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World’s best cross-country skier suspended, investigation set

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — Defending cross-country World Cup overall champion Therese Johaug was handed a two-month provisional suspension Wednesday pending a full investigation into her positive doping test.

Johaug, one of Norway’s most decorated female cross-country skiers, tested positive for the steroid clostebol. The Norwegian ski federation said the drug came from a lotion given to her by team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen to treat sunburn on her lips during high-altitude training in Italy in August.

In a tear-filled news conference last week, Johaug insisted she was without guilt and said Bendiksen had assured her the lotion did not contain any banned substance.

Anti-Doping Norway imposed a provisional suspension until Dec. 18, meaning Johaug will miss the start of the World Cup season.

In a statement issued by the Norwegian ski federation, Johaug said she wouldn’t appeal the decision.

“Now I will focus on what’s most important: working for a full acquittal,” she said.

Niels Kiaer, an attorney for the agency, told The Associated Press that investigators will evaluate the case more closely in coming weeks to determine the appropriate penalty. He said under international doping rules that could range between a two-month suspension to a four-year ban.

“The fact that she has now been suspended provisionally means she has some degree of fault,” Kiaer said. “Which degree of fault is what we will now investigate.”

The 28-year-old Johaug has three Olympic medals and 11 World Championship medals, including seven golds. She won gold in the 4×5 kilometer relay at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, with a bronze and silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She’s won the overall World Cup title twice.

Anti-doping Norway also launched an investigation into Bendiksen, who resigned as team doctor after taking the blame for Johaug’s positive test.

“It now seems fairly clear that it was caused by a medicine delivered by the doctor,” Kiaer said. “We need to evaluate if he also is in breach of the rules.”

Johaug’s case has rattled Norway and comes just months after its top male cross-country skier, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, got a two-month suspension for a doping infringement related to an asthma medication.

Norwegian cross-country skiers have dominated both the men’s and women’s competitions in recent years.

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Gymnastics doctor’s lawyers want trial moved, cite media coverage

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting dozens of athletes are pushing to have his trial moved out of the Lansing area.

The Lansing State Journal reports that attorneys representing Larry Nassar filed a change-of-venue request because of what they called “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” that they say has made it difficult for Nassar to get a fair trial in the area.

The media attention grew more intense this week when 21-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in Michigan. He has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in an unrelated case but has not been sentenced.

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Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 231.21
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 215.98
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 207.17
6. Mariah Bell (USA) — 188.56
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 178.25

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53