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Drug-testing pause during pandemic raises questions about Olympics

Olympic athletes were not subject to the usual, rigorous standards of the world anti-doping code during the 16-month period leading to the Games, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Why it matters: For approximately three months during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, virtually all drug-testing programs were suspended, which may have opened the door for athletes to engage in performance-enhancing drug use, AP notes.


  • "Unless you’re a fool, you’d have to be concerned,” Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, told AP.

Between the lines: Concerns over the stringency of drug-testing comes as personal bests, national and NCAA records, and world records have been seen across track and field over the past year-plus.

By the numbers: There was a 45% reduction in testing globally in 2020 compared with 2019, a non-Olympic year, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

  • In April and May 2020, WADA reported just 3,203 total tests, compared with 52,365 during those months in 2019.

Yes, but: WADA says testing has returned to full capacity in recent months, with 24,430 tests reported in May and 22,099 in April.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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