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Alysia Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

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NEW YORK — U.S. 800m runner Alysia Montaño is set to earn her first two world outdoor championships medals, four and six years after she ran those races. She wasn’t in a celebratory mood about the news Saturday evening.

Russian Maria Savinova, the 2012 Olympic 800m champion, was stripped of results from 2010 to 2013 and given a four-year ban due to doping derived from biological passport evidence on Friday.

That means Savinova loses her 2011 World Championships 800m gold medal and 2013 Worlds silver medal. Montaño was fourth in both of those races and stands to be upgraded to a pair of bronze medals, pending a Savinova appeal.

Montaño has been outspoken against track and field’s issues in recent years, specifically the widespread doping problem. Savinova was first implicated more than two years ago.

So when Montaño learned the Savinova news while traveling to New York on Friday to race in the Millrose Games on Saturday, it wasn’t exactly a relief or joyous. She found out via Twitter mentions.

“I took it the same way I’ve taken every other type of news of this caliber and didn’t really think that much of it until I got to look it up myself,” Montaño said after finishing second in an indoor 500m race Saturday, her first since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. “I feel like for the past three years people have been tweeting me, good job, congratulations, and no news has come out.”

Montaño said the more overriding feeling was a bummer that she was in New York without her family. And it must be said she was exhausted and in need of fresh air after her race, not exactly the best environment to discuss the matter at hand.

“Here’s my moment, woo,” she said without excitement in her voice. “I should not be finding out from everybody else in Twitter mentions. There was nothing in my inbox from the federation.”

There has always been a part of Montaño that believed medals would never be redistributed. Now, she’s one step closer to receiving them.

On Friday, a post on her Facebook account read, “2 Medals from the 2011 & 2013 World Championships,” with a link to a Savinova article.

“It’s hard to say what it’s going to feel like,” to get the medals, she said. “Feelings are feelings. I only feel them when I have them.”

MORE: Russia track and field ban set for world champs

Usain Bolt reveals extent of injury after hearing doubts

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Usain Bolt shared the extent of his injury — a torn hamstring requiring three months of rehab — after people questioned if he was really hurt at the world championships Saturday, according to tweets from his account since deleted.

“I don’t usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,” was posted on Bolt’s account. “I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway (sic) & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.”

Bolt pulled up with the leg injury running anchor on the 4x100m relay at worlds and then tumbled onto the track not yet halfway to the finish line.

A wheelchair was brought out, but Bolt got up and walked across the finish line, aided by his teammates.

Since, unconfirmed reports have surfaced that Bolt could play in a Manchester United exhibition game, but the seriousness of his injury revealed Thursday could put an end to that, at least for now.

The injury has not sidelined Bolt completely. He was able to go bowling earlier this week.

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team hits reset at P&G Championships

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The sprawling sleeve of tattoos running down Alex Naddour‘s left arm is unmissable. The American flag on the shoulder. The Olympic rings running down the inside of his forearm. They serve as a testament to the Olympic bronze medalist’s passion and his longevity.

Oh and if they happen to send a message to the sea of new faces the national team captain finds himself surrounded by these days, all the better.

At 26, Naddour admits he’s “kind of the old guy,” and he’s not wrong. The core of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams are hurt, retired or both. Jonathan Horton. Jake Dalton. Danell Leyva. John Orozco. Chris Brooks. All have moved on.

Four-time national champion Sam Mikulak is recovering from his second major Achilles injury. Donnell Whittenburg is searching to regain the form that made him an all-around finalist at the 2015 World Championships.

Naddour isn’t exactly healthy, either, just six months removed from an arm issue he suffered at a meet in February that will limit him to just pommel horse and rings when the P&G Championships begin on Thursday night.

P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
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That’s fine. Naddour still has time. He’s well aware that he’s a bridge of sorts between the old generation and the next one.

“I want these guys to feel what we felt [when we came up],” Naddour said. “We looked up to those guys [before us] and hopefully these guys look up to me because I’m team captain. Hopefully they take what I have to say seriously and take my experience seriously to help them get ready for what they need to get ready for.”

Namely, returning the U.S. to international prominence. While the women’s program has become a podium-hogging machine over the last decade, the men have struggled with inconsistency. They finished fifth in the team finals in both 2012 and 2016.

Though there have been flashes of individual success — like Leyva’s bronze in the all-around in London and Naddour’s bronze on pommel horse in Rio — the Americans have been on a treadmill, one that cost national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika his job last fall.

Enter Brett McClure. The 2004 Olympic team silver medalist was appointed the “high performance director” in February and charged with providing a needed jolt. Consider the message received.

“He’s the type of person that’s not going to beat around the bush,” Whittenburg said. “If something is bothering him, he’s going to let you know straight up. If there’s a problem, how do we fix it? I feel like the last couple [Olympic cycles] I felt we were missing that stern leadership. Sometimes you can’t be the nice guy all the time.”

The men have borrowed a page from former women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi‘s playbook. Training camps are now treated more like competitions, with members of the national team and world championship teams flown in to watch. The goal is creating a more competitive environment.

“You’re saluting, and it’s like you’re at championships, so you have to do your best,” Naddour said. “It’s going to help the national team grow a lot quicker and adjust in those pressure situations.”

Good, because they’re coming. Even if Naddour, Mikulak and Whittenburg all make the world championships roster when it’s released after Saturday night’s competition, it leaves three spots for newcomers. No pressure or anything.

Yul Moldauer captured the AT&T American Cup in March, beating a field that included Olympic silver medalist Oleg Verniaiev. Akash Modi served as an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team and won the NCAA all-around title for Stanford this spring. Allan Bower and Eddie Penev are also in the mix.

The lights will come on. It’s time to get a gauge on how the strategic plan put in place after an underwhelming team performance in the Olympics is working.

“If the whole world watches this competition and is like, `we’ve got them,’ then boo us,” said Mikulak, who will compete on pommel horse and high bar. “The world doesn’t know what’s going on with USA Gymnastics until we show ourselves in this competition. I hope everyone competing has a good performance to show the world that we’re not as weak as we look to them.”

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