Russian doping cases worry IOC's president

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia --- International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge urged Russia on Monday to get tougher on drug cheats, voicing his concern at the high number of doping cases among Russian biathletes and cross-country skiers.

Rogge said he raised the matter in recent meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian sports officials, urging them to get tougher in the fight against doping.

Several Russian biathletes and cross-country skiers have been suspended for using banned blood boosting drugs.

Rogge spoke Monday, four days before the start of the Vancouver Olympics. The IOC is conducting a record 2,000 drug tests during the Games, a record for the Winter Olympics.

Canadian confidence: Manuel Osborne-Paradis isn't shying away from the attention and high expectations of an entire nation as the Canadian Alpine ski team prepares for the Games.

What began as a mundane, happy to be here-themed news conference quickly turned into a show of confidence by a team eager to make the most of its home-slope advantage.

When asked about the favorite in the men's downhill at Whistler on Saturday, Osborne-Paradis pointed to himself.

"I think I've got a big advantage, because I'm skiing fast right now," he said.

As the overall buzz in Canada grows as the games draw near, there's additional attention being paid to the Alpine team, and Osborne-Paradis in specific.

A two-time winner on the World Cup circuit already this season, Osborne-Paradis has a chance to become the first Canadian skier to win an Olympic medal since Edi Podivinsky won bronze at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.

And no Canadian athlete won a gold medal in the two previous Olympics held in Canada -- the Montreal Summer Games in 1976 and Calgary Winter Games in '88.

TORCH BEARERS: Arnold Schwarzenegger will hand the Olympic torch off to Sebastian Coe on Friday morning, the day of the opening ceremony.

The California governor and the two-time Olympic gold medalist runner were revealed as torch relay participants along with several famous Canadians, including the father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky .

"Clearly we want to have a big finish," said John Furlong , the CEO of the Vancouver organizing committee.

Besides Walter Gretzky , other notable relay runners include astronaut Julie Payette , singer Jann Arden and former hockey player Richard Brodeur .

The 106-day relay is closing in on Vancouver, where a protest is planned for Friday just hours before the opening ceremony.

"If we have people who decide to come to the route to express their view, this won't be new. We hope it's respectful," Furlong said. "If we have a few challenges they will be managed professionally."

The organizing committee's executive vice president, Dave Cobb, said they have notified the IOC of the protest possibility.

"We told them what we expect and security is telling us that the protests that may occur are expected to be peaceful and within the law," Cobb said. "If they are then we're fine with it, but the security forces are prepared to react if people break the law."


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