Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte

U.S. Swimming Championships entry lists released

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Michael Phelps could swim up to four events at next week’s U.S. Championships, and he may face Ryan Lochte in all of them.

Here are the top U.S. swimmers’ listed events on psych sheets (entry lists) released Thursday:

Phelps — 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Lochte — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Missy Franklin — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
Katie Ledecky — 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 400m individual medley

The U.S. Championships serve as a qualifying meet for the year’s biggest international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24. Both the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacs serve as qualifying meets for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Swimmers who make the team for Pan Pacs (essentially those who finish in the top two of an individual event at Nationals) are open to enter other events at Pan Pacs.

Therefore, it’s not a big deal for swimmers such as Phelps, Lochte, Franklin and Ledecky to swim a packed schedule at Nationals. The priority is making the team for Pan Pacs in one event, and they can add to their plates in Australia.

What’s more, swimmers (Lochte especially) tend to enter more events at Nationals than they plan to swim to be safe. Expect some or all of the big names to scratch out of events next week (Ledecky surely must).

So, with those caveats in mind, here are some takeaways:

The most interesting news is what Phelps isn’t entered in — the 200m freestyle. He’s the third-fastest American in the event this year (full U.S. rankings here) and finished second to French training partner Yannick Agnel in the 200m free at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on June 21.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all for Phelps to swim the 200m free at Pan Pacs, assuming he makes that team of course.

Lochte, coming back from an aggravation of his November knee injury, is entered in all of the events he’s been known to swim at major international meets, except the 400m IM, which he swore off after the London Olympics but swam in at least one domestic meet in 2013 (but not at Nationals or Worlds).

Franklin’s events are unsurprising as well. She won all four of those events at last year’s Nationals and won three of them at the World Championships.

Ledecky would have to be Superwoman to swim in all of her entered events (she might be, actually, if you’ve seen her times this year).

Watch to see if she swims the 200m free. She finished second to Franklin in it at last year’s Nationals but dropped it for Worlds because it jammed her schedule. Ledecky has been faster than the World champion Franklin and Olympic champion Allison Schmitt in the 200m free this year.

Ledecky has never raced the 50m free or 100m free at Nationals, nor the IMs. Expect her to scratch those and focus on, at most, the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles.

Here’s the broadcast schedule for Nationals, from Irvine, Calif.:

Wednesday — 9-11 p.m. ET, Universal Sports
Saturday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 11-midnight, NBCSN

USA Swimming will also have a live webcast of the entire meet here. Daily prelims start at noon ET, with finals at 9 p.m. ET.

Meb Keflezighi, Caroline Wozniacki to run New York City Marathon

Russian skeleton stars banned from World Cups

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The two Russians who had their medals from the Sochi Olympics stripped because of doping have been barred from competing in World Cup races, at least temporarily.

It’s the latest sanction against Alexander Tretiyakov and Elena Nikitina, who had their medals — gold for Tretiyakov, bronze for Nikitina — taken away Wednesday after it was determined they were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program for Sochi.

They have already been banned from future Olympics and now may have no place to slide.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation handed down the suspensions Thursday, effective immediately.

Tretiyakov and Nikitina were both planning to compete in World Cup races at Whistler, B.C., this weekend.

In all, four Russians have been suspended by the IBSF.

Along with Tretiyakov and Nikitina, Maria Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna — who have been racing on the lesser-tier Intercontinental Cup Circuit this season — were also banned, just as they were by the IOC.

All four are expected to appeal, and the IBSF said they will be entitled to a hearing if that happens.

“Sport is all about who’s the best on that day and if anything compromises that, like the situations in Sochi, it taints everything and kind of undermines the fundamental belief in the system and the competition itself,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also is a vice president with the IBSF. “This is kind of righting the ship.”

The IBSF’s decision is a strong one and is in stark contrast to one made by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which is allowing Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping in Sochi to compete in World Cup events this weekend.

FIS wants to see detailed reasons why the IOC disciplinary panel reached its decisions about the Russian athletes.

The IBSF isn’t waiting.

“I understand that it was a difference of culture and that the Russians don’t believe they did anything wrong,” U.S. skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender said after the IOC decision to strip the medals and issue the Olympic bans was announced Wednesday. “But this was the only way to fix it.”

Uhlaender should be promoted to the bronze medal spot once Nikitina, as the IOC has ordered, surrenders what had been her bronze from Sochi.

Tretiyakov was the men’s gold medalist; the revised results for that event would have Latvia’s Martins Dukurs getting gold, Matt Antoine of the U.S. bumped up to silver and Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, Martins’ brother, taking bronze.

Uhlaender, originally fourth, would be third behind gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S.

Sliders lauded the IOC for doing the right thing, though noted that racers like Uhlaender and Tomass Dukurs — even once they have medals in hand — will never be able to replicate the moment on a podium that they should have had in Sochi.

“Having the physical medal’s cool, but most of it in my opinion is the experience of everything that happens,” Antoine said. “That’s what you cherish the most.”

Not having the top Russians on the World Cup circuit figures to have a major impact on the points standings.

Nikitina leads after the first two races of the season, including a win last weekend in Park City, Utah.

Tretiyakov is fourth in the men’s standings, including a bronze at the season opener in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Russian skiers banned from Olympics allowed to race World Cup opener

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics can compete in World Cup races this weekend because the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been unable to prosecute its own cases in time.

Six Russians, including two Sochi medalists, were retroactively disqualified from the Winter Games this month and banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC.

FIS previously blocked all six from competing with interim suspensions, but those expired on Oct. 31. The International Olympic Committee judging panel then reached its verdicts this month.

However, FIS said Thursday that its own judicial body lacks key IOC documents to process cases.

“Consequently, the FIS Doping Panel is obliged to wait until the IOC Disciplinary Commission reasoned decisions are submitted with details of the evidence relied on,” said the governing body, which is responsible for imposing competition bans.

“As a consequence the active athletes are eligible to compete in FIS including World Cup competitions for the time being,” FIS said.

The World Cup season for men and women begins Friday in Ruka, Finland, with sprint and long-distance racing.

Organizers had not published starting lists Thursday for the three-day meeting and it was unclear which of the six intend to start.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin both won multiple medals in Sochi but were stripped by the IOC. The others suspended by the IOC were Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.

FIS said rules governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency meant it could not re-impose interim bans without “a specific allegation” plus evidence.

Attempting to assure cross-country skiers they will not be competing against doped rivals, FIS said an additional and independent testing program for Russians has been in operation since June and has taken about 250 blood and urine samples.

The three-man IOC disciplinary panel — chaired by Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and member of the Olympic body’s executive board — has not issued detailed reasons for judgments in 10 cases from Sochi so far completed in cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Without positive doping tests, the panel used evidence of state-backed cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles in the Sochi laboratory first gathered last year by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.

At least 18 more Russian athletes are having their cases prosecuted in an ongoing series of hearings in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Wednesday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it would update “within the next days” action against four Russians, including the Sochi gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina won a skeleton World Cup race last weekend in Park City, Utah — a result which may soon be overturned by the IBSF.

All the Russian athletes disqualified by the IOC can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Dec. 5, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce after a board meeting if the Russian team will be banned from the Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang.

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