Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin

Tyson Gay vs. Justin Gatlin; Lausanne Diamond League preview

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It is the most anticipated 100m race so far this season, and Usain Bolt is nowhere to be found.

Tyson Gay will compete for the first time since the end of his one-year doping suspension at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. He will do so against Justin Gatlin, the World Championships silver medalist who is undefeated this season.

Gay is the fastest American of all time, and Gatlin is tied as the second fastest with a stated of goal of taking Gay’s American record.

Never were Gay and Gatlin closer on the track than at the London Olympics. In the 4x100m relay final, Gatlin passed the baton and the lead to Gay for the third leg. That edge evaporated on Gay’s turn, wiped by Yohan Blake, who handed off to anchor Usain Bolt for a victory in world-record fashion.

The U.S. earned an appreciated silver, equaling the previous world record. Gay, who would have been a 2008 Olympic podium favorite if not for injury, felt particularly fulfilled to hold his first medal.

“That’s the part of my heart that was missing,” Gay said two years ago. “I think I finally filled it.”

But Gay gave up that silver medal to the U.S. Olympic Committee because it was won after he began taking performance-enhancing drugs. The rest of the U.S. relay team may be stripped of theirs as well. That includes Gatlin, who has four other Olympic medals to soften the blow.

Gatlin himself likely ceded more Olympic glory due to doping. He was banned four years from 2006 to 2010.

“There’s still a lot of pressure on [Gay] coming back,” Gatlin told the BBC in June. “People have more questions than answers — why his time [suspended] has been so short.”

Gay and Gatlin may not be the biggest story to come out of the meet, whose coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com. Here are the start lists. Here are five events to watch:

Men’s 400m — 2:03 p.m. ET

LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James renew their rivalry. They clocked identical 43.97s at the Prefontaine Classic on May 31 with James outleaning Merritt for the win to take a 6-5 edge in their career duels.

They’re the only men to go sub-44 this year, or any of the last five years for that matter.

Men’s high jump — 2:25

The world record is in jeopardy again. Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, World champion Bohdan Bondarenko and Olympic and World medalist Mutaz Barshim have all cleared 2.41m or higher this year. The world record from 1993 is 2.45m.

Bondarenko and Barshim took a combined five attempts at breaking the world record at the last Diamond League meet in New York but failed on every one at 2.46m.

Women’s 100m — 2:28

American Tori Bowie, the new sensation of the sprint season, was still on the start list 27 hours before the scheduled race despite appearing to suffer a leg injury at the U.S. Championships. Bowie, almost exclusively a long jumper until March, hurt herself on a 10.91-second semifinal and pulled out of the final Friday. That was the fastest time of the meet and Bowie’s first time clocking sub-11.

Bowie, the world leader in the 200m, is set to face the only two women faster than her in the 100m this year — Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (10.85) and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.86).

UPDATE: Campbell-Brown pulled out of the meet Wednesday due to a sore hamstring, according to her Twitter.

Men’s 100m — 2:58

Gatlin must be considered the favorite over Gay since there’s no telling what kind of form Gay is in. Though Gatlin is undefeated in 2014, he is not the fastest man this year. That’s Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson, who has run 9.82 to Gatlin’s 9.86 but is not in the Lausanne field.

The best from the rest is Mike Rodgers, who won the U.S. Championship last week (Gatlin and Gay were not in that field).

Men’s 200m — 3:43

Jamaican Yohan Blake would have added sizzle to the 100m, but as is the norm the world’s best sprinters are split up. Blake is coming off an awful 10.21 in the 100m in New York on June 14, when he stumbled out of the blocks in his Diamond League season debut.

This will mark his first Diamond League 200m in nearly two years, given Blake missed almost all of last season with a hamstring injury. His top competition will be Jamaican 100m champion Nickel Ashmeade and 2009 World silver medalist Alonso Edward.

Usain Bolt will race at Commonwealth Games, report says

Pressure on Ashley Wagner at world championships

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Ashley Wagner‘s four-year plan has her peaking in 2018, not at the 2017 World Championships, but many call Wagner to carry the U.S. women at worlds in Helsinki next week.

“Next year is the year that I am, like, in it to kill,” she said. “This year is maintaining. This year is my chance to work out all of the kinks, figure out where I want to be mentally going into next year.”

Wagner, the 2016 World silver medalist, is the only skater of three American women on this year’s worlds team with prior worlds experience. She is the only one ranked higher than 20th in the world this season.

Normally, figure skating is an individual sport. But next week, the top two U.S. women’s results must add up to no greater than 13 (Wagner places third, and either U.S. champion Karen Chen or U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell places 10th or better, for example).

If not, the U.S. will have two rather than the maximum three women’s entries at the PyeongChang Olympics. The U.S. had three spots at four of the last five Olympics.

Anything less than three in 2018 would mean the U.S. is not keeping up with world power Russia and maybe even Canada and Japan. And it becomes that much harder for Wagner and everyone else to make the Olympic team.

“I know that I have a huge role in these three spots at these world championships,” Wagner said. “I need to set this team up as good as I possibly can, so that way the pressure’s off the other girls.”

The others are the 17-year-old Chen, the surprise winner at the U.S. Championships in January, who then placed 12th at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that doesn’t include Europeans. Chen said she suffered from nerves, a flu and foot pain caused by broken boots at Four Continents.

And Bell, who took silver at October’s Skate America behind training partner Wagner. Bell, 20, finished sixth at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, where she competed with an amount of pressure she had never before felt.

Of skaters entered at worlds, Bell has the 10th-best total score this season. The skater with the 12th-best total in the worlds field is more than nine points shy of Bell. Chen comes in seeded 16th.

“The tough thing about this worlds is that we have two rookies going into a very stressful event,” Wagner said. “So these two girls are in a really tough position, and I really feel for them. It’s kind of like you have to buckle up and deal with this, and that’s like your only option.”

There is reason for optimism, should Wagner put up something close to the performance of her life from last year’s worlds, where she became the first U.S. women’s medalist in a decade.

“Success in Finland is getting onto that podium,” Wagner said.

But Wagner is nearing the end of her (so far) least impressive season in probably six years. She is seeded eighth at worlds by this season’s top international scores.

She failed to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011. She was beaten at nationals despite longtime rival Gracie Gold underperforming.

However, Wagner’s goal at nationals wasn’t to win, but to finish in the top three to make the worlds team. She called the runner-up result “perfect.” She focused the last two months on firming up the areas where she lost points.

“Even though to some on the outside looking in, it wouldn’t look like it was the most successful season for me,” Wagner said. “I think at the end of the day this season has been exactly what I needed it to be.”

The favorite in Helsinki is clearly Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost since November 2015 and can become the first repeat world champion since Michelle Kwan in 2001.

Wagner said she hasn’t watched any of Medvedeva’s programs this season.

“The only thing that I know about is her long program music is not my favorite piece of music,” Wagner said, alluding to Medvedeva’s choice of sound from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a 2011 film relating to the 9/11 attacks. The music includes, at one point, the voice of George W. Bush declaring that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.

But Wagner was effusive of Medvedeva, the latest in a string of Russian Olympic and world champions dating to the Sochi Olympics.

“She is a set bar that everybody is chasing after, and I think in years past that bar was always changing,” Wagner said. “Now it’s one set thing I know exactly the quality of skating I have to reach, I know exactly the technical program that I have to be able to accomplish.”

Wagner, a seasoned 25 years old, noted a key point this week. She is the only active women’s skater in her class, with her length of experience, who hasn’t taken a break.

Italian Carolina Kostner is 30, but she’s competing at worlds for the first time since 2014, following two seasons off. Japan’s three-time world champion Mao Asada is 26, but she took a season off after Sochi and this year failed to make the worlds team.

Wagner reflected on her world silver medal and her three national championships. She knows they mean nothing next week.

“I have to prove myself all over again,” she said.

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NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

More Russians retroactively disqualified from 2012 Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Three Russian athletes have been disqualified from the 2012 Olympics after failing doping retests, the country’s track and field federation said.

Hammer throwers Maria Bespalova and Gulfiya Khanafeeva and triple jumper Viktoria Valyukevich were all disqualified. None were medalists.

The disqualifications of Bespalova and Khanafeeva mean all three Russian women who competed in the hammer throw in 2012 have tested positive for doping. Tatyana Lysenko was the original winner, but was stripped of her gold medal in October.

Valyukevich, a former European indoor champion, was eighth in the triple jump at the 2012 Olympics and finished two places ahead of Russian teammate Tatyana Lebedeva, who has been stripped of two medals from the 2008 Beijing Games for doping.

In Tuesday’s statement, Russian officials didn’t say which substances were involved. The International Olympic Committee had no immediate comment.

It is the third time Khanafeeva, who won European championship silver in 2005, has been found guilty of a doping offense. She previously served bans in 2002 for a positive test and in 2008 for providing someone else’s urine in a drug test sample.

Bespalova is currently serving a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned steroid in 2015.

Since the IOC started retesting samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games last year, more than 30 Russians in various sports have tested positive. That makes them the largest group out of more than 100 positive tests. Seven more Russians have been disqualified for other doping offenses.

Russia has lost 26 Olympic medals as a result, most of them in track and field. Many of the cases involve turinabol, a substance which former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov has admitted supplying to athletes in a steroid cocktail.

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