IOC: Cycling not in jeopardy at Olympics

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Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles are gone, his Olympic medal is in jeopardy, and his reputation is destroyed now that he’s been banned from the sport for life. But while cutting off a Livestrong bracelet is now more popular than wearing one, the IOC says the sport of cycling is safe.

A report by Belga explains that the committee will not investigate the International Cycling Union’s roll in a doping culture that has persisted in the sport for nearly fifteen years. The report also concluded that that cycling is not at risk of being removed from the Olympics anytime in the near future.

“It would not be correct to punish the vast majority of clean athletes if we exclude the UCI from the Games,” said the IOC, which admonished the UCI for the breadth and depth of the doping scandal, but also called it a “pioneer” in the fight against drugs in sports.

President Jacques Rogge said the IOC is likely to implement even stiffer penalties for doping, including four-year suspensions and bans from Olympic competition.

Events like baseball and polo have been removed from the Olympic program for various reasons, including a lack of interest or an inadequate governing body. But no sport has been ejected from the Games for anything illegal, amoral, or lacking in principle, so dropping cycling would have set a dangerous precedent.

Still it’s not a surprise that the UCI feared this reality after former World Anti-Doping Agency president and IOC vice president Dick Pound told CNN he believed this was a “watershed moment” for cycling.

“We have to get this act together very quickly,” Pound said. “It is entirely likely that this was not the only team in the peloton involved in organizing cheating… If they don’t get their act together, it could spin out of control.”

We’re probably well beyond out of control after seeing the sport’s most popular athlete dubbed a fraud, but the problems have been addressed and some even removed. Cycling’s perception is tarnished worldwide, but London couldn’t have gone better for the sport. Where it goes from here is the important next step.

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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