IAAF Centenary Gala Show

Update: Conflicting reports on Blake’s worlds status

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Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake will not defend his 100-meter title at the world championships in August, according to the Jamaica Observer.

UPDATE: Blake’s manager said he’s not out yet, according to Reuters and the Jamaica Gleaner.

“There is absolutely no discussions or plans for any surgery and I don’t know where that information is coming from,” manager Cubie Seegobin told Reuters. “No decision has been made about Yohan missing the world championships.

“The coach has not yet decided on pulling him from the world championships.”

Blake, nicknamed “The Beast,” missed time this spring after suffering a hamstring injury in April.

“He is definitely out of the world championship … he will not be part of Jamaica’s squad,” a senior Jamaica athletics official told the the Observer. “Yohan will have to do surgery soon, so there is no way that he can make the team. The injury is so sensitive that even if he is a real ‘Beast’ he cannot recover from it in time for the world champs.”

Blake’s absence would open the door wider for Usain Bolt to reclaim his 100-meter world title. Bolt infamously false started out of the 2011 world championships final, won by Blake in 9.92 seconds. Blake subsequently took silver to Bolt in the 100 and 200 at the 2012 Olympics.

There’s no doubt now that Bolt’s primary competition at worlds will be Americans Tyson Gay, who has the two fastest 100 times in the world this year, and Justin Gatlin, who has the third, fourth and fifth fastest times and a win over Bolt. Jamaican Warren Weir should factor in with Gay to chase Bolt in the 200.

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Jake Arrieta and the Olympics

Jake Arrieta
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Fans of the Olympics searching for a team to root for in the MLB playoffs should look no further than the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs, in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, seeking their first World Series title since 1908 and set to play at the Pittsburgh Pirates in a wild-card game Wednesday, have three U.S. Olympic bronze medalists on their roster.

Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Trevor Cahill and outfielder Dexter Fowler were on the 24-man 2008 U.S. team that finished third in Beijing, the Olympic curtain call for baseball.

MLB never stopped its season for an Olympic break — like the NHL does — so the Beijing team was made up of 23 minor leaguers and Stephen Strasburg, then a rising junior at San Diego State.

Note Arrieta, who ranked second in the majors in ERA this season (1.77), including a 0.75 ERA and 12-1 record in 15 starts since the All-Star Game. Arrieta, 29, is slated to start the wild-card game Wednesday.

Arrieta was actually more dominant at the Olympics, where he was the only minor leaguer on the U.S. who hadn’t yet reached a double-A league. He made one appearance and threw six shutout innings in Beijing, two years before his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles.

“One thing about pitchers, if they can throw a couple pitches in the strike zone, they could be at A-ball one day and the next day in the big leagues,” U.S. Olympic team manager Davey Johnson said in 2008, according to MLB.com. “He’s kind of intimidating. He can look at you like you don’t want to mess with him in a dark alley.”

Arrieta’s lone Olympic start came in a memorable 9-1 pool-play win against China that included hit batters and ejections.

In the fifth inning, top Chinese player and then-Seattle Mariners catching prospect Wang Wei was knocked out of the game in a glancing home-plate collision with U.S. outfielder Matt LaPorta.

In the sixth, Wang’s replacement took a direct hit from outfielder Nate Schierholtz trying to score on a sacrifice fly, the catcher’s helmet flying off.

China manager Jim Lefebvre (a former Cubs manager) took issue with the rough play, complained to umpires and was ejected.

In the seventh, LaPorta was hit in the head by a pitch, exited the game and was diagnosed with a mild concussion. LaPorta did play later in the tournament.

In the ninth, China’s backup catcher smacked a solo home run off a relief pitcher, circled the bases with his right index finger held high and stomped on home plate. The run reduced the U.S. lead to 9-1.

The U.S. lost to Cuba in the semifinals and beat Japan in the bronze-medal game.

Arrieta also conversed with then-U.S. president George W. Bush while in Beijing. They’re both Texans.

“I was shocked to meet him at first and a little nervous,” Arrieta said, according to USA Baseball. “My family is going to be jealous, and it is something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Baseball was voted out of the 2012 Olympics in 2005 and came up short in bids to return for future Olympics. Its next attempt, to return for Tokyo 2020, will be decided by August.

MORE BASEBALL: The Olympic All-Star baseball team

Carolina Kostner eligible to compete Jan. 1

Carolina Kostner
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Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner can compete starting Jan. 1 after her suspension for assisting then-boyfriend and Olympic race walking champion Alex Schwazer in covering up his doping was amended Monday.

It’s unknown whether Kostner, 28, seeks to compete again.

Her ban had been scheduled to end May 15, but it’s now up at the end of 2015 after she settled a dispute with doping authorities, according to the Italian Olympic Committee. The ban was increased to 21 months but then backdated to April 1, 2104.

The Olympic bronze medalist Kostner was originally given a 16-month ban last January after she admitted she lied to drug testers who showed up at her home in 2012, looking for Schwazer in order to perform a drug test. She said she told drug testers Schwazer was not there, per his request, even though she knew that he was present.

Kostner said before the Schwazer controversy that she would take the 2014-15 season off, after she won Olympic and World Championships bronze medals earlier in 2014.

In Sochi, she became the second oldest women’s figure skating medalist since 1928, according to sports-reference.com.

She owns six World Championships medals, including gold in 2012.

The 2008 Olympic champion Schwazer tested positive for EPO in 2012, was excluded from the London Olympics and banned for four years.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: U.S. silver medalist comes out as gay