Lance Armstrong loses an Olympic medal

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Lance Armstrong loses an Olympic medal

From Comcast SportsNetLONDON (AP) -- Thirteen years after he stood on the podium in Sydney, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics because of doping.The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Armstrong on Wednesday night asking him to return the medal, just as it said it planned to do last month.The decision was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press.The IOC executive board discussed revoking the medal in December, but delayed a decision until cycling's governing body notified Armstrong he had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998. He then had 21 days to appeal.Now that the deadline has expired, the IOC decided to take the medal away. The letter to Armstrong was also sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which would collect the medal."Having had confirmation from UCI that Armstrong has not appealed the decision to disqualify him from Sydney, we have written to him to ask for the return of the bronze medal," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. "We have also written to USOC to inform them of the decision."The move was confirmed on the same day that Armstrong's admission of using performance-enhancing drugs -- after years of denials -- is to be broadcast in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The timing of the IOC move, however, was not related to the TV interview.Two months after winning his second Tour de France title in 2000, Armstrong took the bronze in Sydney in the road time trial behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany.The IOC opened a disciplinary case in November after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread doping by Armstrong and his teammates. The report called it the most sophisticated doping program in sports.The IOC will not reallocate Armstrong's bronze medal, just as cycling's ruling body decided not to declare any winners for the Tour titles once held by the American. Spanish rider Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth in Sydney, will not be upgraded and the bronze medal will be left vacant in Olympic records.In August, the IOC stripped Tyler Hamilton, a former Armstrong teammate, of his time-trial gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics after he acknowledged doping. In that case, Ekimov was upgraded to gold.The IOC is also investigating Levi Leipheimer, a former Armstrong teammate who won the time-trial bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. The American confessed to doping as part of his testimony against Armstrong in the USADA case.The IOC is looking into the details of Leipheimer's admitted doping, including when the cheating took place, before moving to strip his medal. Finishing fourth behind Leipheimer in 2008 was Alberto Contador, the Spaniard who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title after testing positive for clenbuterol.

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

Stevens on Thomas' groin injury: 'It’s important that he’s 100 percent'

There’s no such thing as a good time to have an injury. 

But in terms of Isaiah Thomas being sidelined with a right groin injury and the schedule awaiting the Boston Celtics … this is about as bad a time as you can imagine to be without their scoring leader.

Thomas returned to Boston ahead of tonight’s game at Orlando, marking his first game missed since the 2014-2015 season. 

He suffered a right groin injury in the second quarter of Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston on Monday. 

At the time, Thomas was optimistic that he would be able to play tonight. But with a day off from practice, the soreness proved to be too much for Thomas to suit up and play tonight. 

While it’s unclear just how severe his groin injury is, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious (like they are with most injuries) about his return which may result in him missing more games than Wednesday night’s matchup against Orlando. 

“Those things (groin injuries) are a little unpredictable,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier today. “Especially in this sport, you have to be able to stop and change direction on a dime, especially him. It’s important that he’s 100 percent.”

Stevens is spot-on when he talks about how uncertain a return for Thomas is currently. 

New York’s Kristaps Porzingis suffered a groin injury against the Celtics in a preseason game back in October that didn’t result in anything more than him missing a day of practice. 

It was a different story when Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic suffered a right groin injury last spring (March 7-29) that sidelined him for 13 games. 

The timetable for Thomas’ return to the floor is likely to fall somewhere within those two timetables which would make an already daunting stretch of games even more difficult. 

Following tonight’s game, Boston has 12 games remaining in the month of December with nine being against teams with a winning record. And of the three games against teams below-.500 (Miami twice, Indiana), two of them are on the road. 

Marcus Smart will get start for Celtics for injured Isaiah Thomas

Marcus Smart will get start for Celtics for injured Isaiah Thomas

As expected, Marcus Smart will get the start for the Boston Celtics tonight against the Orlando Magic in place of the injured Isaiah Thomas. 

Thomas, who leads the Celtics (12-9) in scoring (26.0) and assists (6.2) this season, suffered a right groin injury in Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston on Monday.

Head coach Brad Stevens explained his decision a few minutes ago.

“He’s started a lot of games here in the past as a point guard,” Stevens told reporters. “He’s basically our sixth starter. It wasn’t one that I had to think a ton about.”

Starting Smart also allows second-year guard Terry Rozier to continue in his role coming off the bench. 

Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Smart’s production has been consistent. 

In the five games he has started this season, he has averaged 10.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. 

His numbers off the bench are almost identical with Smart averaging 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a reserve. 

Stevens also mentioned that Amir Johnson would be back in the starting lineup in place of Jonas Jerebko. Earlier in the day, Stevens told reporters the decision to start Jerebko on Monday was strictly because of the matchup with Houston. 

“We have to be able to be flexible in doing that,” Stevens said. “Houston plays four guards. We didn’t feel like we could defend them unless we switch one through four. I thought he (Jerebko) did a pretty good job. This (Orlando) team is different than Houston other than both are super-hot.”

Orlando (10-12) has won four of its last five games in part because of its size, strength and versatility along the frontline which includes Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic who now comes off the bench. 

And while the Celtics have benefited heavily from the play of their guards, obviously that plan will be amended tonight with Thomas out. 

“He (Thomas) generates a lot in the open offense what we call flow, spread offense,” Stevens said. “So some of those type of things you may not generate at the same rate. But certainly there are other ways that we’ll look to play when he’s not in the game normally, or when we’re trying to play through bigs in the post. You have different ways to play within all your schemes. Hopefully we can play to each other’s strengths and go from there.”