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These Olympics seem to be a bit snakebit, and they haven’t even started yet

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The Olympics are not that far away. Yet, we're not even sure which athletes will be there, whether the facilities will be done or, now, even if one of the major players on the international scene, Russia, will be allowed to compete. Read on.

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• Brazil's economic woes and political turmoil grabbed the headlines early. Then came the stories about the polluted waters. That was quickly followed by concerns over the Zika virus, which leads to birth defects. None of those problems have been completely ironed out yet, even as the Rio Olympics are within weeks of beginning. But today we may find out the fate of one of the largest countries in the world. If the World Anti-Doping Agency has its way, no Russian athletes will compete in Rio. The organization released a report yesterday that was damning in every way. You read the particulars and you can't help but side with WADA. The powers that be in Russian sports decided to circumvent the doping rules and they did it by faking passing tests. Or changing failing tests with passing ones. All the time. During important events, including the last Winter Olympics. The Russian track and field program has already been kicked out. Now WADA wants the International Olympic Committee to exclude every other Russian federation from the games. Will it do it? I doubt it. The IOC and backbone has never come together. Vladimir Putin is making it a political football, basically saying the Russian federations can clean up their mess and if the IOC decides on a ban, it's only because everyone is afraid the Russians will win. Or because everyone hates Russia. Or because the U.S. is corrupt. I'm not sure which. But the guys he appointed to oversee the testing program? They aren't at fault. Ah well, these Olympics have seemed snakebit since they were awarded. What can go wrong has gone wrong. By the time they are done, Zika will probably be spread all over the globe, a bunch of sailors will have gotten sick thanks to fecal matter in the water and the Russians will have won a lot of medals. Unless, of course, they are bitten by a golden lancehead viper.

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• WSU: Though this news won't affect the Spokane or Pullman area much, the Pac-12 Networks did earn a win recently.

• EWU: As per expectations, and by unanimous acclaim, Cooper Kupp is the Big Sky Conference preseason offensive player of the year. ... The Big Sky pulls just enough upsets against big schools to justify the continuation of those matches.

• Indians: Spokane crawled within a game of the .500 mark last night with a 9-3 win over Vancouver. That kept them in the thick of the North Division first-half race. Josh Horton has the game story and a blog post that shares the news Michael Matuella is rehabbing his right elbow sprain, though he won't return to Spokane this season. ... Eugene won and is one victory away from clinching the first half South race. ... Everett topped Tri-City as well and leads the North.

• Preps: There will be an NCAA-sanctioned girls basketball tournament this week in Spokane. Greg Lee has all the details in his youth sports notebook.

• Mariners: The M's were down 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth last night. They hadn't sniffed a run against Chris Sale, one of the toughest lefties in baseball. But Chicago went to the pen for the last three outs and only got two of them. Adam Lind hit a three-run home run and Seattle scored an improbable 4-3 comeback victory. The M's have hit five walk-off home runs this year and none have been by Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz or Kyle Seager. ... Junior didn't spend a lot of time in the minors, but the time he had was well spent. ... The schedule eases ups some soon, so what will the M's do with their starting pitchers?

• Seahawks: Jimmy Graham is a beast. The question is: Will he be a beast for Seattle? And how about Thomas Rawls? Is he as good as he looked?

• Sounders: What the heck is going on with Real Salt Lake?

• NBA: It's been 10 years since the Sonics were sold and subsequently moved to Oklahoma City. But to get the NBA back, Seattle probably has to court the NHL first.

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• It will be well above 100 degrees where I am today. How is it in Eastern Washington and North Idaho? Toasty? Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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