Bode Miller

Bode Miller 5th in final Bormio downhill training

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For the second straight day, Bode Miller turned in a solid downhill training run in Bormio, Italy, finishing fifth in Saturday’s final tune-up.

Miller, who finished second in the opening training run on Friday, found himself about a half-second behind Canada’s Erik Guay, who had the fastest time of the day at 1:52.81. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was second, followed by 2013 world champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and David Poisson of France, the 2013 Worlds bronze medalist.

Miller is coming off his best performance in a downhill this season, having placed fifth in Val Gardena a week ago. He was just .15 seconds off landing on the podium at the Saslong classic, which was won by Guay.

Behind Miller, the next highest finisher among Americans were Marco Sullivan in 13th, Travis Ganong in 15th, and Steve Nyman in 21st.

Not surprisingly, skiers amped up the level of aggressiveness in their second trips down the Stelvio, which has also seen tremendous improvements in course conditions a day after a heavy snow storm. Guay’s winning time was nearly a full second faster than the winning time put down by Italy’s Christof Innerhofer on the first training run.

“The top part is a little bit easier than in previous years with the fresh snow, but the middle and bottom sections are typical Bormio – rock hard, pretty icy, bumpy and hard on the legs as usual,” Guay told the FIS. “It still feels better than in the past years to me. Some years I was quite intimidated by it while this year I feel ready for it.

“In the first training run I skied well but was missing a bit of intensity. That is what training runs are for. Today the goal was to be a little more active and tomorrow I want to stick to the same plan, I’ll try not to do too much and ski a clean run top to bottom.”

Guay and Poisson have never landed on the podium in Bormio. Reichelt won the downhill there in 2012 and a super-G on the course in 2008. Svindal’s lone podium there came in 2012 when he finished behind Reichelt and Italy’s Dominik Paris, who is not racing this weekend while nursing an injury. Miller has been solid throughout his career on this slope, winning the downhill in 2007. He has also finished fourth twice and fifth twice, most recently in 2011 which is the last time he raced there.

“The conditions are getting better, especially the upper part and traverse,” Reichelt told FIS. “I like it here, I like the challenge this slope puts ahead of you. Training was good and I wouldn’t complain about a run like today’s in the race.”

The race is slated for tomorrow beginning at 5:45 am ET.

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing doping retest

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.

“Perhaps it’s just a mistake,” Chicherova said, according to an Associated Press translation of a Russian TV report. “I can’t explain how my doping test gave a positive result. I’ve competed a lot since then and given hundreds of samples.”

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

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’