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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sports digest: Oil turns white boats to brown in Rio Olympic sailing venue

Finnish sailor Camilla Cedercreutz, dries out after training in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday. A new pollution problem has surfaced in Guanabara Bay, the venue for sailing in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Sailors complained about an oil slick that turned white boats brown with crews in town practicing for the Olympics, which open in a month. (Steve Wade / Associated Press)

A new pollution problem has surfaced in Guanabara Bay, the venue for sailing in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Sailors complained Monday about an oil slick that turned white boats brown with crews in town practicing for the Olympics, which open in a month.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. It was all over the place,” said Finnish sailor Camilla Cedercreutz. “There was no way you could avoid it.”

It’s yet another in a long list of problems confronting South America’s first games: the Zika virus, rising crime and violence, budget cuts, and slow ticket sales.

The games will also open with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff facing an impeachment trial, and Brazil mired in its deepest recession in decades.

Cedercreutz said the slick filled part of the bay on Sunday, staining her boat from bow to stern.

“This is only our second time in Rio,” said Cedercreutz, who has qualified in the 49erFX class. “We’ve heard it was really bad, You get mad because it shouldn’t be like this anywhere. It shouldn’t be this dirty. But there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Cedercreutz’s sailing partner Noora Ruskola said other sailors told her: “Your boat looks like a toilet.”

Guanabara Bay is severely polluted, filled with bacteria and viruses. However, sailors have less frequently complained about industrial pollution in the giant bay.

Spanish sailor Jordi Xammar, who will compete in the 470 class, said he saw the slick “and tried to avoid it.”

“The boats were completely brown,” he said. “But the worst thing was we saw a lot of dead fish.”

Xammar said this is his fourth time in Rio, and he’s seen the water “improve a bit. It was yellow-green last year.”

Rio organizing committee officials say the venue is safe, although independent studies by The Associated Press show high level of pathogens in waters that Rio is using for sailing, rowing, canoeing and open-water swimming.

World Sailing, the governing body of the sport, said Monday it was “not in a position to comment.”

International court fast-tracks Russian Olympic appeal

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that it will expedite hearings for 68 Russian athletes seeking to overturn their Olympic bans.

CAS said it will issue its decision no later than July 21, about two weeks before the 2016 Summer Games are scheduled to begin in Rio de Janeiro.

The IAAF, which governs track worldwide, banned the entire Russian track team last year after a World Anti-Doping Agency report presented evidence of systemic cheating among athletes, coaches and officials.

The Russian Olympic Committee filed its appeal with CAS after the ban was upheld in June.

Some of the country’s track athletes are pursing another path to Rio, applying for an IAAF exception that allows individuals to compete as “neutrals” if they have aided in the anti-doping effort or can prove they have not used performance-enhancing drugs in the past.

Runner Yulia Stepanova, who was banned for doping but later provided evidence to authorities, was cleared to compete by the IAAF last week.

Russian Olympic road racer Antoshina suspended over doping

The International Cycling Union says Tatyana Antoshina, a road racer in Russia’s national squad ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has been provisionally suspended after failing a drug test.

The UCI says Antoshina tested positive for GHRP-2, a drug which stimulates the body’s production of growth hormone, in a test taken May 31.

Antoshina races for the Astana team and has won multiple Russian national titles in road racing and time trial events, including a national time trial title last month.

Listed on the Russian national team, she was considered the likely reserve for two-time Olympic medalist Olga Zabelinskaya in the road racing events.

Antoshina finished 12th in the time trial and 25th in the road race at the 2012 Olympics.

Finland police hold 6 Cuban volleyball players in rape case

Finnish police have released two members of Cuba’s national men’s volleyball team but are holding six others on suspicion of aggravated rape, an investigator said.

Police will request that a regional court on Tuesday order the six men to be remanded in custody to continue the investigation before any possible charges, said Joni Lansipuro, the Central Finland Police Department officer in charge of the investigation.

“We have made considerable progress in our investigation and have various pieces of evidence and relevant factors that support our suspicions,” Lansipuro said. “We propose (to the court) that they be held in custody.”

The eight men were detained over the weekend in Tampere after local police on Saturday morning received a report that a woman had been raped at a hotel in the city, 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of the capital, Helsinki. The Cuban team was in the city participating in the Volleyball World League tournament in Tampere where they lost 3-1 against Finland without three of their players, who had been detained.

Lansipuro said the Cuban team had been scheduled to leave the country on Monday morning, but it wasn’t immediately clear if they had departed.

The Cuban Volleyball Association acknowledged the arrests in a statement. It said the Finnish investigation was continuing, but added that “early information implicates them in acts that are totally removed from discipline, the sense of honor and respect that govern our sport and society.” The statement did not indicate whether the rest of the team had returned to Cuba.

Police declined to give further information pending the outcome of the investigation, except to say that the alleged victim and suspects were adults.

The international volleyball federation, FIVB, said it’s “very concerned by the alleged serious misconduct” of the Cuban national team and has been in close contact with all parties involved.

“The FIVB has absolute zero tolerance of any offence committed against another person by any players or officials at an FIVB event,” the world body said in a statement to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

The Cuban Volleyball Association acknowledged the arrests in a statement Monday night. It said the Finnish investigation was continuing, but added that “early information implicates them in acts that are totally removed from discipline, the sense of honor and respect that govern our sport and society.”

Ruenroeng wins, 3 Americans lose in Olympic boxing qualifier

Former IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand won his first bout at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Vargas, Venezuela.

U.S. contenders Cam F. Awesome, Paul Kroll and Brandon Lynch lost their opening bouts, failing to earn spots at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.

The 36-year-old Ruenroeng fought at the Beijing Olympics, falling one win shy of a medal. Four years after mounting a successful professional career, he is one of just two moderately prominent pro boxers attempting to take advantage of the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) decision to allow pros to compete in the Olympics by jumping into the final qualifying tournament before Rio.

Ruenroeng won his bout in Venezuela against Germany’s Artur Bril, who fights in an AIBA-backed professional league. Ruenroeng lost his IBF title less than six weeks ago when John Riel Casimero stopped him.

Awesome lost a decision to Ecuadorian heavyweight Julio Cesar Castillo Torres, who also beat him at the previous Olympic qualifying tournament in Azerbaijan last month. Awesome is a four-time U.S. national champion and a two-time Olympic trials champion, but he missed his first Olympic shot four years ago when he failed to complete his drug tests while still fighting under his birth name, Lenroy Thompson.

“Lost my fight today and now my Olympic run is over,” the 27-year-old Awesome said in a post on his Twitter account. “Time to re-re-reinvent myself and see what’s next for me. It may not be boxing.”

Awesome has expressed skepticism about becoming a professional, preferring the Olympic-style version of the sport.

Kroll also lost a 3-0 decision to Germany’s Arajik Marutjan in a welterweight bout, ending the Philadelphia-based fighter’s Olympic hopes.

Lynch lost a decision to Ukraine’s Rostyslav Arkhypenko in their super heavyweight bout.

Six American men and two women have qualified for Rio, but that could be the full extent of the team representing the U.S., the most successful nation in Olympic boxing history.

While Claressa Shields won a gold medal and Marlen Esparza earned a bronze during the debut Olympic women’s boxing tournament in London, the U.S. men won no medals in 2012 and just one bronze medal in 2008. Andre Ward is the last American man to win a gold medal, although the current team has legitimate medal hopes with bantamweight Shakur Stevenson and flyweight Antonio Vargas.

U.S. light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel beat Bulgaria’s Spas Genov in his opening bout in Venezuela, but Esquivel’s path to Rio is now blocked in his next bout by 32-year-old Hassan N’Dam. The French-Cameroonian fighter who briefly held two versions of an interim middleweight title is attempting to earn another trip to the Olympics after losing in the quarterfinals in Athens 12 years ago.

Ruenroeng and N’Dam are the only significantly accomplished pros attempting to win this final qualifying tournament for the Rio Games under the AIBA rule change, which has drawn widespread condemnation from many fighters and coaches.

After drawing initial interest from several pros including Manny Pacquiao and Wladimir Klitschko, AIBA’s gambit apparently has failed to attract any big-name boxers into the field. Most boxing observers believe more prominent pros will fight at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.