Veronica Campbell-Brown

Veronica Campbell-Brown receives warning, no suspension from Jamaican track and field panel

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Jamaica’s most decorated Olympic champion is set to be cleared to compete, five months after failing a drug test.

A Jamaican track and field disciplinary panel issued a warning and no suspension to Veronica Campbell-Brown, 31 and a seven-time Olympic medalist, Wednesday night.

“The disciplinary committee has issued a ruling that Veronica Campbell-Brown has committed an anti-doping violation, contrary to IAAF Rule 32.2a,” the Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association said in a statement. “They have recommended that a reprimand without any period of ineligibility would be appropriate.”

The IAAF has to ratify the recommendation, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. The newspaper reported on Thursday that the ruling was unlikely to be upheld by the IAAF, citing at least two unnamed officials.

IAAF Rule 32.2a outlines what constitutes an anti-doping rule violation. It is 243 words long and can be found in the IAAF rule book here. The Jamaican panel ruled Campbell-Brown did not use the banned substance to enhance her performance.

Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic on May 4. The positive test was first reported June 14. The drug was reportedly either Lasix (Furosemide) or Hydrochlorothiazide, similar substances that can be used as masking agents for performance-enhancing drugs.

The banned drug came from a cream that Campbell-Brown was using to treat a leg injury and which she had declared on her doping control form, according to Reuters, citing unnamed sources close to Jamaican track and field.

Campbell-Brown was provisionally suspended and has not competed since June. Another Jamaican sprinter, Steve Mullings, tested positive for Furosemide in 2011 and was banned for life. Mullings had tested positive before. This was Campbell-Brown’s first failed test.

Campbell-Brown has not made any public comments since the test came to light and missed the Jamaican National Championships and the World Championships. She was considered a medal contender in the 100 meters, 200 and 4×100 relay.

In June, an IAAF spokesman said Campbell-Brown’s case appeared to be a “lesser” offense of unintentional use. In July, the Times of London reported Campbell-Brown was expected to receive a six-month ban.

The standard ban for positive drug tests is two years, but under a “lesser” offense, just a warning is an option if the athlete can prove he or she ingested the substance without intent to enhance performance.

“Veronica is not a cheat,” read part of a statement sent to media by Campbell-Brown’s agent in June.

She effectively did serve a six-month ban given she sat out all summer competitions, and the next track and field season doesn’t pick up again until 2014.

Campbell-Brown was the first in a series of positive drug tests for sprinters this season that included American record holder Tyson Gay, former world record holder Asafa Powell and 2008 Olympic 100-meter silver medalist Sherone Simpson.

Gay, Powell and Simpson have not received their official suspensions yet but haven’t competed since their positive tests were first reported.

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Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

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KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

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Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
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Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

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