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Athletes stuck in sex & scandals!

Sex, alcohol and doping scandals are sapping much-needed momentum from US athletes in the run-up to the Winter Olympics.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 17:42 IST

Sex, alcohol and doping scandals coupled with a simmering controversy involving figure skating queen Michelle Kwan are sapping much-needed momentum from US athletes in the run-up to the Winter Olympics.

With the Turin Games less than a month away, the American public are transfixed by the strife and largely ignoring the competitions that decide who will make the trip to Italy.

In the middle ring of the circus is the 25-year-old Kwan, America's sentimental favourite who is desperately clinging to her dream of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Also making headlines are skeleton coach Tim Nardiello, who is accused of sexually harassing at least two female sliders, and skeleton racer Zack Lund, the overall World Cup points leader suspended for doping.

Alpine skiing champion Bode Miller, no stranger to controversy, rankled his coaches by saying on television that partying meant he had sometimes been "in really tough shape" at the start of races.

The pre-Olympic woes have made even the most staid US newspapers write more about the scandals than the competition.

The US national figure skating championships are being held this week in St. Louis without Kwan, a nine-times champion, who must petition her way on to the Olympic team.

Generally, the top three finishers in the nationals earn a berth on the Olympic squad but Kwan has been battling a groin injury and is unable to compete in St. Louis.

Normally, it would not be particularly contentious to include her in the squad but Kwan has skated very little over the last three years and has performed only once with skating's complex new scoring system.

First Published: Jan 13, 2006 11:46 IST