Backstrom to get medal
Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom will receive an Olympic silver medal despite being forced to miss last month’s final in Sochi due to a doping offense, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday. Although the IOC did not confirm at the time that Backstrom had failed a drugs test, Swedish officials pulled him out of the final after being told that he had been shown to be carrying a high level of the stimulant pseudoephedrine (PSE). The IOC was criticized for its handling of the case and Sweden lost the final 3-0 to Canada. Backstrom, one of Sweden’s top players, said he appreciated the IOC decision. “While I will always be disappointed that I wasn’t able to play in the gold medal game with my fellow countrymen, I’m pleased that my name has been cleared by the IOC,” Backstrom, who plays for the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, said in a statement.
Smith, Ravens sign deal
Longtime standout wide receiver Steve Smith did not waste time finding a new home, signing a three-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens about 24 hours after being released by the Carolina Panthers. The Ravens announced the signing of the 34-year-old Smith on Friday. He was released by the Panthers after 13 seasons. In other moves on another busy day of NFL free agency, linebacker Brandon Spikes agreed to a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills and veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan and guard Shelley Smith signed deals with the Miami Dolphins. Steve Smith said he had a contract offer from the San Diego Chargers and canceled a visit with the New England Patriots scheduled for Monday.
TV dance next for Purdy
On the snow during the morning, then dancing in the afternoon, Amy Purdy had a strenuous routine in Sochi. And one the US snowboarder was only too happy to put herself through. After years of pushing for her sport’s inclusion in the Paralympics came the reward: A bronze medal in the inaugural event at the Winter Games on Friday. That medal could soon be joined at home in Colorado by a sparkly mirror-ball trophy. Purdy is due in a Los Angeles television studio tomorrow as the first double amputee to take part in ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. To prepare for potentially several weeks of samba, tango and cha-cha-cha, pro dancer Derek Hough flew to Russia to perfect their ballroom bond.
Langer leads Toshiba Classic
Bernhard Langer birdied three of the last four holes for an eight-under 63 and a two-stroke lead on Friday after the first round of the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, California. Langer, the 2008 winner, had eight birdies in his bogey-free round at Newport Beach Country Club. The 56-year-old German won the season-opening event in Hawaii in January for his 19th victory on the 50-and-over tour. Fred Couples, the 2010 Toshiba Classic champion, shot a 65, along with Jeff Hart and Taiwan’s Chien Soon-lu. Couples bogeyed the par-four 16th to drop out of a share of the lead, but matched Langer with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 18th. Last month in Florida, Langer tied for seventh in Boca Raton and tied for second in Naples. He has broken par in all 10 of his rounds this season and 19 of his last 20. The German topped the first-round leaderboard on Friday for the 18th time in his career. In the first 17, he has gone on to win six times.