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Doctors Diagnose Hole in Defeated U.S. Boxer’s Lung

By Ben Shpigel, August 11, 2008, BEIJING Olympics — Two days after a United States boxer collapsed trying to make weight before his Olympic debut, another member of the team lost his opening match while fighting with what a team doctor called a tiny hole in his right lung. Javier Molina, a light welterweight, said he felt sluggish and weak after losing soundly to his Bulgarian opponent Sunday night.

The 18-year-old Molina could not match the speed and skill of Boris Georgiev, an Olympic bronze medalist, and lost in a 14-1 decision. In discussing why Molina was overmatched, the United States coach Dan Campbell suggested that part of the reason stemmed from the hole that was discovered Saturday morning.

“I felt I was too slow,” Molina said after the fight, but before his condition was revealed. “By the time I was in, he was out and he counterpunched.”

Dr. Bill Kuprevich, the team’s chief physician, said that the cause of the hole remained unclear, but that Molina’s health was not in danger. The hole was too small, Kuprevich said, for radiologists to detect its location, though its effects had prevented Molina from engaging in full workouts for the past two days. Campbell said Molina was not cleared to box until 8 p.m. Saturday.

“He did the best he could,” Campbell said. “I think after the first round, it affected him a lot. It was a big difference to Javi tonight.”

The American team already had shrunk to eight boxers after the bantamweight Gary Russell Jr., one of the United States’ best medal hopes, was disqualified Friday after collapsing in a final effort to reach 119 pounds before the morning’s mandatory weigh-in. The team nearly dropped to seven Saturday: Campbell said he considered pulling Molina out of the match, but doctors ran tests that cleared him to fight.

Molina was held out of training Friday after complaining of shortness of breath and a sore throat. He participated in the opening ceremony that evening, and Kuprevich said Molina had told him Saturday morning that he had rested sporadically during the procession.

After apparently feeling worse, Molina had an electrocardiogram, which came back normal, and a strep culture, which came back positive. Kuprevich said a chest X-ray revealed evidence of an air leak. Such leaks, which Kuprevich called “fairly common,” are usually formed in two ways: by blunt trauma, which he ruled out, or by infection. But he considered it a leap to say that strep played a role. He also stressed that Molina’s lung did not collapse.

“This should heal on its own,” Kuprevich said.

The condition, which Kuprevich described as subcutaneous emphysema, occurs when air trickles into tissues beneath the skin in the neck and/or chest, according to Dr. Peter Hamm, a Washington-based specialist in pulmonary diseases. In Molina’s case, it settled by his neck and right shoulder.

“This can happen to otherwise healthy, young people,” Dr. Hamm said in a telephone interview. “It’s not an uncommon condition. But it’s usually seen from people who are on ventilators or who are very sick. In and of itself, it is not dangerous. But it can become very severe as a cosmetic nightmare, blowing up your face and your body like a Michelin man.”

Molina struggled from the outset of his match, falling behind, 6-0, after one round. By the time he scored his first point, roughly 30 seconds into the second of four rounds, he had been trailing, 8-0. When the match ended, Molina shuffled by his corner dejectedly before pulling off his headgear, revealing a freshly cut mohawk.

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Spanish Cyclist Tests Positive for EPO

By Katie Thomas, August 11, 2008, BEIJING OLYMPICS – A Spanish cyclist has been barred from the Olympics after testing positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO in the first doping violation of the Beijing Games.

Maria Isabel Moreno, a road cyclist, was tested July 31 in the athlete’s village and left China before learning of the results, according to Giselle Davies, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee. EPO is popular among cyclists because it increases the blood’s ability to use oxygen.

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Andrea Baldini at the 2007 European championships. (Dirk Waem/AFP/Getty Images)

WORLD NO. 1 FENCER OUT ON DOPING The latest drug dropout: World No. 1 foil fencer Andrea Baldini of Italy. He tested positive for a banned diuretic after the World Fencing Championships in Kiev last month. “I hope that the counter-analysis clears him,” said Giorgio Scarso, president of the Italian Fencing Federation, referring to awaited results on the second urine sample. “As they say, hope dies last.”

CYCLIST OUT ON DOPING TOO Italian Riccardo Ricco was officially dropped by the Italian Olympic federation after being ejected last month from the Tour de France, where he won two stages, for taking banned substances. He was also the runner up at the Giro d’Italia. Ricco has owned up to his actions. “What I did during the Tour is done — I made a mistake and the mistake is only mine,” he said at a tribunal in Rome.