Bode Miller

Bode Miller strong in Val Gardena downhill; Canadian wins

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Bode Miller posted his best finish in three downhill races this season Saturday, his comeback campaign from major knee surgery.

Miller, 36, was fifth in Val Gardena, Italy, coming in behind a podium of three more skiers who recorded their best results in months or years.

“I’ve been skiing well,” Miller said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “The fact is we just don’t have the whole thing together right now. We’re close, and we’re getting there.”

Canadian Erik Guay won in 1 minute, 56.65 seconds. The 2011 world downhill champion won a World Cup race for the first time since March 11, 2010.

Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud was second, .12 behind, his best World Cup finish since March 4, 2012. The Olympic silver medalist tore an ACL at the World Championships in February.

Frenchman Johan Clarey was third, matching his best World Cup result from Dec. 19, 2009. World Cup overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fourth.

Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist, continued to improve a day after taking eighth in a super-G. His best finish this season was second in a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Dec. 8, but Miller is thought to be a better Sochi medal threat in speed events downhill and super-G.

Miller underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee Feb. 20, 2012, and missed all of the 2012-13 season.

“I skied pretty well, but it’s one of those courses where there’s not enough to it to bring it back in with my technical ability,” Miller said.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, on Sunday. American world and World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety is the favorite.

Val Gardena Downhill
1. Erik Guay (CAN) 1:56.65
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:56.77
3. Johan Clarey (FRA) 1:56.89
4. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:56.94
5. Bode Miller (USA) 1:57.04
6. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 1:57.28
7. Manny Osborne-Paradis (CAN) 1:57.45
8. Werner Heel (ITA) 1:57.51
9. Jan Hudec (CAN) 1:57.55
10. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:57.57
13. Erik Fisher (USA) 1:57.79
16. Marco Sullivan (USA) 1:58.08
19. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:58.41
38. Jared Goldberg (USA) 1:59.67
40. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 1:59.84
48. Nick Daniels (USA) 2:00.50
DNF. Steven Nyman (USA)

Lindsey Vonn fails to finish Val d’Isere downhill

U.S. Olympic tennis player refuses to answer meldonium questions

Varvara Lepchenko
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Varvara Lepchenko, a 2012 U.S. Olympic tennis player, reportedly refused comment eight times Tuesday on a report that she tested positive for meldonium earlier this year.

“At the moment I have no comment on any of this,” Lepchenko said after losing her first-round match at the French Open, according to multiple reports. “I’m here just to answer tennis questions. If you have any questions about my match, I would gladly answer them, but otherwise, I just have no comments.”

Lepchenko, a 30-year-old who lived in Uzbekistan until 2001, was found to have meldonium at about the same time as Russian Maria Sharapova, a physiotherapist who worked with Sharapova said, according to Russia’s Sports-Express last week.

Sharapova announced on March 7 that she tested positive for meldonium in January.

Lepchenko didn’t play on the WTA Tour from late February until early May, withdrawing before the BNP Paribas Open in March with a left knee injury and the Sony Open two weeks later with a right knee injury, according to the WTA.

The World Anti-Doping Agency relaxed meldonium punishments in April, allowing bans to be lifted. Sharapova’s ban has not been lifted.

Lepchenko, who lost in the second round at London 2012, is ranked No. 64 in the world and will not qualify for the Rio Olympics.

MORE: Djokovic calls for rankings points at ‘arguably the fifth Grand Slam’

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing retest, coach reportedly says

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS named nine 2008 Olympic medalists among 14 Russian athletes, citing a Russian TV report, including eight medalists in track and field, with Chicherova being the superstar of the group.

“Three days ago, Anna received a notice that her doping sample from the Beijing Olympic tested positive after a re-check, and she called me,” Chicherova’s coach said, according to TASS. “So far, this is at the development stage and this has not yet been finally confirmed. But all are aware of this and are dealing with the issue.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

“The Ministry of Sport is extremely disappointed to hear the speculation that Russian athletes are among those found to have violated anti-doping rules at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after re-testing their samples,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement through Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. “Any athletes found cheating should face corresponding sanctions.

“We have taken numerous steps to eradicate the issue of doping, and understand that the roots of the problem, particularly in athletics, go back to the past.”

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics