For two years after testing positive for human growth hormone, British rugby player Terry Newton (above), 31, who became the first athlete ever penalized for the offense. On Feb. 19, in a statement by his lawyers, Newton confirmed the results of a November blood test (administered during the off-season and with no advance notice); he was dumped afterward by his club, Wakefield. The positive test is the first of its kind and considered a breakthrough by antidoping experts, suggesting that scientists are catching up to HGH, which is thought to aid in muscle building and accelerate healing; all traces can vanish after as few as two days, and it previously had proved impervious to detection. Following Newton's revelation—and two years after Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he would support HGH testing "when a valid, commercially available and practical test ... becomes reality"—reports leaked that MLB was considering testing minor league players for the substance beginning later this year.
By President Dmitry Medvedev, that Russian sports officials (not named) step down in the wake of the nation's low medal count at the 2010 Winter Olympics. In a televised address on Monday, Medvedev said, "I think that the individuals ... who answer for these preparations should take the courageous decision to hand in their notice. If we don't see such decisiveness, we will help them." Those remarks came one day after Russia finished sixth in Vancouver, with 15 medals; only once in the past 60 years had Russia or the Soviet Union fared so poorly at an Olympic Games. Medvedev's call also came four years before his nation hosts the Winter Games. "Without messing around, we need to start preparations for Sochi," Medvedev said. "We need to completely change how we prepare our athletes."
A new procedure for overtime during the NFL playoffs. Last Saturday league spokesman Greg Aiello acknowledged that commissioner Roger Goodell was considering a rules tweak that would guarantee both teams an opportunity to score as long as the team receiving the OT kickoff did not score a touchdown on its opening drive. This past postseason, for instance, the Vikings would have had one drive to answer the field goal the Saints kicked on the first possession of OT (this year, the game-ender) in the NFC Championship Game. In late March the proposal, which the NFL is labeling "modified sudden death," will go before the competition committee, where it will need at least a two-thirds vote to pass.
By the International Gymnastics Federation, that China be stripped of a bronze medal its women won at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney after an investigation found that one gymnast, Dong Fangxiao, was 14 years old, two years younger than required, when she participated in the team all-around event. Questions about Dong's age arose from a separate investigation into the eligibility of the Chinese gymnasts who won gold in Beijing two years ago. Those athletes were cleared, but the process brought to light documents suggesting that Dong (below), who was working for the Chinese team in Beijing, had been born on Jan. 23, 1986. (Dong's blog also indicated that she was born in the Chinese Year of the Ox, in her instance dating from Feb. 20, 1985, to Feb. 8, 1986.) Dong's case now goes to the International Olympic Committee, which could officially disqualify her. If that were to occur, the United States, which finished fourth in 2000, would inherit the bronze.
At age 54, of causes undisclosed at week's end, Mosi Tatupu, a running back and special teams ace of 13 seasons who helped the Patriots to their first Super Bowl, after the 1985 season. A high school star at the prestigious Punahou School in Hawaii, where he held the state's career rushing record (3,367 yards) for 17 years, Tatupu excelled in other phases of the game on the mainland, first at USC and later with the Patriots and the Rams: He was a punishing blocker, a short-yardage beast and, belying his roots in Pago Pago, a cold-weather standout. But he made his biggest mark on special teams; on two kickoffs during the '85 postseason he forced fumbles by the Raiders and the Dolphins that were turned into touchdowns. In retirement Tatupu coached at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., where his pupils included son Lofa, now a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Seahawks.