Missy Franklin

Swimmers Franklin, Lochte return to the pool in Austin

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Missy Franklin is back.

The 17-year-old swimmer, who won four gold medals and one bronze at the London Olympics last summer, recently made waves when she returned to high school meets. Now she’ll make her 2013 debut at the national level at this weekend’s Austin Grand Prix.

Franklin will be joined by 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and a host of other Olympians, including Chloe Sutton, Kate Ziegler, Nathan Adrian, Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens, Tyler Clary and Conor Dwyer. The meet will be contested at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center at the University of Texas.

Action starts Friday morning with prelims; finals will be Friday-Sunday night.

Here are three things to watch at the meet:

Low numbers
Typically at these Grand Prix meets, swimmers have to navigate a chaotic scene in the pool during warm-ups. There are so many swimmers that it’s a wonder collisions don’t occur. (Actually they do – Michael Phelps broke his goggles after colliding with Australian Cate Campbell at the 2009 World Championships.) We won’t see those kinds of problems in Austin this weekend, however. It’s a much smaller field at this meet, with some events like the women’s 200m breaststroke boasting just seven swimmers. Others like the men’s 200m freestyle has 38 entries.

We checked with USA Swimming, who told us the reason is that the time standards were lowered for Austin and for the next Grand Prix meet in Orlando. For the three meets after that, the times are a bit more lax – so we should see bigger fields then.

Men’s 100m freestyle
With nine Olympians in the field (including the top seven seeds), this will probably be the most exciting race of the meet. There’s Nathan Adrian, who won the gold medal in London by .01 of a second. Lochte’s there too, as is Jimmy Feigen, Garrett Weber-Gale, Grevers, Berens, Anthony Irvin, Dwyer and Charlie Houchin. That group owns a combined 31 Olympic medals.

Missy’s medals
How many races will Missy Franklin win? She’s entered in six events – 100m/200m/400m freestyle, 100m/200m backstroke and the 200m IM. The backstroke is her best stroke so figure she’ll win those two races. She’s strong in the 100m and 200m freestyle – let’s go with one gold and one silver. The 400m freestyle is a toss up. Franklin’s not known as an IMer but she’s not competing against a real strong field, so let’s assume she’ll at least win a medal (silver, for the sake of this blog post). That’s five medals – three gold and two silver. Agree?

Watch the action Saturday and Sunday night on Universal Sports TV.

Belarus says athletes village unsanitary, but Australia set to move in

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 23: A general view of the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Barra da Tijuca. The Village will host up to 17,200 people amongst athletes and team officials during the Games and up to 6,000 during the Paralympic Games on July 22, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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MOSCOW (AP) — The Olympic team of Belarus has branded the athletes’ village in Rio de Janeiro unsanitary, a day after Australia refused to check its athletes in over health concerns.

It has complained about having no hot water, only sometimes cold water, and a failing sewage system.

Posting pictures on its website of dirty windows and a filthy shower the Belarus Olympic Committee says “there remains much for the Rio organizing committee to do so that the living conditions meet sanitary requirements.”

Australia’s athletes refused to move into the village on Sunday, with delegation head Kitty Chiller saying water leaks and electrical problems had “endangered” athletes.

However, Chiller since said she expects the Australians to move in Wednesday, after having paid for hotel accommodation for athletes and cleaning services.

Sidney Levy, the CEO of the Rio organizing committee, told The Associated Press that half of the 31 apartment buildings in the village complex were ready on Monday.

“The rest will be delivered in the next few days,” Levy said, adding that each building might have a few apartments with problems “that might take a bit extra to solve.”

Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said 630 people are “working around the clock” so the village’s 3,600 apartments can be ready on Thursday, barely a week before the Olympics open on Aug. 5.

Rio officials said 1,600 people from 115 countries were living in the village on Monday — including 400 athletes. The village will accommodate about 18,000 athletes and officials at its peak.

Many teams are already in Brazil but are attending private training camps and may not need to move into the village for another few days.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, after harshly criticizing Chiller on Sunday, has acknowledged that Australia had the worst prepared building in the vast complex that contains seven swimming pools, tennis courts and a dining area to serve 60,000 meals daily.

Chiller listed seven other delegations — Britain, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands — that arrived early and worked with Australia on varied problems.

The president of the Argentine Olympic Committee, Gerardo Werthein, on Monday called two of the five floors for his delegation “uninhabitable.”

Chiller said speaking out probably put “pressure” on the organizing committee. Then she changed her word choice.

“I wouldn’t like to use the word pressure,” she added. “The resources were made available.”

MORE: Not everyone unhappy with housing in Rio Olympic village

Kenya’s doping program inept, but not corrupt

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  Sammy Wanjiru (#2263) of Kenya leads a group of runners during the Men's Marathon on the way to the National Stadium during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Never before have Kenya’s fabulously successful runners gone to the Olympics in such a negative light.

Kenya has a doping problem, no doubt, but seemingly not on the same scale as Russia. There’s no indication that the East African country has a state-sponsored conspiracy to hide cheating.

While Russia’s anti-doping program appears corrupt – leading to a ban for its track and field team and a narrowly-avoided blanket ban for all Russian competitors from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics – Kenya’s drug-testing program is best described as inept.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t serious issues and allegations in Kenya. The country’s track team goes to Rio – there was a moment when it also might have been thrown out – with its reputation at stake.

The Kenyan doping mess explained:

THE PROBLEMS: – At least 40 Kenyan track and field athletes have failed doping tests and been banned since the 2012 Olympics in London.

Four senior officials at the Kenyan track federation, including the top two, have been suspended by the IAAF – track and field’s international governing body – after being accused of trying to corrupt the anti-doping process.

It’s almost three months since Kenya’s entire drug-testing program was declared non-compliant and suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency because of problems with how it’s run.

Seven men – five Kenyans, an Italian coach and an Italian agent – are facing criminal charges in two separate cases in Kenya related to allegations of supplying and administering banned substances to runners.

THE CONTEXT: – Although 40 doping cases in four years is a significant number, the vast majority so far have been lower-level runners who haven’t won major titles. There are a couple of exceptions: Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and two-time cross-country world champion Emily Chebet are among those banned.

Kenyan authorities promised extensive testing of their Olympic athletes to show that the stars – such as 800-meter world-record holder David Rudisha – are clean. In the last few weeks, the sports minister said, around 400 tests were conducted on Kenya’s full Olympic team of just over 100 athletes.

The Kenyan track federation president, vice president, the former track team manager and federation chief executive are all being investigated by the IAAF over allegations they sought to hide positive doping tests or arrange lenient bans while seeking bribes from the athletes involved. Unlike Russia, the anti-doping agency and government departments haven’t also been implicated.

While Kenya’s anti-doping program is currently declared non-compliant by WADA, so is Spain’s. Non-compliance doesn’t immediately mean a country should be banned from competition. It does mean that the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya wasn’t able to do tests in the run-up to the Olympics, leaving it to one of WADA’s regional bodies to do so.

The court cases involving Kenyan men accused of supplying banned substances to athletes appear to be getting to the heart of Kenya’s problem. Allegations were made as far back as 2012 that people were selling banned substances to athletes in remote training bases. Kenyan police and anti-doping authorities have clearly been slow in shutting that drug supply line down.

WHAT SPORTS AUTHORITIES HAVE DONE: – WADA described Kenya’s anti-doping regulations as “a complete mess” when it declared the country non-compliant in May, but WADA doesn’t have the power to ban Kenya’s track and field team from international competitions.

That falls to the IAAF and, in the case of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee. The IAAF stopped short of throwing out Kenya, but placed the country on a doping “monitoring list” until the end of the year. If there aren’t significant improvements, the IAAF could decide on sterner punishment.

In June, the IOC told international sports federations to test individual athletes in Kenya to make sure they are clean before Rio.

REPUTATION AT STAKE: – Kenya’s sporting pride revolves around its world-beating distance runners. If just one of Kenya’s athletes fails a drug test at the Rio Olympics, then all of them – maybe unfairly – are going to be under suspicion. It’ll also probably revive the question of why Kenya’s track team was given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to go to the Olympics.

Kenya’s javelin world champion Julius Yego said the scrutiny is going to be severe: “Everybody will be looking at the Kenyans and all sorts of bad things will be mentioned about Kenya.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta repeatedly warned the athletes against doping when he addressed the Olympic team last week.

“Show them we can win clean. Even if we don’t win, show them we can play clean,” Kenyatta said.

MORE: Kenyan police search agents’ hotel rooms at Olympic Trials