TIME olympics

Olympic Swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen Severs Spine in ATV Accident

Denver Broncos side line reporter for 850 KOA Amy Van Dyken. Reporting on the Broncos vs the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at Invesco Field. Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Amy Van Dyken reporting on the Broncos vs the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at Invesco Field. Andy Cross--Denver Post via Getty Images

The six-time Olympic champ was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Friday and was airlifted to a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken Rouen was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Arizona on Friday that severed her spine.

The champion swimmer was airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center after the ATV she was driving hit a curb in a parking lot and threw her down a drop-off that was thought to be between 5 to 7 feet. She reportedly told paramedics that she couldn’t move her toes or feel anything touching her legs. Van Dyken Rouen’s husband — former Denver Broncos player Tom Rouen — was with her at the time of the accident and told authorities that his wife hadn’t been drinking.

According to the Associated Press, a letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said that the 46-year-old swimmer had severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae and that the broken vertebrae had come within millimeters of piercing her aorta.

Van Dyken Rouen made her name at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympic Games. (She snagged the top prize in the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly events and was part of the winning relay teams in the 400 free and 400 medley.) Four years later in Sydney, Van Dyken Rouen won two more gold medals when she competed with the winning U.S. relay teams for the 400 free and 400 medley.

“The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken’s unfortunate accident this weekend,” said the national governing body for competitive swimming in a statement on their website. “We’re happy to hear that she escaped and is now in great care. That she is already ‘acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self’ shows she’s on a great path. Amy is a champion who has proven throughout her life that she is a fighter who takes on challenges and comes out on top. We know Amy will tackle her rehabilitation with vigor and be back on her feet sooner rather than later.”

Despite the severity of the accident, Van Dyken Rouen has been posting photos to social media from her hospital bed, including a snap of artwork made by her niece and nephew, along with the hashtag #hostpitalsSuck.

A drawing from my niece and nephew. They are so sweet. Made me smile. #hospitalsSuck

A photo posted by Amy Van Dyken (@amyvandyken) on

 

TIME South Africa

Psychiatrist Says Pistorius Has Anxiety Disorder

The psychiatrist called as a defense witness on Monday in the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius said childhood events, including the loss of his lower legs and late mother's habit of sleeping with a gun, are linked to his "escalating" anxiety levels

A psychiatrist called as a defense witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial said Monday that the South African Olympian has an anxiety disorder that affects how he responds to perceived threats.

Dr. Merryll Vorster said events in Pistorius’ childhood, like the amputation of his lower legs and his late mother’s paranoid habit of sleeping with a gun under her pillow, contributed to his “escalating levels of anxiety,” the Associated Press reports.

Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot early on Valentines’ Day morning last year. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. Prosecutors say he intentionally murdered Steenkamp during an argument.

Vorster testified that Pistorius, the double-amputee who became famous as “Blade Runner,” had a fear of crime, and that his amputated limbs caused him to respond to threats differently than other people. She said that he would more likely try to “fight” a perceived intruder rather than run away, because his stumps make it difficult to flee. “Overall, Mr. Pistorius appears to be a mistrustful and guarded person,” she said.

On cross-examination, the chief prosecutor asked Vorster if someone with Pistorius’s anxiety condition and access to guns would be a danger to society; Vorster answered yes. Following the psychiatrist’s testimony, the chief prosecutor requested that Pistorius be placed under psychiatric observation, but Judge Thokozile Masipa has not yet ruled on the request.

[AP]

TIME 2016 Summer Olympics

Olympic Committee: No Truth To Rumors About Moving 2016 Games To London

The International Olympic Committee flatly denied rumors circulating in the British press that the 2016 Summer Olympics may be moved from Brazil to London because of construction delays in host city Rio de Janeiro

A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee flatly denied Friday rumors circulating in the British press that London had been approached about taking over the 2016 Summer Olympics from Brazil.

“Not a shred of truth to it,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told the Associated Press in an email. “Simply a non-starter –totally without foundation and totally unfeasible.”

The London Evening Standard reported earlier Friday that London, which hosted the 2012 Olympics but has already begun dismantling or converting some of the sporting venues, “has been secretly asked” to take over.

Brazil, which is also hosting the FIFA World Cup this summer, has drawn criticism for massive construction delays and other issues. ICO vice president John Coates said last week the country’s preparations were “the worst I have ever experienced,” but he also said there was no “plan B.”

[AP]

TIME Athletes

Olympian Tyson Gay Suspended for Doping, Returns Silver Medal

FILE: U.S. Sprinter Tyson Gay Receives One-Year Ban For Doping
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has announced that U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay has received a one-year suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid May 2, 2014. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Tyson Gay, the American 100 meter record holder, has been suspended from competing for one year and has been forced to return his 2012 Olympic silver medal. Gay is tied for the second fastest man in history

U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay has been suspended for one year and forced to return his 2012 Olympic silver medal after testing positive for a banned substance, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Friday.

The USADA said Gay accepted a one-year suspension that began June 23, 2013. He was also disqualified from all results since July 15, 2015, according to Reuters, when he first used the product that contained a prohibited substance.

Tied for the second fastest man in history, Gay holds the American record for the 100 meter race. At the 2012 London Olympics, he won the silver medal with the U.S. 4×100 meter relay team.

He admitted in July that he failed a doping test, and the USADA said his punishment was reduced because he cooperated with their investigation. He’ll be eligible to compete, including in future Olympics, beginning in June.

“We appreciate Tyson doing the right thing by immediately withdrawing from competition once he was notified, accepting responsibility for his decisions, and fully and truthfully cooperating with us in our ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding his case,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement.

TIME Crime

Pistorius’ Tears Aren’t Necessarily a Sign of Innocence

SAFRICA-JUSTICE-CRIME-PISTORIUS
South African Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts as he listens to evidence by a pathologist during his trial in court in Pretoria on April 7, 2014. THEMBA HADEBE—AFP/Getty Images

The famous athlete might be crying and vomiting on the stand, but experts say domestic abusers are notoriously good at showing remorse

Oscar Pistorius’ testimony is hard to watch. The South African Olympic “Blade Runner” sobs through his story of the night he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day 2013. He retches when he sees pictures of her injuries and cries and sweats through his clothing during his testimony. He seems overwhelmed with regret for shooting Steenkamp through the bathroom door that night, even though he says he only shot her because he thought she was an intruder.

But for the millions of people following the trial, his behavior raises a deeply uncomfortable thought: could someone who seems so viscerally distraught also be a calculating murderer?

Under South African law, Pistorius’ intent to kill could mean the difference between life in prison and a reduced sentence. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure what went through another person’s head at a particular moment, and the question of intent may never be answered for certain, no matter how much evidence is brought up in court.

The optics were bad for Pistorius as the prosecution laid out their case in the first part of the trial. He has admitted to being passionate about guns, and his friends say he had a short temper. His texts with Steenkamp sounded controlling and jealous, and his ex-girlfriend said he was a jerk. And, on the night of the killing, neighbors said they heard the sounds of a screaming argument before the gunshots.

Then again, there’s a real pathos to Pistorius’s story, if he’s telling the truth. Pistorius might have been a controlling cad, but he didn’t have a history of violence against women. Pistorius’ fear of intruders doesn’t seem fabricated, especially given the crime levels in South Africa and his physical disability. And it’s easy to imagine how a half-asleep, trigger-happy man might panic and shoot, especially when he did not have his prosthetic legs on and felt he couldn’t run (Pistorius maintains he walked on his stumps to the bathroom.)

Most of all, Pistorius’ anguish on the stand is so visceral, it seems impossible he could be lying; crocodile tears are one thing, but repeatedly vomiting in a bucket is another. But look past his weeping, and the raw facts already presented raise significant doubts. Steencamp was in the bathroom behind a locked door in the middle of the night when she was shot. Experts say that domestic abuse victims tend to lock themselves in small spaces when they feel threatened, in order to create a barrier against their attacker. Pistorius said he was “besotted” with Steenkamp, but in text messages Steenkamp said she was “scared” of him.

And those outbursts of grief in the courtroom? Experts say domestic abusers tend to show a lot of strong emotions as they manipulate their victims, so they’re used to turning their feelings on and off.

“If they were robots, nobody would date them or be with them,” said Cindy Southworth, a Vice President at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “They’re able to display a lot of human emotion, but research shows they’re always in control.”

Southworth says that Pistorius’ courtroom theatrics are consistent with the “compelling and calculated remorse” she sees from other abusers who are being held accountable, and that plenty of abusers kill their partners even when they’ve never used violence before. “There are many, many dead victims who were killed the first time they were struck,” she said. “Middle class offenders, loving family members, no police reports, then she’s dead.”

It’s tempting to believe Pistorius’ story of psychological horror and mistaken identity, since it seems almost like something out of a Greek tragedy–a sports hero doomed by his one vulnerability. But no matter how many times he pukes in a bucket, the story of a controlling gun-lover, a loud argument, and a dead woman is one we’ve heard before.

TIME Business of Sports

Sports TV Broadcasting Hits New Highs … in Annoying Fans

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Jetta Productions—Getty Images

Lately, many sports fans who have tried to watch the Winter Olympics, or NCAA Final Four basketball, or the Atlanta Braves, or the Los Angeles Dodgers have been frustrated for a very basic reason.

They can’t find the !?#&*!? sporting event on TV.

On Saturday night, countless college basketball fans tuned in to CBS, hoping to watch the men’s Final Four March Madness tournament matchups of Wisconsin-vs.-Kentucky and Florida-vs.-Connecticut. Instead of basketball, viewers were treated to reruns of CBS dramas “Person of Interest” and “Criminal Minds.”

After some confusion, and perhaps some cursing and throwing of remotes, shoes, and cheese dip, previously unaware viewers discovered that for the first time since March Madness has been televised, the national semifinals weren’t shown on network TV. The back-to-back games, played on what’s often thought of the best night of the year for college basketball, were only broadcast on cable. On several cable channels, in fact, thanks to a curious arrangement with Turner Sports, in which TBS hosted the main broadcast, and sister channels TNT and TruTV showed the same game but with different local play-by-play announcers to cater to each team’s fan base.

In any event, the games weren’t on network TV. That was enough to ruin the night for cord cutters, i.e., folks who don’t have pay TV, who have also missed out on the tournament’s many other games shown only on TBS, TNT, or TruTV rather than CBS.

(MORE: Why Las Vegas Loves March Madness Way More Than the Super Bowl)

The arrangement did more than alienate the fairly sizeable portion of fans too cheap to have a pay TV package. Despite an onslaught of coverage telling folks that they games were on cable for the first time ever— according to Adweek, the campaign included digital billboards in subways, ads shown before films in theaters, promos on radio and TV, and a takeover of USAToday.com’s home page—the move to cable did some serious damage to TV ratings as well. Yes, when combined the trio of Turner Sports channels achieved a record high number of viewers for a non-football sporting event on cable, but the shift away from network broadcast also resulted in a multi-year low in ratings overall. The Associated Press reported that an average of 14 million viewers watched the games on Saturday night, down 11% from a year ago when they were shown on CBS. (TBS is in 14% fewer American homes than CBS.)

There’s no mystery as to why any of the parties involved would risk aggravating fans by showing the games on cable rather than CBS: Like so many things, it’s all about money.

CBS and Turner Sports are a few years into a 14-year, $10.8 billion partnership with the NCAA to air the March Madness tournament. One reason that TBS and its siblings agreed to the deal—thereby helping CBS from losing the tournament to ESPN and ABC—is that they were guaranteed the right to air some of the tournament’s premier high-ratings games, rather than just the earlier rounds.

More importantly, these networks, and the powers than be in general in sports and TV, are well aware that live sports is the largest reason many Americans continue to cut a check for a monthly pay TV bill. Time Warner, which owns TBS, TNT, TruTV, CNN, and many other cable networks (and, for a little while longer, Time Inc. and Time.com), obviously has great interest in keeping levels of cable-paying households high. They want cord cutting to hurt, or at least be difficult and impractical for sports fans to circumvent, and moving the Final Four to cable does just that.

(MORE: YouTube Is Going to Use TV to Destroy TV)

The Final Four broadcast is hardly the only example of how larger battles over money and TV rights are frustrating the lives and viewing habits of sports fans—perhaps turning some into former fans in the process. Four years ago, NBC Universal angered hockey fans and the hockey world in general by its decision to air some premier Olympic hockey games on cable rather than the main network. Likewise, fans were only able to view many events from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi by watching them on cable (or streaming them online, only possible with a pay TV account). Of course, Comcast, the biggest player in pay TV, owns NBC Universal, so it makes a lot of sense to strategically broadcast in-demand sporting events in ways that push people to feel the monthly cable bill is still unavoidable, if not exactly well worth the money.

At 162 regular season games plus playoffs, Major League Baseball plays the most games of any pro sport, and therefore it has the most games aired on TV. But thanks to a trend kicked off largely by the advent of the Yankees-focused YES Network more than ten years ago, fans are increasingly likely to be forced to jump through hoops, or at least cough up extra cash, in order to tune in. For instance, an ongoing dispute between Fox Sports and Dish TV in Atlanta will result in some Braves fans being unable to watch nearly one-third of the team’s games this season.

Over in southern California, a huge brawl over Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasts pits the Dodgers-owed SportsNET LA network and its distributor, Time Warner Cable, on one side, and on the other, a range of pay TV providers such as Cox, Charter, and DirecTV, which so far are refusing to pay the high fees being demanded to include the channel in customer packages. Caught in the middle, of course, are the many fans who use other TV providers, and who often don’t live in areas where they could get SportsNET LA even if they wanted to pay for it.

(MORE: Hank Aaron Would Have Faced More Racism Today)

The result is an absurd scenario epitomized by a recent column from the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke, who on Dodgers opening day hit a handful of bars, as well as a taco shop, bowling alley, and a Burger King, trying—and failing—to find the game on TV. The deal the Dodgers cut for the rights to broadcast games is incredibly lucrative for the club. But as Plaschke warned the Dodgers, the money may come at the cost of quite a few fans. “Dodgers, ask your fans if they are willing to sacrifice watching the games on television for the sake of having the league’s richest team,” he wrote. “They would say no.”

Plaschke ran into one sports bar patron, who noted the irony of seeing Dodgers jerseys posted to the tavern’s wall and yet “they can’t even get the games,” he said. “At least everyone can still watch the Angels.”

For the time being anyway.

TIME animals

10 Stray Sochi Pups Arrive in U.S.

Washington Animal Rescue League Intake Director Maureen Sosa visits with a stray dog from Sochi, Russia, inside its 'doggie den' at the league's shelter March 27, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Washington Animal Rescue League Intake Director Maureen Sosa visits with a stray dog from Sochi, Russia, inside its 'doggie den' at the league's shelter March 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Animal rescuers say 10 stray dogs rescued from the Winter Olympics host city, amid reports that Russian authorities were killing them before the Games, have arrived in Washington D.C., where the Washington Animal Rescue League is coordinating their adoption

Americans brought home 28 medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but animal rescuers from U.S. couldn’t help bringing home a bundle of four-legged friends, too.

Ten dogs rescued from the streets landed safely in the U.S. on Thursday, Humane Society International said. The dogs landed at Dulles Airport and were brought to Washington D.C., where Washington Animal Rescue League is coordinating their adoption. The dogs are expected to be ready for adoption within weeks. Animal rights activists sprung into action earlier this year after widespread reports that Russian authorities were killing stray dogs before the Winter Olympics got underway.

“We are excited to make the connection for homeless Sochi dogs with loving homes in the United States, with our focus on helping street dogs in Russia and around the world,” Kelly O’Meara of the Humane Society said in a statement. “Our goal is to protect street dogs from cruel and unnecessary killing programs—like the one employed by Sochi officials to ‘clean up’ in advance of the Olympics—by working with governments to create humane and effective dog population management programs.”

“They’re the sweetest, most interactive, very friendly dogs, very adoptable that just happen to be unfortunate enough to be living on the street,” O’Meara told CNN of the dogs up for adoption.

Humane Society International, in partnership with animal rescue organizations in Sochi, led the effort to take in wandering mutts during the Games. American skier and Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy also adopted four dogs during the games, bringing more attention to the doomed fate of many pups on the streets of Sochi. More dogs are expected to arrive from Russia in the coming weeks.

TIME olympics

Ukraine Will Compete in Sochi Paralymics

UKRAINE PARALYMPIC
Flag bearer Mykhaylo Tkachenko of Ukraine attends the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, March 07 2014. Julian Stratenschulte—EPA

Despite Russia's military forces moving into Crimea, Ukraine has decided to participate in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi just hours before the opening ceremonies and had earlier consulted with athletes

Ukraine has decided it will participate in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi even as Russian troops have taken over the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee announced its decision just hours before the opening ceremonies of the games Friday, the Associated Press reports. It consulted with the athletes before opting not to boycott the competition amid a tense geopolitical standoff with Russia.

“I don’t remember a situation when the organizing country during a Paralympics started an intervention on the territory of a country taking part. I don’t know what to extent the team can focus on the result now,” the the AP quoted Valeriy Sushkevich, president of the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine, saying to the R-Sport agency.

Sushkevich added that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to ask for peace during the games. Putin reportedly listened to his case, though he did not guarantee a truce. Sushkevich said Ukraine’s team will leave if the military conflict escalates further.

The International Paralympic Committee has asked Russia to recognize the U.N.’s Olympic Truce, which appeals for ceasefire during the Olympic games. The Ukrainian athletes chanted “peace to Ukraine” during the flag-raising ceremony in Sochi on Thursday night. The incident is now being investigated as a possible breach of Olympic rules that ban political protest.

[AP]

TIME Africa

Ex-Girlfriend Says ‘Blade Runner’ Had a Temper and Loved His Gun

Samantha Taylor says Oscar Pistorius was trigger happy and quick to get angry

Oscar Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend said Friday that the Olympian double-amputee known as “Blade Runner” had a temper and was known to fire his gun when angry.

Samantha Taylor testified at Pistorius’ murder trial in South Africa that he was quick to get angry, would frequently scream at her and her family members, and cheated on her multiple times, including with Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he’s accused of murdering. She also said he never went anywhere without his pistol, and recalled at least two occasions when he had drawn or fired his gun out of anger, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Taylor said Pistorius had once fired his pistol out of an open sunroof because he was angry that a policeman had stopped the car and touched the gun. Taylor also described another incident when Pistorius had pulled a gun on a car that was following theirs.

Taylor’s testimony also rebutted one of the defense’s key arguments, that Pistorius sounded like a woman when he screamed. “When he screamed, it sounded like a man,” she said.

Pistorius killed his girlfriend, Steenkamp, very early on Valentine’s Day morning last year. His defense team says the Olympian athlete shot into the bathroom thinking he was shooting an intruder and protecting Steenkamp. The prosecution says Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument that was heard by multiple neighbors.

Taylor said that Pistorius did occasionally wake up and think there were intruders in the house, but she said he always woke her up when that happened.

[LAT]

TIME Appreciation

Awesome Dad Builds Fully Functioning Backyard Luge Track For His Kids

A little slice of Sochi, right here in the USA

Wanting to bring some of the excitement of the Winter Olympics to his very own backyard, Long Island dad Jay Venini built a luge track for his kids to enjoy. It’s very patriotic and his kids are super into it. Regular old sledding will never be the same again now that we know this exists.

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