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'Amateurs' need not apply sports plan to weed out weak


Bobsled chiefs plan to tighten qualifying standards for the Winter Olympics to weed out inexperienced drivers, and the ban on weak competitors could soon stretch to other sports in the Winter Games.

"The days of just turning up and competing are over. It doesn't work any more," said International Bobsled Federation chief Klaus Kotter.

The new rules, if adopted, could be a blow to athletes from other sports who have attempted to to undertake new challenges in winter sports.

Several top athletes such as Minnesota Vikings running back Herschel Walker and track star Edwin Moses, who has expressed a desire to add Winter gold to his Summer Games medals, have been attracted to bobsled.

But accidents involving bobs from Mexico and Jamaica -- two of the more exotic entries for this week's four-man competition -- prompted the call for tighter qualification standards.

Yesterday, the Mexican sled flipped onto its side as it was speeding out of the final turn during a practice run, trapping the crew inside as it slid into the finish chute.

Two of the crew members, Javier Pedroche, the No. 2 man, and driver Eduardo Tames, suffered shoulder injuries that will knock them out of the games.

Kotter said International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch had also been upset by an incident in Tuesday's men's giant slalom when Lebanese Raymond Kayrouz overtook Morocco's El Hassan Mahta on the slopes despite start times at 40-second intervals, because the Moroccan was skiing so slowly.

"We talked with Samaranch about the new rules yesterday," Kotter said. "There is not just likely to be a tightening-up in bob but other disciplines like skiing too."

How about instant replay?

Germany filed a protest against Canada's Olympic quarterfinal hockey victory in a penalty-shot shootout, but an official said the outcome will stand.

Canada won Tuesday's shootout, 3-2, after the score was tied 3-3 following overtime. Each team alternated taking five shots; each scored twice, so each team took one shot at a time until there was a winner.

Canada shot first throughout the shootout. Germany argued that after the first five shots, it should have gone first.

Gordon Renwick, International Ice Hockey Federation vice president, said the Germans were right, but the referee's decision prevails.

He likened the situation to a referee's judgment on whether a goal is scored.

"Do you call back a goal every time a referee makes a mistake?" Renwick said. The Germans could have protested at the time but "they hadn't done their homework either," he said.

The quote

"If we don't win medals, I'm history." Swiss coach Jan Tischauser, only half-joking about the once-powerful Swiss

Alpine team's humiliation so far in the Games.

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