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Two U.S. track and field athletes in line for Olympic medals after DQs

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Another batch of positive retests from 2008 Olympic doping samples could lead to a pair of Americans being upgraded to bronze medals from the Beijing Games.

Those Americans are high jumper Chaunté Lowe and pole vaulter Derek Miles.

In the women’s high jump, doping samples from the original third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers all came back positive for the banned steroid turinabol.

The third-place finisher was 2012 Olympic champion Anna Chicherova. The fourth-place finisher was 2004 Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko. Both are from Russia, and both remain Olympic champions.

Lowe finished sixth originally in Beijing.

The International Olympic Committee disqualified the Beijing results of Chicherova, Slesarenko and fifth-place Vita Palamar of Ukraine. It requested track and field’s international governing body, the IAAF, to modify results and take any further action.

In the pole vault, Ukraine’s Denis Yurchenko was stripped of his bronze medal. Miles finished fourth and would be in line to earn the bronze should the medal be reallocated.

“I’d heard they were going back and testing samples of Ukrainian and Russian athletes from eight years ago,” Miles said, according to the (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader. “There was another Ukrainian who’d tested positive recently and he’d been a training partner with Yurchenko.

“The more I think about it, the cool thing about this is what it would mean for the people close to me. A lot of people went through a lot — my wife, my parents, [coach] Lucky Huber, my agents and a bunch of others — with me throughout my career. That will be the fun part now. Maybe we’ll have a little mini-celebration at home.”

In all, the IOC stripped 10 athletes of 2008 Olympic medals across track and field, weightlifting and wrestling on Thursday.

MORE: Weightlifters reportedly refuse to return Olympic medals

So I find out today that I was supposed to be in this picture. Finally an Olympic Bronze medalist 8 years later.

A post shared by Chaunte Lowe Howard (@chauntelowe) on

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics

USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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