thing anyone should participate in during a global pandemic. 

According to Bach, “the games will involve 11,000 Olympic athletes, and later 4,400 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of coaches, judges, sponsors, media and VIPs. I was encouraged at the number of national Olympic committees that were getting athletes vaccinated.”

It’s important to note that the IOC said it encourages vaccinations but will not require them. The general plan as of right now is to isolate athletes in an Olympic Village located along Tokyo Bay. Once they arrive they will be placed in a bubble until they leave the nation; kind of like the NBA bubble at Disney but at a much larger scale. 

“A decision on venue capacity will be made by the end of April. We need to look at the overall situation before we decide on any percentage rates. We believe we will not be accepted unless the citizens feel confident that sufficient countermeasures are taken. Having fewer fans will be costly. The organizing committee has budgeted income of $800 million from ticket sales. That shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities,” Hashimoto explained. 

Only time will tell if and how the 2021 postponed Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will be possible. 

Tiger Woods Currently Recovering From High-Speed Car Crash 

Tiger Woods is “awake, responsive, and recovering” in the hospital after receiving major surgery following a high-speed rollover car crash near Los Angeles, according to a statement released on his Twitter account.

The golfing legend was driving in Rancho Palos Verdes around 7 a.m. PT when his SUV crossed a median and veered across two lanes of the road before hitting a curb, then a tree, and finally landing on its side in some brush, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. 

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Woods luckily remained conscious and calm as first responders got him out of the car, however, he sustained a serious leg injury. He underwent a lengthy emergency surgery on his lower right leg and ankle at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. 

“The leg fractures were comminuted, meaning the bone was broken into more than two parts, and open, meaning the broken bone was exposed to open air, creating risk of an infection. Orthopedic trauma specialists inserted a rod into his tibia to stabilize both the tibia and fibula bones, stabilized the foot and ankle bones with a combination of screws and pins, and relieved pressure to the muscle and soft-tissue of his leg by surgically releasing the covering of the muscle,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anish Mahajan said in a statement.

Villanueva claimed that it was “nothing short of a miracle” that Woods was alive after witnessing the damage at the crash site. In fact, he told the media that they’ve seen accidents with “far less obvious damage that ended up being fatal crashes.” 

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Woods was hoping to return to golfing within the coming weeks after having his fifth back surgery last month, however, this accident will obviously pose as another setback for the icon. Authorities claim that the 15-time major champion was likely driving his SUV at a high speed before the crash, as there were no signs of skid marks or other indications of braking. 

Villanueva claimed that him and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who responded to the crash initially, have responded to multiple accidents in the area where Woods crashed due to a section of road that moves downhill on a curve. 

“Woods didn’t seem concerned with his injuries at the time, he was calm but potentially in shock. I do think the fact that he was wearing a seat belt and that the vehicle safety features worked as designed by the manufacturer likely resulted in either reducing his injury or saving his life,” Gonzalez claimed. 

To free Woods from his vehicle firefighters had to break the windshield with an ax and use a pry bar to move the seats and metal from around Woods legs to ensure no further damage was done before extracting him from the vehicle. He went to the hospital in serious, yet stable, condition.