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  • Vancouver View: Doping Lab Solution Near, Ticket Sale, Women's Ski Jumping Heads to Court


    VANOC CEO John Furlong at the May 21 news conference. (ATR/B. Mackin)  
    The Vancouver 2010 anti-doping laboratory site was discussed but not decided when VANOC directors met behind closed doors on May 21.

    "We're closing in on a solution," said VANOC CEO John Furlong, adding that it would be a local solution.

    The announcement of a site was expected last fall. In February, VANOC told the IOC Coordination Commission that it wanted to airlift athletes’ urine and blood samples to a Montreal lab during the Games.

    Executive vice-president of sport Cathy Priestner Allinger said later that VANOC will not use two childrens’ hospitals that had been in negotiations to host the facility. She wouldn’t discuss which local sites are the new frontrunners.

    Representatives of Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, which govern nearly all public hospitals in the Lower Mainland, said their facilities are not candidates. Cantest and B.C. Biomedical, two of the province's biggest private drug testing labs, were rejected.

    Priestner Allinger said VANOC has strict financial and technical needs. The lab needs to be conveniently located on stable ground, away from railway tracks, for instance.

    "We are really close to landing on the one that's going to work best for us," she said.

    Tickets Earlier; Torch Route Later

    VANOC directors decided to put 2010 Winter Olympics tickets on sale on Friday, Oct. 3, eight days earlier than planned. The original on sale date, through, was Saturday, Oct. 11. The first phase closes Nov. 7.

    The torch relay route, originally expected this fall, may not be announced until one-year countdown festivities in February. "We have to pick the right time," Furlong said. "The volume of activity and announcements is extraordinary."

    Bus Bits Gameday, a traffic management services company, this week opened an office in Vancouver to develop business in Canada. Lisa Freedman, who organized entertainment and hospitality events for the Super Bowl and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, will work as project administrator for bus systems management.

    Gameday president Tony Vitrano, Freedman and several VANOC employees met with Canadian bus company representatives on May 12 and gave them until May 30 to offer fleet, driver and rate information.

    VANOC executive vice-president of transportation Terry Wright said VANOC may charge ticketholders for transportation to venues.

    Jumping into Court

    Women's Ski Jumping USA has taken its 2010 campaign to British Columbia Supreme Court.

    Ex-Salt Lake City mayor Deedee Corradini, the driving force behind the group, teamed up with Vancouver lawyer Ross Clark to file a lawsuit May 21 charging VANOC with breaching the Canadian constitution by excluding women’s ski jumping from the 2010 Games.

    "These facilities are being built and these Games are being put on by the government and they’re bound, by the course of doing that, to offer it to women, as well as to men," Clark said.

    The IOC decided in 2006 to add only skicross to the 2010 sport menu. It rejected six other sports, including women’s ski jumping which was deemed unfit for 2010 because it didn’t meet the IOC's technical criteria.

    Furlong said VANOC will do whatever the IOC requires, but declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    "We haven’t received any documentation at this point," Furlong said.

    Plaintiffs include six of the top 10 internationally
    Women's Ski Jumping USA filed a lawsuit to get a spot at the Olympics.  
    ranked women's ski jumpers. No athletes on the Canadian women’s ski jumping team are plaintiffs. They’re opting instead to let federal sport secretary Helena Guergis lobby the IOC on their behalf. Guergis took up the cause after settling a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

    "We’re pursuing our own path," said team spokeswoman Nina Reid. Clark’s clientele includes tobacco giant Philip Morris. Corradini said she was unaware of the companies he defends, including Philip Morris, but she said it is not an issue.

    Meanwhile, Corradini convinced the U.S.-based Ski Channel cable TV service to telecast women's ski jumping events.


    ...VANOC’s rainy day fund for construction overruns decreased to $21.6 million after the board authorized a $2 million withdrawal to buy aboriginal art for venues.

    ..The Whistler Sliding Centre will open for public tours in July, but visitors will have to pay $5 each to see the $104.9 million Whistler Sliding Centre up close. The revenue will fund pre-Games operations.

    ...More than 45,000 volunteer applications have been received since the Feb. 12 launch. Ninety-two percent of applicants are Canadian.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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