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U.S. unlikely to win medal count after medal-less Day 15

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On the next-to-last day of the Sochi Olympics, the U.S. finally had its streak of earning at least one medal on each day of medal events snapped.

For those hoping to see the Americans top the medal count, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Three medal events are on tap for tomorrow’s final day of competition: Four-man bobsled, the men’s mass start in cross-country skiing, and the men’s hockey gold medal game.

As we saw today, the U.S. men’s hockey squad is heading back home with nothing after losing their bronze medal match with Finland. And the skiing event doesn’t have an American among the true contenders.

That leaves only Steven Holcomb and his team of bobsledders as the last legit chance for the U.S. to get one more piece of hardware. They’re currently .01 of a second off the bronze medal position after today’s first two runs.

But even if Holcomb and Co. get a 28th medal for the U.S., it won’t be enough to overtake Russia, which has 29 medals so far and could land two more tomorrow in bobsled (they’re currently first in the four-man) and in cross-country.

Third in the overall medal count is Norway, which has 26 medals but is tied with the Russians for the most golds with 11. Competitors from both nations are expected to figure heavily into the outcome of tomorrow’s mass start.

Canada is fourth overall with 24 medals, but could take third in the golds outright if their men’s hockey team can defeat Sweden tomorrow morning.

But one figures Canucks from Vancouver to the Maritimes won’t really care all that much about where their country winds up in the medal count; they just want their team to beat the Swedes.

Really, really badly.

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 22
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Russia – 11/10/8 – 29
2. Norway – 11/5/10 – 26
3. Canada – 9/10/5 – 24
4. United States – 9/7/11 – 27
5. Netherlands – 8/7/9 – 24
6. Germany – 8/6/5 – 19
7. Switzerland – 6/3/2 – 11
8. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
9. Austria – 4/8/5 – 17
10. France – 4/4/7 – 15
11. Poland – 4/1/1 – 6
12. China – 3/4/2 – 9
13. Korea – 3/3/2 – 8
14. Sweden – 2/6/6 – 14
15. Czech Republic – 2/4/2 – 8
16. Slovenia – 2/2/4 – 8
17. Japan – 1/4/3 – 8
18. Finland – 1/3/1 – 5
19. Great Britain – 1/1/2 – 4
20. Ukraine – 1/0/1 – 2
21. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
22. Italy – 0/2/6 – 8
23. Australia – 0/2/1 – 3
24. Latvia – 0/1/2 – 3
25. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
26. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1

Dawn Harper-Nelson makes tearful plea about banned medication

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Dawn Harper-Nelson of the United States after winning the Women's 100m Hurdles during the Diamond League at Alexander Stadium on August 24, 2014 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
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In a tearful social media video, Olympic 100m hurdles champion Dawn Harper-Nelson said Thursday that she was “afraid for my life” because she’s not allowed to take prescribed blood-pressure medication that is banned by anti-doping authorities.

“I just want to say that this is not fair, that I’m afraid for my life,” she said. “I’m about to go into urgent care, because my blood pressure’s really high again. And USADA [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] said I can’t take the medicine the doctors giving me. And they’re giving me a new medicine. This is just not OK. My head’s bothering me, my vision’s kind of blurry, and they said my blood pressure is high. I’m scared. People need to be aware, this is not cool.”

Harper-Nelson is serving a three-month ban after previously taking a prescribed medication and failing to learn that it contained a banned substance. She said she was prescribed the medication after being rushed to an emergency room and diagnosed with high blood pressure. The ban ends March 1.

Athletes can request therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) through USADA if they have an illness or condition that requires the use of medication listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List. It’s not clear if Harper-Nelson has requested a TUE for medication containing a banned substance.

Harper-Nelson tested positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, which is on the prohibited list, and related metabolites on Dec. 1, according to USADA:

Harper-Nelson’s explanation that her positive test was caused by a blood pressure medication she was prescribed by a physician to treat hypertension. Harper-Nelson further explained that she made efforts to determine if the medication contained prohibited substances; however, due to using partial search terms, those efforts were unsuccessful.

On Thursday, A USADA official reached out to Harper-Nelson on Twitter. USADA has not commented on the situation.

Harper-Nelson won the 2008 Olympic 100m hurdles title and took silver behind Sally Pearson in 2012. She failed to make the Rio Olympic team, getting eliminated in the Olympic Trials semifinals.

The U.S. trio in Rio swept the medals — Brianna RollinsNia Ali and Kristi Castlin.

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A 766-shot table-tennis rally takes 10 minutes (video)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 13:  A general view during the Table Tennis Men's Team Round One Match between Japan and Poland during Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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A 766-shot table-tennis rally, believed to be the longest ever, was a highlight of a tournament in Qatar this week.

Rio Olympian Li Jie of the Netherlands and Hitomi Sato of Japan played for 10 minutes, 13 seconds, neither wanting to attack, before the point was cut short (mercifully) by another ball bouncing near the table.

An expedite rule, forcing a point to end within 13 shots by the player returning serve, was then enforced to speed up play. Li ended up winning in the maximum seven games.

Li and Sato were playing at the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour’s Qatar Open.

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