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2 more athletes tested positive for marijuana use

Olympic drug officials are reporting two more positive tests for marijuana use at the Winter Games, but they won't identify the athletes or sports involved.

"We have chosen not to publicize them," said Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission.Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati temporarily lost his gold medal when he tested positive for the drug last week. His medal was reinstated when an arbitration panel said the IOC had failed to follow its own rules governing drug tests.

Rebagliati claimed the positive finding was a result of secondhand smoke and that he had not used marijuana since last April.

De Merode confirmed reports that higher levels of marijuana were found in earlier tests of Rebagliati's urine by a laboratory in Montreal. "You're absolutely correct," he said. "That case is closed. There is no point in reopening it."

Instead, he said the IOC would seek to close loopholes in its policies on marijuana.

A committee composed of IOC vice presidents De Merode, Pal Schmitt, Dick Pound and Anita DeFrantz and chaired by IOC president Juan Antonio Sam-a-ranch met recently for te first time to begin an examination of the issue.

RECORD TERRITORY: The gold and silver figure skating medals won by Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan today pushed the U.S. medal count to 13, tying the country's best-ever Winter Olympics performance set in Lillehammer in 1994.

Lipinski's gold was the sixth for the United States. The others went to Picabo Street in the super G Alpine skiing; Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone in freestyle skiing aerials; Jonny Moseley in moguls; and the women's ice hockey team.

Americans won three silvers: Kwan; Chris Thorpe and Gordy Sheer in the two-man luge; and Chris Witty in the women's 1,000-meter speed-skating.

Bronze medals went to Witty in the 1,500-meter speed-skating; Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin in the two-man luge; and Ross Powers and Shannon Dunn in the snowboarding halfpipe.

At Lillehammer, the United States won six gold, five silver and two bronze medals.

CONSPIRACY THEORY: Belarus' authoritarian leader has accused Olympics organizers of a conspiracy to undermine athletes from his nation.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who is in Nagano, Japan, because he also serves as chairman of his country's Olympic committee, said organizers were part of a "mafia collusion" aimed at competitors from Belarus and other former Soviet republics, the Interfax news agency reported.

He specifically referred to Tuesday's decision to terminate the men's 10-kilometer biathlon race because of bad weather after the first athletes had already started.

He said the decision was made because organizers saw that "Belarusian, Russian and Latvian (athletes) were doing better," and their own athletes had no chance of winning.

"I could see with my own eyes this outrageous injustice," Interfax quoted Lukashenko as saying in Nagano.

Organizers said they stopped the biathlon because heavy snow and fog limited visibility. Some had finished the course, but organizers said the changing weather conditions had made it unfair to the later starters.

The skier who was ahead at the time the race was stopped, Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway, ended up winning the gold medal.

Belarus so far has won two bronze medals. Dmitry Dashchinsky won one in freestyle aerials on Wednesday, and Alexei Aidarov captured the other in the 20-kilometer biathlon on Feb. 11.

RATINGS GAME: The women's figure skating competition, the crown jewel of the Winter Olympics television package, began Wednesday night to less than spectacular ratings.

The show, which featured the one-two finish by Americans Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, gave CBS a 20.7 rating/32 share. While that is the highest rating from Nagano so far, it trailed the 48.5/64 from Lillehammer by 57 percent and the 22.8 from Albertville by 9 percent.

The women's skating from Lillehammer, featuring Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, was the third highest-rated show in history.

After 13 nights of coverage, CBS is averaging a 16.5/27, 42 percent behind the 28.2/42 from Lillehammer and 16 percent below the 19.6/30 from Albertville.

CBS is on track to post the lowest Winter Olympic ratings since ABC's 13.5 from Grenoble in 1968. But the network has easily beat its competition since the beginning of the Olympics. NBC has averaged an 8.4/13 in prime time, Fox is at 7.7/12 and ABC is at 7.4/12.

HIT PARADE: The Nagano Olympics home page registered more than 100,000 hits a minute after Japan's ski jumping team won gold, organizing committee spokesman Ko Yamaguchi said.

Yamaguchi added that the home page has had a total 400 million hits.

"This is a world record," he said.

Japan's jumpers came from behind after the first round to win the team event Tuesday afternoon. The victory was easily the most cheered of Japan's four golds so far in the games.

You heard right:

"The Olympics is, `Get a medal or be a statistic.' I guess I'm a statistic."

-U.S. skier Kristina Koznick on her disappointing finish in the women's slalom.

Fact is:

Apples, one of the top crops in the Nagano Prefecture (state) are a breakfast staple in the athletes and media villages. The prefecture produces about 200,000 tons of apples yearly.