Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte sets US Open meet record in 200 IM

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EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (AP) Ryan Lochte had a surprising reaction to his latest record-setting performance.

“A little disappointed,” Lochte said after breaking the meet record in the finals of the 200 meter individual medley Sunday at the U.S. Open.

Lochte’s time of 1:59.24 bested the previous mark of 1:59.26 set by Michael Phelps on Nov. 30, 2006. Xavier Mohammed finished second in 2:00.47, and Sam Stewart was third in 2:01.51.

“Whether I broke a world record or not, I always feel like I could go faster. No matter what the time was tonight, I knew I could faster,” Lochte said. “Overall, that was just not a good race.”

Lochte, who set the 200 IM world and American record (1:54:00) on July 28, 2011, started well in this race and was in second place at the first turn. After the second turn, the only question was how much Lochte would win by.

Yet, he was self-critical of his performance.

“The first part of the fly I felt fine and then I don’t know what happened,” Lochte said. “I think I tried too hard and it just backfired on me.”

The weeklong event at the Nassau County Aquatic Center was Lochte’s first USA Swimming-sanctioned meet after a 10-month suspension for his behavior during an incident at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

After a night out with teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen, Lochte had claimed in an interview with NBC that the taxi the swimmers were in had been pulled over and the athletes were robbed at gunpoint. In a subsequent interview with NBC, Lochte said he “over-exaggerated” the incident.

However, Brazilian authorities, citing videotape evidence, revealed the swimmers were confronted by security personnel after destroying a gas station bathroom.

Lochte eventually posted a mea culpa on his Twitter account.

Update: Lochte cleared of Rio incident charges

Following a fifth place finish in the 100 backstroke Saturday, Lochte said he viewed the 200 IM as an “indicator” of what he needed to work on in order to compete for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Swim Team. He went on to say that he only trained “once or twice a week” due to he and fiancee Kayla Rae Reid preparing for the birth of their infant son, Caiden.

When he spoke with reporters Sunday, Lochte reiterated his belief that he made the right decision to focus on his family life before stressing he was now planning on preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“It’s time for me to start doing my job. I’m not going to take a break after this. I’m just going to get back in and actually start training and start getting focused and start my swimming journey for 2020,” Lochte said. “I (have) three years. I need to get back to training and actually train. There’s only one way to go now and that’s up.”

Lochte, 33, would turn 36 during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Should he qualify for the team, it would mark Lochte’s fifth Games. He represented America in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Of his 12 Olympic medals, three have come in the 200 IM – silvers in 2004 and 2012, and bronze in 2008.

Lochte qualified for the final with a time of 1:56.22 in the preliminaries, nearly three seconds faster than Michael Andrew (1:59.12). Mohammed (1:59.29), John Shebat (1.59.70) and Grant Sanders (2:01.26) rounded out the top five preliminary round finishers.

“It’s a starting point,” Lochte said.

More: Lochte’s suspension ends, marks competition return

Russian skeleton stars banned from World Cups

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The two Russians who had their medals from the Sochi Games stripped because of doping have been barred from competing in World Cup races, at least temporarily.

It’s the latest sanction against Aleksandr Tretiakov and Elena Nikitina, who had their medals — gold for Tretiakov, bronze for Nikitina — taken away Wednesday after it was determined they were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Olympics. They have already been banned from future Olympics, and now may have no place to slide.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation handed down the suspensions Thursday, effective immediately. Tretiakov and Nikitina were both planning to compete in World Cup races at Whistler, British Columbia, this weekend.

In all, four Russians have been suspended by the IBSF. Along with Tretiakov and Nikitina, Mariia Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna — who have been racing on the lesser-tier Intercontinental Cup Circuit this season — were also banned, just as they were by the IOC. All four are expected to appeal, and the IBSF said they will be entitled to a hearing if that happens.

“Sport is all about who’s the best on that day and if anything compromises that, like the situations in Sochi, it taints everything and kind of undermines the fundamental belief in the system and the competition itself,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also is a vice president with the IBSF. “This is kind of righting the ship.”

The IBSF’s decision is a strong one and is in stark contrast to one made by the International Ski Federation, which is allowing Russian cross-country skiers who were found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics to compete in World Cup events this weekend. The FIS wants to see detailed reasons why the IOC disciplinary panel reached its decisions about the Russian athletes.

The IBSF isn’t waiting.

“I understand that it was a difference of culture and that the Russians don’t believe they did anything wrong,” U.S. women’s skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender said after the IOC decision to strip the medals and issue the Olympic bans was announced Wednesday. “But this was the only way to fix it.”

Uhlaender will be promoted to the bronze medal spot once Nikitina, as the IOC has ordered, surrenders what had been her bronze from Sochi and the IBSF updates the results. Tretiakov was the men’s gold-medalist; the revised order of finish for that event will now have Latvia’s Martins Dukurs getting gold, Matt Antoine of the U.S. bumped up to silver and Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, Martins’ brother, will become the bronze medalist.

Uhlaender, who was fourth, will soon officially be third behind gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S.

Sliders have lauded the IOC for doing the right thing, though noted that racers like Uhlaender and Tomass Dukurs — even once they have medals in hand — will never be able to replicate the moment on a podium that they should have had in Sochi.

“Having the physical medal’s cool, but most of it in my opinion is the experience of everything that happens,” Antoine said. “That’s what you cherish the most.”

Not having the top Russians on the World Cup circuit figures to have a major impact on the points standings.

Nikitina was the World Cup women’s points leader after the first two races of the season, and was coming off a victory last weekend in Park City, Utah. Tretiakov was fourth so far in the men’s standings, including a bronze at the season-opening race in Lake Placid, New York.

Russian skiers banned from Olympics allowed to race World Cup opener

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics can compete in World Cup races this weekend because the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been unable to prosecute its own cases in time.

Six Russians, including two Sochi medalists, were retroactively disqualified from the Winter Games this month and banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC.

FIS previously blocked all six from competing with interim suspensions, but those expired on Oct. 31. The International Olympic Committee judging panel then reached its verdicts this month.

However, FIS said Thursday that its own judicial body lacks key IOC documents to process cases.

“Consequently, the FIS Doping Panel is obliged to wait until the IOC Disciplinary Commission reasoned decisions are submitted with details of the evidence relied on,” said the governing body, which is responsible for imposing competition bans.

“As a consequence the active athletes are eligible to compete in FIS including World Cup competitions for the time being,” FIS said.

The World Cup season for men and women begins Friday in Ruka, Finland, with sprint and long-distance racing.

Organizers had not published starting lists Thursday for the three-day meeting and it was unclear which of the six intend to start.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin both won multiple medals in Sochi but were stripped by the IOC. The others suspended by the IOC were Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.

FIS said rules governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency meant it could not re-impose interim bans without “a specific allegation” plus evidence.

Attempting to assure cross-country skiers they will not be competing against doped rivals, FIS said an additional and independent testing program for Russians has been in operation since June and has taken about 250 blood and urine samples.

The three-man IOC disciplinary panel — chaired by Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and member of the Olympic body’s executive board — has not issued detailed reasons for judgments in 10 cases from Sochi so far completed in cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Without positive doping tests, the panel used evidence of state-backed cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles in the Sochi laboratory first gathered last year by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.

At least 18 more Russian athletes are having their cases prosecuted in an ongoing series of hearings in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Wednesday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it would update “within the next days” action against four Russians, including the Sochi gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina won a skeleton World Cup race last weekend in Park City, Utah — a result which may soon be overturned by the IBSF.

All the Russian athletes disqualified by the IOC can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Dec. 5, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce after a board meeting if the Russian team will be banned from the Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang.

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MORE: IOC sets date, time to announce Russia Olympic decision