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IOC denies covering up 2008 Olympic doping cases from Jamaica

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC denied Monday that it covered up doping cases from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after a German TV program revealed that positive tests by Jamaican sprinters were not prosecuted.

German documentary maker Hajo Seppelt said “several” of the Caribbean island’s athletes had traces of clenbuterol, a banned muscle-building substance, in recent re-tests of 8-year-old urine samples.

No athletes were identified. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won three gold medals in world-record times and was the star of the Beijing Games.

The IOC said Monday it concluded there was no pattern of organized cheating, after consulting the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“After careful consideration, WADA informed the IOC further to the pattern analysis that the IOC had conducted that WADA could not find any significant and consistent pattern of abuse of clenbuterol in these cases and that it would be appropriate not to take these cases any further,” the IOC said in a statement.

The low levels of clenbuterol found, “below 1ng/ml,” was in the range to suggest “potential meat contamination cases,” the IOC said.

China has a reputation for using clenbuterol in livestock farming to increase animals’ muscle, and Olympic athletes were warned of contamination risks before going to Beijing.

Without naming Jamaica, the IOC said the number of clenbuterol cases in the re-tests was widespread.

“During the re-analysis of the stored urine samples from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, the laboratory found in a number of cases of athletes from a number of countries and from a number of different sports, very low levels of clenbuterol,” the IOC said in a statement.

The World Anti-Doping Agency cited a legal precedent when FIFA did not prosecute more than 100 positive tests for clenbuterol among players at the Under-17 World Cup in 2011 in Mexico, which also has a reputation for using the drug in farming.

“We acknowledge that the clenbuterol meat contamination issue is unsatisfactory,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli said in a WADA statement. “We will continue to invest in scientific research to try to solve this issue as quickly as possible.”

Seppelt and German network ARD have consistently revealed and reported on doping scandals, including working with whistleblowers to expose systematic cheating in Russian track and field.

Clenbuterol is best known as the substance that cost Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador the 2010 Tour de France title. Contador claimed his positive test was caused by contaminated beef brought to France from Spain. A Court for Arbitration for Sport panel judged that he did not intend to dope, and had ingested a contaminated supplement. Contador served a two-year ban and was stripped of the 2010 Tour win.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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