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Pole vaulter successfully blames positive cocaine test on kissing a stranger

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Star Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber tested positive for cocaine before the Rio Olympics following a tryst with a woman he met on Craigslist.

The 2015 world champion was permitted to compete in Brazil after it was determined he inadvertently ingested trace amounts of the banned substance through kissing. Barber called the positive test “a complete shock.”

The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada made its decision Aug. 11, four days before Barber competed in Rio de Janeiro, where he finished 10th. The report wasn’t released until Thursday.

“It was quite an ordeal going into the Olympics, but everything worked out the way it was supposed to,” Barber said during a conference call.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport proposed a four-year competition ban. Barber wasn’t suspended but was stripped of his 2016 national title.

“This has been a learning experience for Shawn,” Athletics Canada, the nation’s governing track and field body, said in a statement. “He is a young athlete learning how to compete on the field of play, and prepare away from it.”

According to the report, Barber used cocaine July 8, the night before he won the Canadian title in Edmonton, Alberta. He had posted in the “casual encounter” section of Craigslist for a “professional person” to engage in a sexual rendezvous as a way to relieve stress. He specified he wanted a woman who was drug- and disease-free, the report said.

The woman, referred to as “W” in the report, testified that she consumed cocaine before she met Barber and then again in the bathroom of his hotel room. She said at his hearing he could not have known she’d used the drug, and she felt “horrible about what happened.”

The woman also said she had consumed a 26-ounce bottle of vodka that night and had four or five drinks before meeting Barber. She said he declined her offer of a drink. The two did not exchange money, the report said.

Arbitrator Ross Dumoulin wrote in his decision that the encounter was a “pre-meditated effort” by Barber to have a sex with “a stranger in a hotel room. Exercising utmost caution would require him to have made inquiries to satisfy himself that there was no cocaine involved,” he added.

Barber was a strong hope for a medal at the Rio Olympics after winning the 2015 world title in Beijing. But he struggled in the rainy conditions in Rio.

Last fall, Barber’s father, George, was banned by Athletics Canada. George Barber had acted as Shawn’s coach until the governing body learned of his 2007 criminal conviction on charges of having sex with a student while employed at a U.S. high school.

Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

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Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

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Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

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