Calgary joins list of cities grappling with costs of crumbling Olympic venues


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  • Calgary is latest city to face problems keeping expensive former Olympic venues operating.
  • At Issue tackles the issues fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry.
  • How a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

Aging Olympic venues

Last November, Calgarians rejected a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics over fears of spiralling costs.

But now the bills are coming due all the same.

Yesterday, WinSport, the not-for-profit corporation that operates the legacy venues from the 1988 Games, announced that it doesn’t have the money for long-planned renovations to the city’s sliding centre, and might be forced to shutter the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track come next fall.

The project to replace the refrigeration system and make other needed upgrades had already received $10 million in provincial funding and a promise of a further $7 million from Ottawa. However, WinSport says that won’t be nearly enough, estimating the total costs to be at least $25 million, plus decades of future operating subsidies that currently run at $750,000 a year.

Sport federations had been assured that the project was going to go ahead regardless of the 2026 Games bid, which called for the refurbishment and reuse of the 1988 venues. Now they face months of uncertainty as WinSport tries to pry more money out of the Alberta and federal governments.

A skeleton athlete trains on the 1988 Calgary Olympic track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in October 2018. The facility is estimated to need at least $25 million in maintenance work to keep it operating. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Of course, Canada does have another world-class sliding facility in Whistler, a legacy of the 2010 Olympics. Canada’s high-performance sliders already train and compete there as well, so moving the national team programs and world cup races from Alberta to B.C. would be more of an inconvenience than an impossibility.

But the closure of the Calgary venue would severely hamper the kids’ camps and development programs that produce the next generation of athletes, and have helped Canada to eight Olympic medals in bobsleigh and skeleton since 2006.

Nor is it the only post-Games problem that the city is facing.

Two of the three neighbouring ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, now in a state of terminal disrepair, are scheduled to soon be torn down. The 90-metre tower will survive, but only for use as a zipline launch and to boost cellphone signals.

Several other ’88 venues are also in dire need of renovations, including the speed skating oval — at least $15 million for foundation work and ice plant upgrades — and the cross-country and downhill ski areas in Canmore and Nakiska.

And then there’s the ongoing fight with the Calgary Flames over their desire to replace the aging Saddledome with a new NHL rink, to be largely paid for by the public.

Steam rises from buildings near the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta. The Calgary Flames want the old stadium replaced with a new NHL rink. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

For all the focus on the cost of hosting an Olympics, relatively little attention gets paid to the price of keeping the venues going after the circus leaves town.

Utah has earmarked $40 million US to keep its 2002 Games sites in good shape as it pursues a possible bid for another Winter Olympics, and now there are calls for a further $15 million in order to attract more international competitions.

Although increasingly, host nations seem to be leaning towards the other choice — just letting stuff fall apart.

A year after the Pyeongchang Games, many of the 2018 venues sit idle. The sliding centre is closed — ironically, South Korean athletes now train in Calgary — and the speed-skating arena is without ice. The hockey arena has been used three times since the games finished, and the figure skating venue has hosted two concerts.

All of which is better than Rio, Athens and Beijing, where many Summer Games facilities have basically been left to rot.

A view from the stands in Rio de Janiero’s derelict Olympic Aquatics stadium in May 2017, less than a year after Brazil’s Games. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Even the biggest, shiniest Olympic jewels — the cavernous stadiums that host the Opening and Closing ceremonies and track and field — are perpetual white elephants.

London Stadium, now home to the Premier League’s West Ham United, is costing British taxpayers somewhere between $74,000 and $431,000 a game — estimates vary — in a cut-rate lease that runs for 99 years.

And a Harvard Business School study released last fall concluded that most Olympic stadiums are set up to fail, built too big, indebted and ugly to succeed as homes for pro teams or cultural events.

None of which will come as news to Montrealers.

The « Big Owe, » built for the 1976 Summer Games but not paid off until 40 years later, still needs a $250 million replacement roof.

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, seen here in November 2017, is still waiting for the design of its new $250 million roof to be approved. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Yesterday, the Régie des installations olympiques announced that the work will be pushed back another year as they try to make sure that the new roof will actually work, since two previous versions ripped.

The new lid is scheduled to be in place by 2023, and will hopefully last until the city hosts some FIFA World Cup matches in 2026.

At Issue

Tonight’s At Issue panel tackles the problems fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry, writes Rosemary Barton.

From the low price of Canadian crude, to a lack of pipelines, it’s safe to say Alberta’s economy is facing serious challenges.

This week I travelled to Edmonton as part of our National Conversation series. With the federal election now just eight months away (yes, the countdown clock is on) and a provincial election before that, we wanted to talk about the future of the province and hear from Albertans directly.

And we wanted the provincial government’s perspective, too.

Premier Rachel Notley told me she still believes a pipeline is the best and safest option to move oil to market. But given the current stalemate, she has no choice but to keep looking to railcars (remember she announced the province would be purchasing 7,000 railcars last fall).

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley answers questions from the audience at CBC’s The National Conversation event in Edmonton. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

So is Ottawa doing enough to help Alberta? And should Notley be doing more to stand up to the federal government?

The premier says she is, but many who were in the audience for our event in Edmonton or submitted questions for Notley online felt otherwise.

She says it’s all about explaining to Canadians why they should care about Alberta’s success.

But there are, of course, politics at play here.

I also sat down with Notley’s political rival, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, who says Notley’s mistake was focusing her energy on one pipeline to solve the provincial economy’s problems.

Jason Kenney and Rosemary Barton talk Alberta politics over coffee. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Tonight on At Issue, we’ll take this opportunity to talk about Alberta’s economic woes, the political implications, and ask where both the province and the federal government go from here.

Plus whatever else comes our way — a lot can change in a few hours in Canadian politics. Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and Althia Raj will join me for my favourite night of the week.

See you then.

– Rosemary Barton

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Yiddish Glory at the Grammys

Producer Greg Hobbs describes how a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.

When Yiddish Studies professor Anna Shternshis found herself in the unlikely position of overseeing the production of a musical recording, she discovered that musicians can connect with the past in ways historians might not be able to.

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is a Grammy-nominated collection of songs written by Jewish Red Army soldiers, refugees and victims of the Ukrainian ghettos.

University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis in her office at the University of Toronto. Her work led to the making of the Grammy-nominated album ‘Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II.’ (Anand Ram/CBC)

The works were discovered by Shternshis during the early 2000s in a box at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, while she was working on a project about the decline of Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union. They are unique, in that they were written in Yiddish from the perspective of those battling through one of the darkest periods of the 20th century for Soviet Jews, as they experienced it.

« The rumours that the songs were collected existed, » says Shternshis, who teaches at the University of Toronto. « But scholars believed that this collection was destroyed and never survived the war. »

Some of the documents came with musical notations, others were just lyrics.

Early in the production process, when Shternshis was working with Russian songwriter Psoy Korolenko to put music to the lyrics of a piece called Purim Gifts for Hitler, Korolenko said he wanted to add a line.

« I said to Psoy, ‘this is a terrible idea,' » recounts Shternshis, who was trying to be as authentic as possible to the originals.

Shternshis displays photos she took of lyric sheets of Yiddish songs from the World War II era that were thought to have been lost. (Anand Ram/CBC)

Purim Gifts is a defiant song decrying Hitler’s attempts to defeat the Jews. As the translated lyrics go, « You’re not my first enemy, before you I’ve had many others. »

While first performing the song on behalf of Shternshis at an academic conference, Korolenko insisted on adding a well-known Yiddish and Hebrew saying that translates as, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It was a rousing moment that the audience loved, although it made Shternshis uncomfortable.

To her astonishment, she later discovered an earlier handwritten version of the song in a different section of the Vernadsky Library. In that version, the lyrics ended with the very same line, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It turns out that this is what the original author had intended before Stalin’s censors got their hands on the lyrics.

It was eye-opening for Shternshis.

« Musicians can really get what the other musicians were saying, many years later, better than a historian, » she says.

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is nominated for a Grammy in the World Music Category. For more on the collection, watch tonight’s The National on CBC Television and streamed online.

– Greg Hobbs

Juno Award-winning jazz vocalist Sophie Milman performs an anti-fascist song titled Chuvasher Tekher (Daughters of Chuvashia), written during World War II, which is on the Grammy-nominated album Yiddish Glory:

A few words on … 

The passing of one of Parliament Hill’s good guys.

Quote of the moment

« It’s my last name, I’ve always had it. I’m not ashamed of it. There’s nothing bad about it. »

– Melville, Sask., resident Dave Assman (pronounced « Oss-men ») reacts to the government’s rejection of his Seinfeldesque request for a personalized licence plate.

Dave Assman says he’d like a licence plate personalized with his name, because he’s proud of it. (Submitted by Dave Assman)

What The National is reading

  • PMO pressed Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin (Globe and Mail)
  • It’s official: 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record (NY Times)
  • ‘Torn apart’ by Brexit: Northern Ireland residents fear border could reignite violence (CBC)
  • France recalls Italian ambassador after ‘unfounded attacks’ and « provocations’ (France 24)
  • Calgary teachers’ conference cancels convicted murderer’s presentation (CBC)
  • Brazil’s ex-president Lula convicted in second corruption case (Al Jazeera)
  • U.K. students paid up to £3,500 to catch potentially deadly diseases (Telegraph)
  • Arrow killing ruled a homicide (CBC)
  • 8 hospitalized for burns after trying ‘boiling water challenge’ (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Bounty hunters had access to U.S. cellphone customer location data for years (Motherboard)

Today in history

Feb. 7, 1997: Keith’s beer becomes available outside the Maritimes

The Halifax-brewed, kind-of India Pale Ale, taps into some expansion money from its Belgian-based parent company to offer drinkers in Ontario and elsewhere an authentic taste of Nova Scotia.

Alexander Keith’s beer becomes available outside the Maritimes. 1:30

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Former Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Milton – National


Former Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden has won the federal Liberal nomination in Milton Sunday.

The Liberal Party made the announcement Sunday evening on Twitter.

The party said in a statement that the “long-time Liberal … received early support from a broad spectrum of community and business leaders in Milton and spent several weeks knocking on doors and meeting with the families within the riding.”

Van Koeverden has won four medals at the Olympics, including gold – the most by any Canadian paddler – as well as two world championships. He was Canada’s flagbearer at the Olympic games in Athens and Beijing.

He will be running against veteran Conservative MP Lisa Raitt in Milton.

Adam van Koeverden, 4-time Olympic medallist, to run for Liberals in next federal election

Raitt has held the riding since it was first created in 2015 and has been a high profile member of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. She was appointed the Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Van Koeverden, 36, announced his intention to run as a Liberal candidate last October.

According to a website outlining his candidacy, van Koeverden’s campaign will put an emphasis on youth, sport, physical education and healthy communities.

WATCH: Olympic gold medallist Adam van Koeverden ends his career with donation to Right To Play

The riding has not been without controversy. The party’s 2015 candidate, Azim Rizvee, said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed him to resign.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told me and my wife very aggressively that Adam van Koeverden is his preferred candidate for the Milton riding,” Rizvee said in a statement Saturday. “The Liberal party leadership did not allow me to contest the nomination so that [the] prime minister’s preferred candidate, Adan van Koeverden, can be nominated.”

A Liberal spokesperson said the Milton nomination followed the party’s nomination rules and more than 800 Liberal members voted.

Braeden Caley did not provide a breakdown of the results but said the other nomination candidate was Mian Abubaqr, the president of the Milton riding association.

-With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Secret 1988 Olympic report goes behind the scenes of Ben Johnson’s drug-test hearing


An Olympic anti-doping report kept secret for 30 years has revealed that some athletes at the Seoul Summer Games, including two medallists, escaped punishment for potential drug infractions while others — including world champion Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson — were summarily disqualified.

Details contained in the 1988 Olympic Medical Commission documents obtained by the Star provide the first official accounting of how top anti-doping scientists responded to the Games’ cheating athletes and in particular, how they handled the Olympics’ most explosive and enduring drug scandal: Johnson’s positive test for an anabolic steroid.

Ben Johnson maintains he was “targeted” at the 1988 Games for disqualification. “I came in clean and came out dirty,” he said in an interview.
Ben Johnson maintains he was “targeted” at the 1988 Games for disqualification. “I came in clean and came out dirty,” he said in an interview.  (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

Quick background: On Sept. 24, 1988, Johnson, then 26, won the Olympic 100 metres in world record time, beating American archrival Carl Lewis in the Games’ most hyped showdown. Three days later, the Toronto runner was stripped of his medal and his record, and was flying home from Seoul in disgrace. Lewis was awarded the gold.

Though Johnson would later admit that he, in fact, had used banned anabolic steroids during training, his story remains compelling as more details about his treatment in Seoul — including his withheld lab report and alterations made to parts of it, a Star investigation found — continue to emerge three decades later.

When asked about the new revelations, Johnson, who regularly deals with the public during his travels for speaking engagements, said his story strikes them the same way he sees it.

“People think ‘Who in their right mind would take something (banned) leading up to Games, knowing they’re going to win at the Games and that they will be tested?’ ” said Johnson, a 57-year-old grandfather of three.

The IOC did not return a request for comment on the report’s release.

Read more:

Johnson’s surprising lab tests revealed

Ben was fast, justice was faster

Is it time to see Ben Johnson in a new light?

The 134-page medical commission document makes it clear there was no benefit of the doubt for Johnson. He was the lone track-and-field athlete disqualified from Seoul for doping.

Information in the report suggests the IOC’s anti-doping police doubled down on quashing the Canadian’s theory that sabotage could explain the presence in his urine of the metabolites of stanozolol, a muscle-building steroid commonly used in training periods prior to competitions. Johnson had claimed a stranger in the doping control room after the race sat close to him and could have spiked his beer.

In a departure from its routine, the commission presented an unofficial testing method to detect long-term steroid use as additional damning evidence against Johnson — a method not applied to other athletes discussed in the archived document as proof of cheating. In addition, one commission member proposed to block attempts by Johnson to challenge his doping infraction by not permitting future tests on the runner’s race-day water bottle and his other medications to undermine the Seoul findings. (Later testing would show that the water bottle was free of steroid traces.)

Meanwhile, others received leniency. That included a group of track-and-field athletes from the U.S. and Britain, according to the IOC document.

Eight unnamed Americans, tested during competition shortly before the Games, were not sanctioned after their cases were discussed in Seoul. Star British sprinter Linford Christie barely avoided Olympic disqualification, despite one commission member declaring Christie’s test result after the 200 metres “a clear case of doping.”

In the 100-metre race, Christie was awarded the silver medal after Johnson was sent home. The British runner passed his drug test in that sprint, held a few days before the 200 metres, without incident.

Johnson maintains he was “targeted” at the Games for disqualification.

“I came in clean and came out dirty,” he said in an interview.

Former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, with his Australian friend Jamie Fuller and two camera operators, stand before the IOC headquarters in Lausanne in 2013. Johnson, Fuller and the film crew made a video on the 25th anniversary of the Seoul Olympics. New documents have just been released from the IOC.
Former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, with his Australian friend Jamie Fuller and two camera operators, stand before the IOC headquarters in Lausanne in 2013. Johnson, Fuller and the film crew made a video on the 25th anniversary of the Seoul Olympics. New documents have just been released from the IOC.  (COURTESY BEN JOHNSON)

In most Olympics during the early days of competition, challenges with venues and logistics arise. Seoul was no different. The medical commission report noted there were security problems at doping control rooms and lab issues, including:

New “wide-necked bottles” for athletes’ urine samples sometimes leaked, causing potential problems with labelling numbers “as some bottles had been replaced”; people without special identification passes were entering secure doping control room areas (where athletes provided samples) — in one case, an overly curious Turkish team doctor was forcibly removed from volleyball’s control room; four “instruments” in the main IOC anti-doping lab broke during the Games, pushing lab testing to capacity midway through the Olympics.

One thing that pleased the commission was the skill of the main lab where urine samples, collected at various sports venues around Seoul, would be analyzed for a long list of prohibited substances. It reported to its members that a pair of planted samples by system testers had been correctly identified.

“Two test positive samples had been placed among the boxing controls and had been successfully detected by the laboratory for (the anabolic steroid) oxandrolone and caffeine,” it was noted in a meeting on Sept. 19, 1988.

Oxandrolone was printed on Johnson’s 1988 lab report paperwork, then scratched out. Stanozolol was the final finding.

In Seoul, medical commission members didn’t always agree among themselves when considering athletes’ explanations for doping infractions.

In Linford Christie’s case, for instance, there was a “lengthy discussion” among members after which “it was decided that that athlete should be given the benefit of the doubt” that the levels of pseudo-ephedrine in his system were linked to ginseng consumption. The vote was not unanimous. Christie’s case was publicly discussed during the Seoul Games by British Olympic team officials.

As for the two Olympic medallists who avoided sanctions, the Star is not identifying them other than to say they were not track-and-field athletes.

The eight American athletes had their identities protected in the medical commission report while almost every other athlete with potential doping infractions was identified — including one athlete who had also tested positive for a banned substance prior to the Seoul Games.

(One unnamed cyclist is mentioned in medical commission notes, referencing his “low concentration of an anabolic steroid because of cream applied in his trousers.” It’s unclear if the cyclist was in Seoul; there were no more details about him.)

The American cases went before International Amateur Athletics Federation officials, who listened to a presentation from the United States Olympic Committee on Sept. 19, according to medical commission notes. The notes go on to state that “the cases had concerned over-the-counter herbal preparations containing ephedrine” and that the IAAF “was satisfied with the report submitted and ruled that no sanctions would be taken and the case was now closed.”

American athlete Carl Lewis takes a victory lap around the track of the Los Angeles Coliseum, August 4, 1984 after winning the gold medal in the Olympic Games 100-meter dash.
American athlete Carl Lewis takes a victory lap around the track of the Los Angeles Coliseum, August 4, 1984 after winning the gold medal in the Olympic Games 100-meter dash.  (AP Photo/The Los Angeles Times, Skeeter Hagler)

In 2003, Sports Illustrated reported that at the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, Carl Lewis tested positive three times for “small amounts” of banned stimulants found in cold medications. Lewis was initially disqualified from the Seoul Games but the USOC overturned the decision on his appeal, agreeing that it was inadvertent doping, the sports magazine reported.

Lewis is not named in the 1988 IOC Medical Commission report.

When Ben Johnson’s case came before the commission, it was all over in about three hours.

In Seoul in 1988, Montreal lawyer Richard Pound — who was a well-regarded IOC vice-president — defended Johnson.

Neither Johnson nor his coach, the late Charlie Francis, attended the hearing; others, including Roger Jackson, then the president of the Canadian Olympic Association, and Canadian chief medical officer William Stanish, an orthopedic surgeon, were at the session that began at 10 p.m. on Sept. 26.

The 1988 report stated that early in the meeting, it was noted that commission member Prof. Manfred Donike had been “responsible for the analysis of the B sample” and he explained the findings to the group. The B-sample testing confirmed the steroid findings in Johnson’s A sample.

According to the report, Pound told the commission the Canadian delegation didn’t want to challenge the scientific results but broached a “certain lack of security” between the end of the 100-metre final and the time Johnson provided his urine sample, at the doping control station at the track-and-field stadium.

The report goes on to say Pound “stressed the build-up which had surrounded the 100m race and the two principle athletes (Johnson and Lewis) involved” and that Pound “felt there had been a general breakdown in procedures following the race, rendering the result of the doping tests questionable.”

Pound stated that people who accompanied Johnson to doping control, including an RCMP officer assigned to the athlete, claimed there were “many other people in the dope control station other than those whose presence was required for the test.”

The lawyer also raised the possibility that Johnson’s water bottle had been tampered with when he put it in a basket with his warm-up clothes to race. Pound told commission members a stranger was in the doping control room, offering to get the sprinter beer (Johnson got his own) but who sat “very close to the athlete.” According to meeting notes, it was later alleged — though it’s unclear by whom — that the unknown person had been seen with Lewis, which commission chairman Alexandre de Merode “pointed out as possibly quite harmless.”

(The Star tracked down the stranger, a friend of Carl Lewis’ named Andre Jackson, in a 2016 investigation.)

Ben Johnson and Andre Jackson in the doping control room in Seoul 1988. Jackson was not supposed to be there, one of the bizarre chapters and sources of controversy that remain from those Games.
Ben Johnson and Andre Jackson in the doping control room in Seoul 1988. Jackson was not supposed to be there, one of the bizarre chapters and sources of controversy that remain from those Games.

Before the commission, Pound described Johnson as “a slow learner” but an athlete who “retained the importance of collecting his own beer.”

Pound further expanded the sabotage theory — a theory that would be debunked later at a royal commission.

He said stanozolol was a drug that metabolized quickly, “thus favoring its use should anyone wish to ‘frame’ someone else,” and that it tightened muscles, something not “sought for by a sprinter,” according to report notes. Pound added Johnson was an experienced athlete who knew he’d be tested after an Olympic race; had been tested several times in 1988 with all results negative; and “that considering the reasonable doubt which surrounded the test, an athlete of such calibre was entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”

The anti-doping experts pushed back.

Dr. Arne Ljungqvist, a Swedish commission member who was also chairman of the International Amateur Athletics Federation Medical Commission, was in the doping control room when Johnson arrived after his race. Ljungqvist said he questioned staff there, but “staff were convinced that no unauthorized persons had been present,” according to the meeting notes.

Even so, the archived document states that “regarding entry of the unauthorized persons to the dope control station,” Ljungqvist reported that a large sign had been placed after the concern was raised at the entrance to the track-and-field doping control room.

Prof. Donike told the Canadian delegation that sabotage was not consistent with the steroid profile interpreted from the failed test — meaning long-term use was detected by the endocrine profiling method Donike had pioneered.

He also acknowledged the magnitude of Johnson’s predicament. Donike, who is now deceased, said “the entire commission was perfectly aware of the implications of a positive case for such an athlete and for sport in general.”

Pound “clarified” that Johnson had a negative test just weeks earlier at a Zurich race. After that, the Canadians, including Pound, left the meeting room, and de Merode opened the floor for discussion.

Behind closed doors, Donike said a negative test before the Games “was of no consequence” and concluded “a single dose application just prior to testing could be excluded.” Donike was the commission member who didn’t want Johnson’s test challenged by analyses of his water bottle or medications, according to the archived document.

International Olympic Committee Vice President Dick Pound takes a break during a session of the IOC executive board outside IOC headquarters, in Lausanne, Switzerland, in this Dec. 10, 1999 photo.
International Olympic Committee Vice President Dick Pound takes a break during a session of the IOC executive board outside IOC headquarters, in Lausanne, Switzerland, in this Dec. 10, 1999 photo.  (AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini, Keystone)

Chairman de Merode asked for opinions in the room, including that of an IAAF representative. After that, “the Commission voted unanimously for the exclusion of Ben Johnson from the Games of the XXIVth Olympiad in Seoul.”

The commission’s recommendation, which came at about 12:45 a.m. Sept. 27, 1988, was forwarded to the IOC’s executive board later that morning. The board accepted it and Johnson was disqualified. He lost his medal and his world record of 9.79 seconds.

Thirty years later, Johnson said Pound didn’t aggressively defend him before the IOC Medical Commission.

“I believe he didn’t reach out far enough or strong enough to protect me,” Johnson said, after learning more about the report.

In fact, the report refers to the ethics of whether Pound was in a conflict. One member, Dr. Kenneth Fitch of Australia, didn’t feel it was “correct for an IOC vice-president to appear before the IOC Medical Commission in order to protect an athlete from his country.” The commission unanimously requested that de Merode speak to the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, “to ensure that such a situation did not occur in the future.”

Pound says he had previously cleared the matter with Samaranch.

In a recent phone interview, Pound said he’s never seen the Olympic Medical Commission document from 1988. He also said science made it clear that preparing any defence of Johnson in Seoul would be difficult.

“If you’re caught with the sample being analyzed containing the stanozolol metabolites, you’re dead,” Pound said.

Research by Patrick Oberli, a Swiss-based sports journalist at Le Matin Dimanche

Mary Ormsby is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Reach her via email:


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Olympic medallist Katelyn Osmond to receive Order of Newfoundland and Labrador


Figure skating champion Kaetlyn Osmond will be receiving the highest honour in her home province – the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Osmond left Marystown, N.L., for Edmonton at a young age, but her province and hometown continue to cheer for her, even re-naming the local arena after her in 2014.

READ: Fans and skaters welcome Olympic medallist Kaetlyn Osmond back to Edmonton

She and artist Christopher Pratt were among 10 people named today as recipients of the order, granted for “excellence and achievement” to former and current residents of the province.

They will be inducted at a Jan. 29 ceremony.

The Olympic bronze medallist and world figure skating champion was greeted with a parade when she visited Marystown in April, meeting with young skaters and performing at the arena.

WATCH: Olympic medallist Kaetlyn Osmond arrives back in Edmonton

Dominic Lundrigan was arena manager when Osmond first laced up her skates as a kid and he recalled an enthusiastic young athlete who always pushed herself to skate faster and jump higher.

Lundrigan called Osmond the “pride and pleasure” of the small town and said her visits always lift local residents’ spirits.


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Calgary Olympic bid meets its end with city council vote


CALGARY—City council put the final nail in the Olympic bid’s coffin Monday.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve several recommendations that officially end the process of pursuing a bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

Calgary city council made the final decision on the Calgary Olympic bid Monday.
Calgary city council made the final decision on the Calgary Olympic bid Monday.  (Charlie Riedel / The Associated Press)

The recommendations include dismantling council’s Olympic assessment committee chaired by Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley, stopping the process of negotiating a multi-party agreement with other orders of government and offering a final thank you to the people involved in working on the bid.

The decision follows last week’s plebiscite results that showed 56 per cent of Calgarians against the idea of hosting the Games again. That vote saw about 40 per cent voter turnout.

Read more:

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who supported the Yes Calgary 2026 campaign, said he was disappointed to see the results fall on the “no” side, but he noted the plebiscite results were “quite conclusive.”

“While disappointed in the result, I think we can be very proud of everything we did to get here,” he said.

He said he doesn’t agree with the idea that city council put “all its eggs in the Olympic basket” but added that not getting the affordable housing commitment the Olympic bid may have delivered is a loss.

The motion council passed also requests several reports related to the bid process. One is aimed at describing the value from the work done by the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, which undertook an early examination of whether the city should pursue another bid.

Another will outline the total cost to the city on the 2026 Olympic bid project. City manager Jeff Fielding said he expects to deliver it early in 2019.

More to come …

Madeline Smith is a reporter/photographer with StarMetro Calgary. Follow her on Twitter: @meksmith


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Olympic champ among curling foursome booted from bonspiel for being ‘extremely drunk’


The curling foursome of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby was kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic on Sunday for « unacceptable behaviour » that included being « extremely drunk. »

The four were ejected from the World Curling Tour event and forced to forfeit their final match.

After receiving numerous complaints from opponents and spectators, the tournament committee at the Red Deer Curling Centre was compelled to intervene.

« They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing and just unacceptable behaviour that nobody wants to watch or hear or listen to and it was just ‘enough was enough,' » facility manager Wade Thurber told CBC Sports.

« There was some damage in the locker room and other teams complaining about their stuff being kicked around in the locker room. So at the end of the day, it was like ‘OK, that’s enough of this gong show.’ The committee for the bonspiel collectively decided that we needed to remove them from the spiel for this year and what happens down the road, I’m not sure yet. »

However, a sign was placed on the main board of the arena to make it clear that a decision had been made to remove Koe’s team from the competition and all future events at the club.

« We did that because we had so many complaints from other players and teams, not to mention the spectators, and so we wanted them to know that we did something about it, » said Thurber. 

« We had people taking pictures of the sign and also lots of people telling us we did the right thing. When you have people complaining like that, there is a need to do something, right? »

Olympic champ apologizes for ’embarrassing’ actions 

Fry, who is normally a third on Brad Jacobs’ team, was serving as a spare with Koe’s team at the event. He lives in Calgary while the rest of the team curls out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and says a bad lapse in judgment affected the experience for others.

« I would like to sincerely apologize to the fans, participants and organizers of the Red Deer Curling Classic, » Fry said in a statement to CBC Sports.

« I came to the event to play and enjoy the sport. My actions were truly disrespectful and embarrassing — the committee was right to disqualify us from play. »

Fry won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as a member of Team Canada along with Jacobs, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden and alternate Caleb Flaxey. He’s played in 10 Briers and won both the national title and world championship in 2013.

« I allowed myself to lose control and I offended people with my actions. I wish nothing more than to apologize to everyone individually, » Fry said.

« I will be taking proper steps to ensure this problem can never happen again and I will strive to become a better version of myself while contributing positively to the sport and curling community that I love so much. »

Thurber, who said he « probably did them a favour » by kicking them out, admits he may have worded his notice harshly as far as Team Koe’s future at the event, but said it was important to deliver a stern message.

« Maybe the wording wasn’t quite right on that paper. At the end of the day, we put it up because we wanted all the spectators and the curlers to know that we’ve done something about it, because there was quite a bit of backlash, getting lots of complaints and everyone saying the same thing that we needed to get them out of here, » Thurber said.

« Then people were commenting and saying ‘I suppose they just have to apologize and they’re back in next year.’ So we kind of said it in a way that there’s no guarantee that’s what’s going to happen — an apology may no cut it. » 

Thurber added that the event committee was asked by the World Curling Tour to file a formal complaint. 


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‘The people have spoken’: Calgary mayor confirms 2026 Olympic dream is dead after vote


Calgarians have voted against a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The No side won with 56.4 per cent of the vote, according to unofficial result of the non-binding plebiscite.

A total of 304,774 people cast ballots across the city, with 171,750 voting against a bid and 132,832 in favour of the Games. According to the city, 46,620 people voted in the advance polls and 8,001 mail-in ballots were received. 

By comparison, 387,582 people had voted at the end of last fall’s election. That was equal to a 58 per cent voter turnout, according to Elections Calgary. 

The official result will be made available at 3 p.m. Friday, with results by riding posted Thursday at noon.

The result means a loss of $700 million in funding from Alberta for the Games — as the money was contingent on the outcome of the plebiscite — but the bid still faces an official vote by city council before the bid corporation is officially dissolved.

« The people have spoken, the people have spoken in big numbers, and the people have spoken clearly. And this is very clear direction for where we go from here, » said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who added he was personally disappointed in the result.

Nenshi said council will vote Monday, likely in favour of suspending the bid.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi confirmed he will not be supporting the Olympic bid going forward, given the results of Tuesday night’s plebiscite. (CBC)

The plebiscite result came after weeks of acrimonious debate that played out both in the council chambers and across the city.

On Oct. 30, a funding proposal finally arrived, months later than expected. The following day, council voted to halt the process, but fell just short of the super-majority requirement, allowing it to limp forward for two weeks until to the plebiscite.

But, Nenshi said he disagrees that Olympic talks were divisive.

« A lot of folks have said this has been a divisive conversation for Calgary and I gotta tell you, I reject that thinking. Because what we had is passionate people talking about the future of the community, » he said.

Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda said in an emailed statement the province would respect Calgarians’ decision.

« Today was a success because Calgarians were given the opportunity to have their say on whether to proceed with an Olympic bid. This decision was never an easy one, » he wrote.

Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran, centre, and Yes Calgary 2026 organizer Jason Ribeiro embrace following the Olympic bid plebiscite result announcement Tuesday evening. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

The bid corporation said in the statement it would begin to wrap up operations and prepare final accounting reports to its three government funding partners, as well as compile material that could be used in a possible future bid for a major sporting event.

« The Olympic motto states that ‘the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle,' » said Mary Moran, CEO of the Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation, in an emailed statement.

Moran said it had been a challenge trying to get the three levels of government aligned on funding expectations.

« I wish we did it sooner but we did the best we could with what we were dealt, » she told media following the result announcement.

A Calgarian arrives to vote in a plebiscite on whether the city should proceed with a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, in on Nov. 13. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Coun. Jeff Davison, one of the bid’s supporters, wrote on Facebook given the plebiscite result, he would not be supporting the bid going forward.

« I think people have had enough of this establishment telling us what to do, and what to think, » added Coun. Sean Chu, a prominent opponent of the bid.

The province spent $2 million hosting the plebiscite, and $10 million was spent on the bid out of a $30 million pool from the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

Members of the Yes campaign react to the results of a plebiscite on whether Calgary should proceed with a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics on Tuesday evening. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Bid corporation board chair Scott Hutcheson thanked volunteers and athletes that championed the bid, as well as the three level of governments for funding that got the bid this far.

« If we didn’t try to do this, shame on us. We did our best, » said Hutcheson.

« I think what we need to do today is reflect on what went right, what went wrong, go back to the drawing board. »

With Calgary likely out of the running, that leaves just Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in the running for the 2026 Winter Games.

Bids will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee in January, with a host city being chosen in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June.

The plebiscite was the first time in a Calgary election that electronic vote tabulating machines were used, instead of hand-counting ballots. 


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Calgarians reject 2026 Olympic bid in citywide plebiscite


CALGARY—It has had many close calls and near misses, but Calgary’s Olympic bid faces an all-but-certain end after Tuesday’s vote.

A majority 56.4 per cent of voters cast their ballots against continuing with a bid for the 2026 Winter Games in Calgary’s plebiscite in results announced a little before 10 p.m, with more than 300,000 votes counted.

Tears follow the Tuesday night announcement that Calgarians voted 56.4 per cent against the city making a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Tears follow the Tuesday night announcement that Calgarians voted 56.4 per cent against the city making a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.  (Christina Ryan / StarMetro Calgary)

Because the funds the provincial and federal governments offered for the cost of hosting are conditional on a “yes” in the mandated plebiscite, the bid almost certainly won’t go on from here. City council still must make the move to stop work on the bid official.

The decision follows a majority of Calgary city councillors voting in favour of stopping the bid process two weeks ago, with Ward 8 Councillor and Olympic assessment committee chair Evan Woolley submitting a series of recommendations that included cancelling the plebiscite. That move ultimately failed because it didn’t clear the higher required threshold of 10 council votes.

Woolley said he doesn’t feel that council presented a funding deal that was good enough or timely enough for Calgarians to have enough information to make a decision.

“The recommendations will look very, very similar to the ones I moved two weeks ago,” he said.

“There’s a number of administrative things we have to do, but the motion will be quite simple, and then there will be work behind the scenes.”

Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas described the vote as a “come-from-behind victory” for the “no” side.

“It’s been a real David versus Goliath on steroids when you think of the resources available to promote the ‘yes’ side of the bid,” he said.

Yes Calgary blanketed the city with campaign materials over the last week, including lawn signs, advertisements and robocalls, some featuring Mayor Naheed Nenshi describing the reasons he is a “yes” vote.

Meanwhile, the No Calgary Olympics campaign held a rally at Olympic Plaza on Saturday urging Calgarians to vote against the bid, but they had comparably fewer volunteers and resources to work with.

No Calgary Olympics organizer Erin Waite said she views the results as a sign that Calgarians thought seriously about the potential risks that come with hosting the Games.

“A ‘no’ vote says that they saw the excitement of hosting the Olympic Games and the fun that that event could drive, but weighed that against all the other factors that are important to consider,” she said.

The Calgary Olympic Bid Corp. estimates the cost of hosting the Games in Calgary at $5.1 billion, with the city, province and federal government contributing $2.875 billion.

That budget, and a subsequent cost-sharing proposal, came after BidCo originally set the cost of hosting at $5.2 billion, with $3 billion coming from public funds — but after a negotiating deadlock and Woolley’s move to cancel the plebiscite, a late-night funding proposal revived the bid process.

According to a funding proposal currently on the table, Calgary would pay $370 million in cash, plus an additional $20 million to purchase an insurance policy. The provincial government has committed $700 million, and Ottawa will pay about $1.4 billion if Calgary’s hosting bid succeeds.

Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu, who has been a vocal opponent of the Olympic bid, welcomed the plebiscite results.

“Congratulations, Calgarians. Your common sense prevailed,” he said.

Chu said he continues to believe that hosting is bad for the city’s finances.

“It’s like your household: you already have the debt of your mortgage. And (on the ‘yes’ side), it’s like, ‘Let’s go buy a Ferrari.’

“Is this how you run your finances? I don’t think so.”

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, who lent his voice to the “yes” campaign in the days leading up to the vote, said he thinks the city still needs to consider how to effectively present itself to the world.

“If we’re not using the Olympic Games to do that, we’re going to have to do that anyway. The conversation becomes: how do we do that in a meaningful way?” he said.

He added that challenges remain without the Olympic bid, including figuring out a way to boost the stock of affordable housing in Calgary and upgrading the sport venues left from the 1988 Games — two benefits that BidCo said would come from hosting in 2026.

Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating said he also worries about what the plan is to upgrade the city’s sport infrastructure without the Olympics.

“All of the renovations to McMahon Stadium, BMO Centre, Olympic Oval, Canada Olympic Park, none of that will happen,” he said.

The 2026 draft hosting plan also proposed to build a new mid-sized arena and field house for Calgary. The latter project has been a city infrastructure priority for years, but has remained unfunded.

“The field house — which is an absolute shame we don’t have one yet — will still have to be funded at some point in time,” Keating said.

Two other bids are currently in the running for the 2026 Games: Stockholm, Sweden and a joint bid from the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina. The deadline for submitting bid books to the International Olympic Committee is in January 2019, and the final host city decision is slated for June.

Madeline Smith is a reporter/photographer with StarMetro Calgary. Follow her on Twitter: @meksmith


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Over 54,000 cast ballots in Calgary Olympic bid plebiscite advance poll – Calgary


The numbers are in and they are impressive. After two days of advanced voting and mail-in ballots, 54,409 people have voted in the plebiscite on whether Calgary should bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Olympic plebiscite vote for bid ‘doesn’t necessarily mean yes at all costs’: Calgary mayor

“[It] really is 50 per cent plus one, that is how it plays out, that is what the feds and provincial governments have suggested they are looking at, but I would like to see a strong mandate either way,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

Nenshi says the polls appear very close.

“But like every election campaign, it’s critical that people vote.  Certainly, the polls I have seen are very tight.  It all depends on who comes out to vote,” he said.

To learn more about how you can cast a vote in the plebiscite on Nov. 13, visit our Calgary Olympic Vote page.

City council will take the plebiscite results and consider whether to move forward with hosting the 2026 Olympics on Nov. 19.

How hosting the Paralympic Games in 2026 could impact accessibility in Calgary

WATCH: What does Calgary’s Olympic advance polling turnout mean for the bid’s future?

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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30 years after Calgary ’88, will the Olympic legacy be renewed?


It’s been more than 30 years since the wonder of the Calgary Olympics.

Hard to fathom, but they survive as arguably the greatest Winter Games of all time.

The cast of characters is unrivalled and the fame of those athletes, in many cases, transcended sport.

A number of the champions from Calgary remain iconic figures and still have a lustre in spite of the passage of time.

Think of it: alpine skiing boasted the hot-blooded Alberto « La Bomba » Tomba of Italy. He won double gold by taking the technical events — the giant slalom and the slalom.

But perhaps more intriguing was the fact that his passion ran wild for champion figure skater, Katarina Witt of Germany, who performed seductively to Georges Bizet’s « Carmen » on the way to capturing a gold medal over her skating rival Debi Thomas of the United States who ironically also skated to music from « Carmen. »

« In 1988, the stars shone bright, » said four-time world figure skating champion Kurt Browning, who made the first of his three Olympic appearances in Calgary.

« Tomba was chasing Katarina and trying to charm her. It felt so very strange to just get in my car and drive a few hours to the Olympics when in my head I always thought of the Olympics as being in some far-off, snow-driven land. »

Witt recalls the satisfaction of the gold medal she won in 1988, becoming the only female singles skater to repeat as Olympic champion since Sonje Henie of Norway won three gold medals in a row more than half a century before.

Watch Katarina Witt reminisce about the Calgary Games:

Representing East Germany, the figure skater captured gold, making her the first repeat women’s champion since 1936. 3:12

But for Witt, the magic of Calgary was about much more than a personal victory.

« There was such a warm welcome from the Canadians, » she said. « It was so wonderful that the Olympics were in a country where they love sport…where they love winter sport and especially where they love figure skating. »

Rocketing in between Witt and Thomas, Canadian underdog Elizabeth Manley of Ottawa captured lightning in a bottle and the silver medal in Calgary.

She very nearly stood atop the podium on a famous night where she donned a Stetson after her once-in-a-lifetime performance. That white cowboy hat and so many others like it have become symbolic of the volunteers who worked those Games — some say the greatest force of community volunteers in Olympic history.

Watch Elizabeth Manley reflect on the ’88 Games:

The Canadian skated out of the shadows of her competitors, capturing ladies figure skating silver at the 1988 Games in Calgary. 2:40

« It’s every athlete’s dream to not only win an Olympic medal but to do it in your home country, » Manley said. « It was the cat’s meow for me. »

There were also the figure skating Brians — Boitano and Orser, who battled at the Olympic Saddledome. It was compelling stuff and the resulting drama went beyond who won and who lost.

Watch the ‘Battle of the Brians’ at the ’88 Games:

Brian Orser and Brian Boitano went toe-to-toe in the men’s free skate at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. 3:32

In the end it was sport that triumphed.

« I smile when I think of what we delivered in Calgary for the fans that people still remember 30 years later, » the silver medallist Orser said. « We left an incredible mark and one of the best rivalries ever. »

« All athletes were welcomed and celebrated, » said Tracy Wilson who won an ice dance bronze medal with her partner Rob McCall.

« The enthusiasm and warmth of the audiences and fans in Calgary made every one of us athletes believe that we were part of something much bigger than our event and our personal endeavours. »

Watch Tracy Wilson relive her Calgary triumph:

Tracy Wilson recalls winning Canada’s first Olympic medal in ice dancing, a bronze, with partner Rob McCall. 2:54

There was Matti Nykanen, the Flying Finn, who became the first ski jumper in Olympic history to capture three gold medals. But it was the unlikely Eddie « The Eagle » Edwards, a British plasterer, who won so many hearts by finishing last but who also ended up stealing the show.

« I exemplified that Olympic ideal, that Olympic spirit, » Edwards enthused. « I think that’s the most important thing and that’s what people remember. »

Watch Eddie the Eagle talk about his unlikely jump to fame:

The British ski jumper made the Olympics after starting the sport 20 months earlier, he knew he wouldn’t win a medal but his goal was simply to represent his country. 2:47

The Jamaican Bobsleigh Team rocked Calgary having partially financed their journey by selling T-shirts and reggae records.

It was a story fit for a fable.

The last of the great Soviet hockey teams triumphed, featuring a lineup which included Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Krutov, Sergei Makarov and Alexander Mogilny. All were on the cusp of becoming NHL superstars.

Alpine skier Karen Percy of nearby Banff, Alta., captured two of Canada’s modest total of five medals in 1988.

Both were third-place finishes in the speed events. But Percy, who became a local legend (not to mention a national darling), won the first Canadian medal on home snow and was the natural choice to carry the flag at the closing ceremony.

Watch Karen Percy’s dream come true:

The two-time bronze medallist was responsible for two of the five medals Canada won that year, and did it all with a broken hand. 2:58

« I was a girl with a dream and my dream came true, » Percy said tearfully as she conjured up that time in her life.

« It doesn’t seem like 30 years ago that it happened. But I still truly feel that feeling of being Canadian and having delivered something to Canadians that was really fun and magical. »

Wilson echoed Percy’s sentiments about competing at home.

« I, for one, was overcome by gratitude at having the opportunity to compete at home in an Olympics, » Wilson said. « That and I felt the privilege of being Canadian. »

There were other stars including Swiss downhill ace Pirmin Zurbriggen and the incomparable double gold medallist Gunde Svan, a Swedish cross-country skier. Everyone at the speed skating oval mourned for American favourite Dan Jansen, who fell in the sprint after learning of the death of his sister on the morning of the race.

There was so much personality to Calgary and although Canadian athletes like Percy, Gaetan Boucher, and Nordic skier Pierre Harvey garnered much of the attention they were not the only story. Canada winning the most medals was not the end game as it turned out to be in Vancouver in 2010.

« Happiness was to be at home, » Harvey concluded. « It was to be able to compete in front of, and for, Canadian citizens, friends and family. »

Watch Pierre Harvey’s reflections on competing at a ‘home’ Games:

The Quebec native became the first ever Canadian male athlete to compete in both the summer and winter Olympic Games. 3:13

« I competed at two Olympics beyond Calgary and nothing compares to the intensity of that one for me, » Browning said. « Somehow the world felt smaller and our attention more focused as people around the planet were falling in love with athletes. »

The Calgary Games are more than 30 years behind us. Their legacy has been the flourishing of a Canadian winter sports system. Facilities remain intact and well employed and the reputation of Calgary as an « Olympic City » endures.

It’s quite clear, three decades later, that through these blockbuster Olympics, Canadians developed a lasting affection with our winter fields of play and the athletes from around the globe who brought them to life in the Stampede City.

Calgary 1988 consummated a love affair between a community and sport.

Now we’ll see if that passion has been inherited by a new generation of people from Calgary.

More importantly we’ll find out if there’s a will to ensure that the legacy of those memorable and landmark Games can be renewed.


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