Galen Rupp

Galen Rupp has been drug tested 19 times this year; more USADA numbers

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The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has updated its athlete drug-testing history statistics with all in- and out-of-competition tests under its program from the second quarter of 2013.

Galen Rupp has been tested more than any other U.S. athlete this year, according to the statistics. The distance runner was tested 19 times in six months, four more than swimmer Missy Franklin and six more than Nike Oregon Project partner Dathan Ritzenhein and another swimmer, Ryan Lochte.

The testing statistics are more notable this quarter than others given recent drug-testing news. USADA reported a total of 1,818 in- and out-of-competition tests over a three-month period. Sports Illustrated reported Jamaica’s anti-doping commission conducted one total out-of-competition test during the same period last year.

Then there’s the fact that two of the top four tested athletes in 2013 are Nike Oregon Project runners. Earlier this week, the Telegraph published a story with comments from Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar about people questioning his top runner, Britain’s Mo Farah.

“It bothers me when people question my integrity,” Salazar told the newspaper. “But the way I look at it, if you don’t want people to say things about you, go run real crappy and then nobody will talk about you. At this level, we know we’re clean. We know we’re never going to test positive for anything. No way in the world. I have a clear conscience.”

Tyson Gay, who has reportedly failed multiple drug tests this year, was tested seven times in the second quarter of 2013, the period during which he failed at least one out-of-competition test.

Lindsey Vonn was the subject of headlines for being tested at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in June, but that was just one of her three out-of-competition tests during the three-month period. Shaun White was not tested once, but that’s not a surprise given his season was over and no skier or snowboarder was tested more than three times.

Back to Rupp. He was tested 17 times all of last year in USADA’s statistics. The most tested U.S. athlete of 2012? Triathlete Matt Chrabot with 25.

It’s also interesting to look at who was or wasn’t tested when considering retirement announcements. Some athletes will retire but keep their name in drug-testing pools in case they reconsider. It can be a months-long process to get back into competition if an athlete retires and takes his or her name out of testing pools.

Michael Phelps has yet to be tested in 2013, keeping in line with his retirement. Two other athletes who have retired, swimmer Peter Vanderkaay and short track speedskater Katherine Reutter, were both tested in the last three months. This doesn’t mean that Vanderkaay and Reutter are contemplating comebacks, but that they could come back with less hassle if they wanted to.

You can search USADA’s database of drug-testing statistics here.

WADA says it will investigate Jamaica’s drug testing

Mary Cain ‘back to basics’ after ‘disappointing year’

Mary Cain
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Mary Cain, who in 2013 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to make a World Championships team and turned pro at age 17 later that fall, is spending her run-up to next year and the 2016 Olympics home in New York rather than returning to Oregon where she went to college and trained last year.

In June, Cain finished eighth in the 1500m at the U.S. Championships, missing the top-four placement necessary to make the World Championships team.

“After a disappointing year, I knew that I needed a change,” Cain said in a blog post Tuesday. “For me, that meant returning home to New York (and its bagels) or where it all started. With 2016 being such an important year, it’s a blessing to be able to, as my mom says, ‘Go back to basics.'”

Cain, who was a freshman at the University of Portland last year, is still coached by three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar with the aid of New Zealand 2004 Olympic 10,000m runner John Henwood, according to the blog.

“We’re trying to get [running] back to fun with her,” Henwood said, according to Runner’s World.

Cain moved from Bronxville, N.Y., to Portland after graduating high school last year, completing a decorated prep career filled with records and state and national titles. She trained with Salazar’s group, which includes Olympic 10,000m gold and silver medalists Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Cain won the World Junior Championships 3000m in 2014 and became the youngest woman to make a senior World Championships 1500m final in 2013, when she finished 10th.

“I always said the key to running well was keeping the sport fun,” Cain said in the blog post. “With the help of this great NY running community, I am happy to say that I have found that love again! I’m looking forward to a rewarding Indoor and Outdoor season.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported me through the ups and downs! I hope to make 2016 a year to remember!”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Usain Bolt returns to Oktoberfest, with Olympic Alpine skier

Brazil’s best tennis player: ‘tough to dream’ of Rio Olympic medal

Thomaz Bellucci
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Thomaz Bellucci admits playing at a home Olympics brings at least some pressure.

“To well represent Brazil,” the Sao Paulo native clarified at the U.S. Open in New York last month. “It’s tough to dream about having a medal.”

The 27-year-old Bellucci is the only Brazilian tennis player, man or woman, ranked in the world top 50. He sits at No. 31, having this season reached his first ATP final since 2012 and winning it at the Geneva Open in Switzerland in May.

Brazil’s Olympic Committee set a target of 27 to 30 medals in Rio, after earning 17 at London 2012. The added glory likely won’t come from tennis, a sport in which a Brazilian has never stood on an Olympic podium.

“For the Olympics, I don’t feel too many pressure,” Bellucci said, “because even if I play in Brazil, I know there are many players more favored than me because [Roger] Federer‘s going to play, [Novak] Djokovic, all these guys have so much more pressure than me because they have more chance to have a medal.”

Olympic tennis gained greater significance on the busy tour calendars among top players with recent Games.

On the men’s side, every medalist from 2008 and 2012 had already reached at least one Grand Slam final in his career. That group of six included Federer (2012 silver), Djokovic (2008 bronze), Rafael Nadal (2008 gold) and Andy Murray (2012 gold).

But if Bellucci and the Brazilians look back, they can find unexpected, inspiring runs. In 1996, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni came to the Atlanta Games ranked No. 95 in the world, having never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The charismatic Meligeni, a lefty who sometimes played wearing his cap backwards, reached the final four in Stone Mountain, twice playing for a medal, and hitting a tweener on the penultimate point of his semifinal against Spain’s Sergi Bruguera.

He lost both medal-round matches, including the bronze match to Indian Leander Paes, who won the U.S. Open mixed doubles last month with another 1996 Olympic singles tennis player, Swiss Martina Hingis. Hingis is attempting to return to the Olympics next year for the first time since 1996.

In 2004, Chile’s Nicolas Massu won singles and doubles gold in Athens having never reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam in singles.

Bellucci debuted at the Olympics in 2008 and hasn’t won a single Games match. He rose from a No. 85 overall ranking in Beijing to No. 42 going into the London 2012 Olympics, where he forced then-Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets. Bellucci and partner Andre Sa were the only doubles pair to take a set off Americans Bob and Mike Bryan at London 2012.

“Beijing I was very surprised, because I was very young and had no idea,” Bellucci said. “In London, I had a very tough draw against Tsonga. Let’s see if I can have more luck in Brazil to have a better draw.”

Not even the great Gustavo Kuerten could sniff an Olympic medal. The three-time French Open champion — the only Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam — couldn’t do better than the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2004.

The analysis of Bellucci in the scope of Kuerten, who is of a similar tall, thin build, has silenced in recent years.

“They used to say that when I was young, when I was starting to play well,” said Bellucci, whose four ATP titles came on Kuerten’s favorite surface, clay, while the Rio Olympic tournament will be on hard courts. “They want to compare me and Guga [Kuerten], but anyway they are not comparing anymore because Guga is so much bigger than me.”

As much as Bellucci tries to keep expectations low, he urges that his sport is one of the most popular in Brazil.

“I think soccer, for sure, is No. 1 and then volleyball is second and then tennis, I think,” he said. “I think we have more people playing tennis than volleyball because I think all the ages can play tennis.”

MORE TENNIS: Martina Hingis waits on Federer, Wawrinka to decide on Rio 2016