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Tom Sermanni named U.S. Women’s soccer coach

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After three straight gold medals and a couple World Cup titles we’re almost certain the U.S. Women’s team could operate independent of any oversight so long as Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are around, but just to be safe Tom Sermanni was brought in as the new head coach of the team on Tuesday, effective January 1, 2013.

“[Sermanni] has the knowledge, experience and vision to take on the challenge of keeping our team at the top of the world,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a release. “He has a tremendous passion for the game, knows the American players, understands our system and knows the process of preparing a team for a World Cup tournament.”

Sermanni comes to the U.S. after two stints with Australia totaling eleven years, and enters as the seventh head coach of the team since 1985. He takes over for Pia Sundhage, who is returning to her native Sweden after four successful years with Team USA. Jill Ellis has been coaching in the interim since the Olympics.

A native of Scotland, Sermanni played more than 300 professional matches before landing coaching gigs in Canberra, San Jose, and New York. He led the Matildas to the 1995 World Cup and a top-10 FIFA ranking during his tenure. After finishing out his obligations down under Sermanni will observe the team’s last three U.S. games of 2012 (yet to be announced), and then take over when the new year rolls around.

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing retest, coach reportedly says

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“Three days ago, Anna received a notice that her doping sample from the Beijing Olympic tested positive after a re-check, and she called me,” Chicherova’s coach said, according to the report Tuesday. “So far, this is at the development stage and this has not yet been finally confirmed. But all are aware of this and are dealing with the issue.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

On Tuesday, TASS reported that 14 Russian athletes, mostly in track and field, were suspected of doping during the Beijing Games after the retests, citing an unnamed Russian Olympic Committee source.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics

Hiroshi Hoketsu mulls breaking Olympian age record at Tokyo 2020

Hiroshi Hoketsu
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Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.

Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.

“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”

The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.

Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.

After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.

MORE: Oldest surviving Olympic champion dies