Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Baseball/Softball bid goes back to the drawing board

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The IOC’s decision to put baseball/softball on its shortlist of candidate sports for the 2020 Games seemed to be a stay of execution for the pair of former Olympics disciplines, as the World Baseball Softball Confederation tried to convince the MLB to allow its players to compete in the Games.

But that reality seems more unlikely by the day, so leaders of the WBSC need to find new ways to convince IOC members that they’re more worthy of the lone available spot than wrestling or squash.

“I don’t see the ability for us to change that basic model of moving major league players out of competition and into the Olympics,” Arizona Diamondbacks exec Ken Kendrick told USA Today. “The only way to do it is to interrupt the season.”

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig already shot that down, so the new plan is for the two sports to create the same “footprint” on the Olympics, according to Paul Seiler, executive director and CEO of USA Baseball. That means the two sports would play at different times, play fewer games, use the same venues (with some minor field adjustments), and take up the same rooms at Olympic Village.

“It sounds cliché, but you get two [sports] for the price of one,” Seiler explained. “I’ve heard the term ‘marriage of convenience.’ I’m not sure I buy that. It’s an intelligent partnership, that’s what it is.”

It’s definitely a workable model for the Games, especially with about seven years to prepare. But most think the IOC won’t give baseball/softball the spot without some All-Stars to back the bid, and that doesn’t even seem like a conversation the pros are willing to have anymore, according to Seiler:

“If the only option from the IOC’s perspective is that we need a Dream Team, then that’s a challenge.”

Chris Froome eyes Tour-Olympic double; cyclists face quick turnaround for Rio

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 24:  Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky (C) celebrates finishing first, Romain Bardet of France and AG2R La Mondial Team (L) celebrates finising second and Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Movistar Team (R) celebrates finishing third as they stand on the podium following stage twenty one of the 2016 Le Tour de France, from Chantilly to Paris Champs-Elysees on July 24, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome didn’t indulge in big celebrations on the Champs Elysees. After securing a third Tour de France title in four years on Sunday, the Kenyan-born British rider turned his focus to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

He finished safely at the back of the main pack in the final stage, arm-in-arm with his teammates during the mostly ceremonial leg ending on the cobblestones below the Arc de Triomphe.

At the start of the stage, Froome dropped back to his Team Sky car to collect bottles of beer and distributed them to each of his eight teammates for a celebratory round. Later, they enjoyed the traditional flute of champagne.

But then it was time to look ahead. Froome, a bronze Olympic medalist in the time trial four years ago in London, will once again be among the favorites in the race against the clock in Brazil.

Froome even beat specialist Tom Dumoulin in his favorite discipline in Thursday’s second time trial.

“I think it’s a course (in Rio) that suits me well, there’s almost a thousand meters of climbing and it’s almost 60 kilometers in length,” said Froome, who will also compete in the road race in Rio. “It’s going to be an extremely tough event. I won a bronze medal in the last Olympics in London and it would be absolutely incredible to win another one this year.”

The 54.5-kilometer (34-mile) men’s time trial in Rio, which features four climbs, is on Aug. 10.

Froome traveled to Rio during the winter to preview the Olympic circuit and has changed his preparations this year to maintain peak form until the games.

Four years ago, Froome’s former teammate Bradley Wiggins managed to secure a Tour-Olympics double, triumphing in the London 2012 Games’ time trial ahead of German Tony Martin and Froome after posting the first British win at the Tour in July.

Froome’s hopes of victory in Rio have been boosted by Dumoulin’s injury at the Tour on Friday. The Dutchman pulled out of the Tour after fracturing his wrist and might not recover in time for the Olympics.

Martin also was injured in France, but he says he will be in Rio. He experienced knee pain and pulled out of during stage 21.

“I left directly after the stage,” he said on his Facebook page. “That was not because of my exit from the race, but had been planned all along with an eye to Rio and my further preparation.”

Nairo Quintana of Colombia, however, is expected to miss the Olympics with an illness picked up at the Tour, according to Cycling Weekly. The 26-year-old finished third overall behind Frenchman Romain Bardet in second and Froome in first. Quintana will undergo tests with an eye on returning for the Vuelta a España later in August.

Froome said he will take some days off to recover before competing in a one-day race in London next weekend.

Then it’s off to Rio.

“We’ll be there about a week before the race to start training a bit more again,” Froome said.

Yulia Efimova among Russian swimmers barred from Olympics by FINA

Yulia Efimova
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Seven Russian swimmers, including its most decorated active swimmer, are ineligible for the Rio Olympics, the sport’s international governing body said Monday.

FINA ruled out of Rio reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova, plus Olympic or world championships medalists Vladimir Morozov, Nikita Lobintsev and Daria Ustinova.

Efimova, who has previously served a doping ban, was ruled out after the International Olympic Committee mandated Sunday that any Russian who has previously served a doping ban is ineligible for Rio.

Efimova’s agent said she would take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if she’s ruled out of Rio, according to Russian media.

Efimova ranks No. 2 in the world this year in the 100m breast, behind U.S. Olympic Trials winner Lilly King, and No. 2 in the 200m breast, behind Japan’s Rie Kaneto. Efimova took 200m breast bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.

Morozov, Lobintsev and Ustinova were barred by FINA for corresponding to doping samples mentioned in an independent report into Russian doping published last week.

MORE: Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio Olympics