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LeBron James uninterested in Olympic 3-on-3, picks Dream Team anyway

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LeBron James most likely won’t be playing in the new 3-on-3 competition at the 2020 Olympics.

And it’s even less likely that Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson will participate.

But a trio of MJ, Magic and LeBron in a 3-on-3 tournament would be, let’s just say, formidable.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star didn’t hesitate when asked who his dream teammates would be for the Tokyo Games. That’s right, Michael and Magic — the leaders of the 1992 Dream Team.

When asked which current players he’d love to team with, James was a bit more cautious.

“I don’t know, I have to think about it,” James said before practice Sunday as he prepared for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

While James said fans shouldn’t expect to see him in the competition — it’s still unclear if the NBA will even allow its players to compete — he is happy the new hoops tournament was added.

“It’s great for basketball,” he said. “For us to be able to add another category to the Olympics, another basketball category, I think it’s pretty great. I haven’t seen the full layout of how they plan on executing it … are they going to use NBA guys, are they going to use college guys. I’m not quite sure.

“I’m not very good in a 3-on-3 thing. I’m more of a 5-on-5 guy. I stay out of the 1-on-1 matchups during our practice, the 2-on-2 and the 3-on-3s. So probably not. I probably won’t be a part of the 3-on-3 matchup.”

The new Olympic event was added Friday by the International Olympic Committee. There will be eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams competing. As far as what teams are selected and how teams qualify, that’s still unclear.

“They don’t want just the basketball powers to compete in 3-on-3,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “FIBA will get together and figure out how teams will qualify. They will definitely want to reward countries that have been doing a lot of 3-on-3 activities.”

The U.S. has been pushing 3-on-3 over the past few years and held a national tournament last month. The winners will head to the World Cup in France later this month.

“The last few years, we have made a major push in 3-on-3 basketball with our nationwide Dew NBA 3X tour and several international 3-on-3 competitions. The Olympic stage will provide these elite athletes with the opportunity to further demonstrate their talents,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said.

NBA players grew up playing 3-on-3 and welcomed its addition, even if they don’t end up playing.

Draymond Green is one those players, and said one reason he is in a favor of it is because “guys can win that are not pro athletes.”

The Golden State Warriors forward said “that could be really good. You see in these other sports where they go compete in the Olympics but they have regular day jobs. I think that can be like that for 3-on-3. So I think that can be great.”

The U.S. has never won a men’s gold medal while playing in the 3-on-3 World Cup, which began in 2012. Serbia has won the title twice and Qatar was the champion in 2014. The Americans won the silver in 2016 after finishing 14th in 2014.

The rules are made for up-tempo competition .

With one 10-minute period, the 3-on-3 is a lot quicker than its 5-on-5 counterpart. A game can end even sooner if a team scores 21 points in less than 10 minutes. If the game is tied after 10 minutes, it goes into overtime with the first team scoring two points in OT wins.

Those rules make a big difference in limiting the Americans’ depth, which they have used to overwhelm opponents in traditional Olympic basketball games.

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Female runners with high testosterone face new restriction

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Female runners with high testosterone must reduce those levels or will not be allowed in international races between 400m and the mile, according to an IAAF rule starting Nov. 1.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who was gender tested in 2009, is expected to be affected, according to South Africa’s Olympic Committee.

“Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD [difference of sexual development] has cheated, they are about leveling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition.”

The IAAF, after funding a study along with the World Anti-Doping Agency, said research showed the following natural testosterone levels:

Most women: .12-1.79 nanomoles per liter in blood
Normal men after puberty: 7.7-29.4 nmol/L

The IAAF rule forces all women who race the 400m through mile and who are androgen-sensitive to restrict their ratio to below five. It said women who have “a difference of sexual development” can have natural testosterone levels beyond the normal male range.

The IAAF and WADA-funded study found that women with high testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track.

Research showed 7.1 of every 1,000 elite female track and field athletes have elevated testosterone, most of which were runners in events between 400m and the mile.

“The treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill taken by millions of women around the world,” an IAAF doctor said in the release. “No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery.”

The IAAF had gender-verification testing in place until 2011, when it was replaced with a test for abnormally high levels of natural testosterone. Under that rule, female athletes with a ratio of 10 nmol/L or higher could only compete against women if they had an operation or took hormones to reduce their testosterone level.

In July 2015, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) suspended the IAAF’s regulation, ruling that it lacked sufficient scientific backing and was therefore unjustifiably discriminatory.

The gender-testing issue was raised in 2009, when Semenya won the world 800m title by nearly 2.5 seconds at age 18. Word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo sex testing.

Semenya was not cleared to run for 11 months and came back to earn silver at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, while the testosterone-limiting rule was in effect, behind Russian Maria Savinova, who has since been stripped of her golds for doping.

Semenya then had a lull in performance after the London Games while the testosterone-limiting rule was still in effect. After CAS suspended the rule in 2015, Semenya peaked again in 2016, going undefeated in 800m races, twice breaking the national record and comfortably winning Olympic gold.

Semenya has never spoken publicly in detail about her situation. It has never been publicly verified that Semenya’s body naturally produces abnormally high levels of testosterone or that she ever took hormone suppressants.

An image with the sentence, “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged,” was posted on Semenya’s social media Wednesday after reports were first published about the new rule.

Her default position is generally to talk only about her running, but she spoke out against her critics in a speech after accepting South Africa’s Sportswoman of the Year in November 2016.

“They say she talks like a man, she walks like a man, she runs like a man,” Semenya said, before finishing off the series with an Afrikaans word that loosely translates to “Get lost.”

South Africa’s Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam said Thursday his organization was “disappointed by the IAAF ruling.”

“Especially given that Caster’s name is again being dragged through the publicity mill,” he said in a press release. “We are concerned that the decisions have been approved without taking into account all factors into consideration, as these factors have not been properly nor fully ventilated. We wish to place on record that Caster Semenya has never engaged in any performance-enhancing activities and any enhanced testosterone levels are due solely to her genetic make-up.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympic pairs champions take indefinite break

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Aljona Savchenko, the Olympic pairs champion with Bruno Massot, said they are taking an indefinite break from competition, according to German press agency DPA.

Savchenko and Massot will perform in ice shows next fall and winter, which could preclude them from competing in major events like the Grand Prix season (late October to early December) and the European Championships in January.

The German pair followed their title in PyeongChang with a world title last month, breaking a four-year-old world-record score and winning by the largest margin (20.31 points) in pairs at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was replaced 14 years ago.

Savchenko, 34 and a five-time Olympian, became the oldest Olympic pairs gold medalist. She then claimed her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

The French-born Massot, 29, competed in his first Olympics in PyeongChang and earned his first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

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