Turkey

Report: Turkey could be thrown out of track worlds amid more doping claims

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A growing doping scandal for Turkey, a nation bidding for the 2020 Olympics, could result in it being thrown out of August’s world track and field championships, according to the Telegraph.

Dozens of Turkish athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during a target-testing operation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in the last month, according to the report.

The IAAF puts on track and field worlds every two years. Moscow hosts the championships this year from Aug. 10-18.

“We’re talking about a lot of athletes,” a senior athletics insider told the Telegraph. “It could be as many as 30.”

All the athletes failed urine tests, their “A” samples showed. The cases will be revealed publicly if and when the “B” samples confirm the results, according to the report.

A number of Turkish athletes have been named in doping reports in recent months, including its only track and field gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, 1,500-meter runner Asli Cakir Alptekin.

Alptekin, suspended two years previously for doping, is now facing a lifetime ban after her blood profile showed irregularities under the international biological passport program.

The scale of the doping problem in Turkey is said to be so serious that the IAAF could now take the ultimate step of suspending the Turkish athletics federation and barring its athletes from competing at the World Championships, which begin on Aug 10.

According to the IAAF rulebook, if a member federation is considered to be in breach of its obligations under the sport’s anti-doping regulations, the IAAF’s ruling Council has the authority “to suspend the member until the next meeting of the Congress or for any shorter period” and “to exclude the member’s athletes from any one or more international competition”.

While it is not uncommon for a member federation to be suspended, with Tunisia the most recent example earlier this year due to “government interference”, it is believed to be unprecedented for a national federation to be suspended for doping offences.

To take such a serious step, the IAAF Council would have to be satisfied that the Turkish federation was either complicit in doping or so negligent that it was in breach of its obligations.

No doubt this is not good news for Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. It is one of three finalists for the Sept. 7 vote, along with Madrid and Tokyo.

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Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France (video)

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12