Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav on failed drug test: 'It's a conspiracy against me'

Image Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

Narsingh Yadav, who had been set to represent India in 74kg (163 lbs) freestyle wrestling at the Rio Olympics, has failed a drug test, putting his participation in serious jeopardy.

He tested positive for metadienone, an anabolic steroid. But Narsingh is adamant that he's not at fault and claims that he has been framed. In an interview with The Indian Express, Narsingh said the following:

"It’s a conspiracy against me. They have planned everything. I have been wrestling for the last 15 years. I have been to so many international competitions and have been tested several times. I have undergone almost 25-30 dope tests and cleared each and every one. Whenever NADA [India's anti-doping agency] guys have come, I have given my sample to them without any fuss. It is my duty to do that.

"Someone is trying to frame me on purpose. They are trying to stop me from going to the Olympics. There should be a proper investigation and those involved behind this should be given a strict punishment and I should be sent to Rio."

While Narsingh declined to implicate any specific people, he also told The Indian Express that he received around-the-clock security in June after a death threat was made against him. Narsingh also claimed that the drug in his system would be "of no use in wrestling."

The Wrestling Federation of India is backing Narsingh on his claims of a conspiracy. Organization president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh told India's Mail Today that he "believes Narsingh is an innocent guy" and has asked the government to conduct an inquiry into the situation.

The original selection of Narsingh was not without controversy. Narsingh earned a quota spot for India by winning a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships and was slated to be India's representative in the 74kg division. But then two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar staked his claim to the spot and said that he should be given the chance to compete against Narsingh in an Olympic selection trial. Sushil took the matter to the Delhi High Court, but his plea was ultimately dismissed, and Narsingh was awarded the quota spot.

An official from the Sports Authority of India told the Press Trust of India that there was "no chance" of Sushil replacing Narsingh at the Olympics, as the deadline for submitting entries had passed.

For his part, Sushil tweeted that the situation was "unfortunate" and said that he would always support his fellow wrestlers.

Top wrestlers set to compete in the 74kg freestyle weight class in Rio include reigning Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs of the United States, Russia's Aniuar Geduev, Iran's Hassan Yazdani and Mongolia's Purevjav Unurbat.

]]>

FINA rules 7 Russians ineligible for Olympics because of doping violations

Image Credit: © 2012 / Comité International Olympique (CIO) / HUET, John

MOSCOW (AP) — Seven Russian swimmers have been barred from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, including three linked to recent allegations of a major doping cover-up by Russian authorities, world swimming's governing body FINA said Monday.

Reigning world 100-meter breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova is among four Russian swimmers withdrawn by the Russian swimming federation because they previously served doping bans, FINA said. The others are Natalya Lovtsova, Anastasia Krapivina and Mikhail Dovgalyuk.

The International Olympic Committee on Sunday said Russian athletes with previous doping bans would be banned from the Rio Games. That followed the IOC's decision not to ban the entire Russian team over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

FINA said three more swimmers were identified by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren when he examined evidence that Russian government officials ordered the cover-up of hundreds of doping tests.

They are 2008 Olympic silver and 2012 bronze medalist Nikita Lobintsev, bronze medalist Vladimir Morozov and world junior record holder Daria Ustinova.

Russia's top Olympic official, Alexander Zhukov, told Russian agency R-Sport that he now believed a total of 13 Russians would be ineligible due to previous doping bans. They would be withdrawn from the team, he added.

The 13 are likely to include athletes in swimming, cycling, weightlifting, wrestling and rowing.

On Sunday, the IOC's executive board asked individual global sports federations to decide on the entry of Russian athletes, and announced new eligibility criteria.

The rules prohibit Russia from sending to the Rio Games any athletes who have previously served doping bans. Sports federations can also reject Russian entries if they have not undergone enough international drug testing. Results of Russian tests will not be accepted following allegations of routine cover-ups at Moscow's anti-doping laboratory.

It remains unclear whether there could be legal challenges to the IOC criteria. A similar IOC measure, known as the Osaka Rule, which would have prohibited any athletes who had received doping bans from competing in the subsequent Olympics, was declared invalid by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Zhukov said the IOC's latest criteria violated the "principle of equality" because they only applied to Russia, although he has previously ruled out legal action.

However, Russian Swimming Federation president Vladimir Salnikov told the state Tass agency that the four swimmers cut from its team "have the chance to appeal to CAS." Efimova's agent, Andrei Mitkov, told Russia's Sportbox website that she intended to file an appeal if she was not allowed to compete.

Russia's track and field athletes remain barred from the games by the IAAF, a decision upheld last week by CAS and accepted by the IOC.

Now, with the Aug. 5 Opening Ceremony approaching, it is up to the remaining 27 international sports federations to vet Russian athletes on an individual basis.

The archery federation said Monday it had approved the entry of three Russian archers after determining they have no links to doping.

World Archery said it was satisfied that the three female Russian archers nominated for the games had been tested "extensively" and have never been sanctioned for doping. They were listed as Tuiana Dashidorzhieva, Ksenia Perova and Inna Stepanova.

Archery was not implicated in the World Anti-Doping Agency report released last week by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, which accused Russia of covering up doping in 20 summer Olympic sports.

Russian archers have been targeted for additional testing, both in and out of competition, since the report was released, the federation said.

"No Russian archery athlete has received an adverse analytical finding," it said, adding that it would submit its findings to the IOC.

The International Tennis Federation said Sunday it expects Russia's eight-player Olympic tennis team to be eligible for the games. The ITF said the players "have been subject to a rigorous anti-doping testing program outside Russia."

The International Equestrian Federation said there was no indication of doping within Russia's five-rider team.

Russian cyclist Ilnur Zakarin, who won a stage during the Tour de France which ended Sunday, could be ruled out because he served a two-year ban after testing positive for a steroid in 2009.

The International Judo Federation, whose honorary president is Russia's President Vladimir Putin, said it has already tested 84 percent of the 389 athletes from 136 countries who are qualified to compete in Rio. It made no mention of the 11 Russian judo athletes entered.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said it "has taken note" of the IOC ruling and "shall fully adhere to it." It said it would establish a "pool of Russian eligible athletes." Gymnastics was not mentioned in the McLaren report.

Boxing's governing body, AIBA, said it was examining Russia's entrants. Eleven Russian boxers have boxers for Rio, including reigning world champions Vitaly Dunaytsev and Evgeny Tishchenko.

"We are reviewing and analyzing, on a case by case basis, the anti-doping record of the 11 Russian boxers currently qualified for Rio 2016," AIBA said. "This information and the decision of AIBA in respect of the athlete's eligibility will be submitted to the IOC for confirmation in due course."

]]>

Aly Raisman, Chris Brooks named captains of U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams

Image Credit: USA Today Sports

Aly Raisman will serve as the captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team for the second straight Olympics, while Chris Brooks will lead the men's team in his Olympic debut. Raisman, 22, and Brooks, 29, are the oldest members of their respective teams and known for cheering on their teammates in competition.

 
Both before and after her comeback to gymnastics competition in 2015, Raisman has been the defacto leader of the women's program. Gabby Douglas, Raisman's teammate in 2012 and 2016, remembered a moment from the London team final where she badly needed a pep talk.
 
"I would have to say the moment that really stood out to me was beam," Douglas said, "and they put me up on beam, I was just so nervous. I looked at Aly and I was like, 'Aly, I don't think I can do this. I need to tell someone that they need to put somebody else in,' and I was so nervous. She's like, 'Gabby, shut up! You've been fine, your beam has been solid in training, just go out there and don't think about it, don't stress yourself out.' I'm like, 'Okay, okay.'"
 
The five members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team are Raisman, Douglas, Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.
 
The other gymnasts jokingly call Raisman "Grandma Aly" for her age and love of napping.
 
 
On the men's side, three of the five members are returning Olympians—but not Brooks. He was an alternate in 2012 and missed the 2013 and 2014 World Championships due to injuries. He was named an alternate again for the 2015 Worlds team, but was then added to the team last-minute when Sam Mikulak injured his ankle and had to withdraw. 
 
Over the course of the two Olympic selection events in June 2016, Brooks proved to be the most consistent man in the field. He hit 24 out of 24 routines with no major mistakes, and finished second in the all-around at both Olympic Trials and P&G Championships. 
 
 
The other members of the team are Mikulak, Jake Dalton, Alex Naddour and Danell Leyva (who was promoted from alternate to team member after John Orozco tore his ACL at the Olympic training camp). 
 
 
Aimee Boorman, the personal coach of Biles, will serve as the women's team's head coach, with Mihai Brestyan, Raisman's coach, as the assistant. It will be Boorman's first Olympic appearance, while Brestyan coached Raisman at the 2012 Games and Alicia Sacramone at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
 
 
Mark Williams, the men's gymnastics head coach of University of Oklahoma, was named the head coach of the men's Olympic team. Brooks, Dalton and Naddour all competed collegiately at Oklahoma. Williams was an assistant coach on the 1996 Olympic team and was a personal coach of gymnasts at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, but Rio will be his first time serving as the head coach. 
 
"I am honored," Williams told Sooner Sports. "It’s amazing to be in a position to lead any team at the Olympic Games, and I feel we are very fortunate to have athletes that have been part of the Olympic process in the past. I’m excited about this team. I think we have a tremendous opportunity in Rio and I’m looking forward to the journey."
 
 
]]>

Olympic canoe/kayak slalom preview: A guide to whitewater racing in Rio

Image Credit: 2016 The Associated Press

Whitewater churns into foam as double-ended paddles windmill one-person boats into position. The paddles go up in the air as the boats slide through red or green gates, then the furious wind milling begins again.

For a sport that doesn't get the attention of some of the more well-known ones, whitewater canoe and kayak has plenty of action and drama.

A few things to look for in whitewater canoe/kayak at the Rio Olympics next month:

THE LOWDOWN: The four canoe/kayak slalom events will be held Aug. 7-11, with medals award the final three days. Men compete in single and double canoe, along with kayak. Women compete in kayak only. The races will take place at the Whitewater Stadium in Deodoro on a steep 250-meter course that has between 18 and 25 gates. Green gates are negotiated with the current, red against it. Paddlers are assessed a two-second penalty for hitting a gate and 50 seconds for missing one completely.

EUROPEAN DOMINANCE: European countries have dominated the sport since its inception at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and show no signs of letting loose of their stranglehold. In men's canoe slalom (C1), European counties have won every medal but one since the 1992 Barcelona Games, when the sport was put back into the Olympic program after a 20-year absence. Europe has accounted for all but one medal in kayak (K1) and 16 of 18 medals in two-person canoe (C2) during that span. Women have had a little better chance breaking through the European stronghold, with paddlers from the U.S. and Australia combining for six of the 18 medals since Barcelona.

AMERICAN MEN: The United States team has two paddlers with solid chances to earn medals in Rio. Kayaker Michal Smolen, who emigrated from Poland as a child, was unable to compete at the 2012 London Games due to questions about his citizenship, but should make a strong run to the podium this time around. Smolen earned bronze at the 2015 world championships and has times that compare to the best paddlers in the world. Not bad for someone who was terrified of the water when he first started kayaking at 8. Canoeist Casey Eichfield will be competing in his third straight Olympics and will try to pull off a double, competing in C1 and C2 with Devin McEwan. Eichfield finished fourth at world championships and was in the top 15 his previous two Olympics.

NEE'S RELIEF: Women's kayaker Ashley Nee had a rough road to her first Olympics. She qualified for the 2008 Beijing Games, but injured a shoulder during a test event and wasn't able to completely recover in time for the Olympic trials, finishing fourth. Nee had enough points to qualify for the 2012 London Games, but was edged out by Caroline Queen on a tiebreaker. Nee won the Olympic trials this May, yet still didn't have a spot secured; she had to await a decision by the International Canoe Federation to award the United States an additional athlete quota spot. Now at 27, she's headed to her first Olympics.

C1 OPENING: Men's single canoe has been dominated by two paddlers the past five Olympics: Michal Martikan of Slovakia and France's Tony Estanguet. Starting with the 1996 Atlanta Games, those two won every gold medal in C1; three by Estanguet and two by Martikan. There will be a different champion in Rio after Estanguet retired and Martikan, the only canoe slalomist to win five Olympic gold medals, failed to make the Slovakian team for Rio.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Kayaker Jirí Prskavec of the Czech Republic is the type of paddler who could be uncatchable if he's on his game. His father, Jiri, was a two-time Olympian and the younger Prskavec has a chance to make bigger waves in Rio. He was the 2015 world champion and has five medals in world championship competition.

]]>

Brianne and Ashton Eaton’s Christmas ornament collection

Image Credit: Instagram: weareeaton

Ashton Eaton and his then-fiancé, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, strolled through the streets of London, looking for the perfect souvenir to commemorate their experience at the 2012 Olympics. 

Eaton, the 2012 Olympic decathlon champion for the U.S., and Theisen-Eaton, who finished 10th in the heptathlon for Canada, left several gift shops empty handed. They saw a couple of unique shirts, but, as Nike athletes, both had more shirts than they could ever wear. They considered buying a coffee mug, but knew their cupboard was already full.

They finally found a ceramic Christmas ornament of Big Ben and a red double-decker bus, and bought it without hesitation. 

“It was the perfect souvenir,” Theisen-Eaton said in an interview at the NYRR Millrose Games. “Christmas ornaments are something that you can pack away, and then bring out to relive the memories once a year.”

The collection quickly grew for the couple, who married in July 2013. During a post-Olympic trip to Paris, they visited the Eiffel Tower and bought an ornament that was modeled after the monument.

“We try to find something that will remind us of the places we’ve been,” Eaton said.

It is not always easy for the Eatons to find Christmas ornaments. Their track season typical season starts in January and ends in August, before most souvenir shops begin stocking Christmas items. 

They have therefore learned to get to get creative. 

“Sometimes we will buy a magnet, take the magnet off the back, put a hole in it, and hook a string through it,” Theisen-Eaton said.

The couple ran out of time to look themselves for a Christmas ornament while in Beijing for the 2015 World Championships. 

Eaton recruited his mother, Roslyn, to find a Christmas ornament. She journeyed to the Silk Market with Theisen-Eaton’s sister, Jessica. They found a vendor who customized Christmas ornaments by writing customers’ names in Mandarin, along with phrases including “longevity” and “good fortune.”

They then had to negotiate a price.

“The Theisen family knows how to haggle,” Roslyn said at a sponsored appearance for P&G. “I had never done that, so they taught me.”

The Eatons have yet to actually display their Christmas ornament collection, which now numbers several dozen. They are usually at a training camp in Santa Barbara, Calif. during the month of December, while their ornaments are stored in a shoebox in Bend, Ore. 

“When we have kids,” Theisen-Eaton said, “we will set up a Christmas tree and start the tradition with them.”

Both athletes are considered medal favorites at the 2016 Olympics. At the 2015 World Championships, Eaton broke his own decathlon world record to win his second world championship, while Theisen-Eaton claimed the heptathlon silver medal, behind 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

They are looking forward to adding to their Christmas ornament collection in Rio. 

“Hopefully we can find Christ the Redeemer,” Eaton said. 

]]>

More stories...

Watch every Michael Phelps race from Sydney to London

Boos to cheers: Durant heads home to Oakland with Team USA

Eugenie Bouchard makes Olympic decision: ‘I didn’t want to watch on TV’

Watch Usain Bolt win all six of his Olympic gold medals

Martha Karolyi to sell training camp to USA Gymnastics

U.S. rolls over China in second men's basketball tune-up

Team USA's #Perfect10 divers had the ultimate Olympic sendoff

IOC will not enforce blanket ban on Russian athletes

Ready or Not: Rio Olympics open doors at Athletes Village

US sending record number of women to Rio Games

Fans in Vegas miss Olympic hoops exhibition due to glitch

Brazil police arrest man suspected of Olympics attack plans

Farah dominant, Fraser-Pryce sluggish in final pre-Rio races

DeMarcus Cousins looks to make most of chance with U.S. basketball team

Decision time: IOC poised to rule on Russia's status for Rio

WNBA President Lisa Borders talks about fining players over warmup shirts

Keni Harrison breaks 100m hurdles world record after missing Olympic team

U.S. women's soccer easily beats Costa Rica in final match before Olympics

U.S. romps over Argentina in first Olympic exhibition

U.S. gymnasts could outdo Fierce Five with six golds in Rio

Usain Bolt wins his first 200m race of the year

Six-time world champ Kohei Uchimura wants team gold for Japan

The Greatest: Michael Phelps returns for another Olympic farewell

U.S. Olympic team of 550-plus athletes most of any nation in Rio

Dong Dong leads Chinese trampoline favorites in Rio

Russians the favorites in rhythmic gymnastics—if they compete

Russia sets up anti-doping commission after Putin intervenes

IOC strips doping weightlifter of 2008 Olympic silver medal

Synchronized swimming 101: Olympic history

Synchronized swimming 101: Basics

Synchronized swimming 101: Competition format

Synchronized swimming 101: Equipment

Synchronized swimming 101: Venue

Synchronized swimming 101: Glossary

Synchronized swimming 101: Scoring system

Synchronized swimming 101: Visual guide to body movements

IOC: 45 more positive cases in retests of 2008, '12 samples

Olympic alchemy: Turning Hungary's 'Iron Lady' Katinka Hosszu into pure gold at 2016 Rio Olympics

Golf returns to the Olympics, minus its best players

The Magnificent Seven: Where are they now?

The Magnificent Seven: Celebrate the 20 year anniversary

Watch: The Magnificent Seven win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Kerri Strug: 'I always know on the 23rd of July, this is the day my life changed'

Shannon Miller: 'Hopefully we continue to inspire even decades later'

Dominique Dawes: 'Oh my goodness, we’re like moms and we’re getting old! And it’s awesome!'

20 things you never knew about the Magnificent Seven

Quiz: How well do you know the Magnificent Seven gymnastics team?

Marc Gasol to miss Olympics for Spain

Q&A with Julia Reinprecht

Top ten Olympic muscles

Russians lose track appeal; IOC to weigh total ban for Rio

Aliya Mustafina leads Russia Olympic gymnastics roster as IOC decision looms

Trampoline athlete Rosie MacLennan chosen as Canada's flag bearer

Russia's track and field stars angered by Rio Olympics ban

Why U.S. women are dominating triathlon

Pau Gasol 'still considering' freezing sperm ahead of Rio

Table tennis star Lily Zhang talks Rio, her lucky racket, and T-Swift

U.S. star Jordan Burroughs key to wrestling's popularity push

Who is... Logan Dooley

China vows zero-tolerance on doping for Olympic team

Rhythmic gymnastics 101: Basics

Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte facing more down time at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Japan expects three golds from Kohei Uchimura in Rio

Sam Querrey: Maybe tennis shouldn’t be in Olympics

Russia loses appeal against Olympic track and field ban

U.S. women's field hockey falls to India 2-1

Who is... Becky Sauerbrunn

The true story behind Usain Bolt’s Segway accident

Fabian Cancellara withdraws from final Tour to focus on Olympics

19-year-old Chloe Dygert ready to chase gold at Rio Olympics

UL Crown first step on run-up to women's golf at Rio Games

Q&A with Stefanie Fee

Gregg Popovich working with Coach K this go around as he prepares to take over Team USA

Aria Fischer to become youngest U.S. woman in summer Olympic team sport

Who is... Laura Zeng

What you've missed since London: Rhythmic gymnastics

Gymnasts face complicated choice: Olympic endorsements or college careers

Rafael Nadal skips Rogers Cup, confident he’ll be ready for Rio

2 Russian weightlifters banned for doping

Ginny Thrasher shortens rifle learning curve on road to Rio

Eugenie Bouchard to make ‘last-minute’ decision on Olympics

Stephens upset, Querrey advances at Citi Open

'We have to stand united:' Melo seeks more than Olympic gold

Who is... Nicole Ahsinger

Russia says final decision on Olympic ban expected Sunday

Jack Sock, the newest face of American men’s tennis, seeks Rio gold

What you've missed since London: Trampoline

Meet Team USA: Rhythmic Gymnastics

ICF official: Tim Hornsby out for Rio Olympics

Michael Phelps voted one of six U.S. Olympic Swim Team captains

Justine Henin and Marat Safin take Center Court at the Tennis Hall of Fame

Q&A with Kat Sharkey

Q&A with Boyd Martin

How Laurie Hernandez earned the nickname 'Baby Shakira'

Who is... Megan Rapinoe