Simone Biles

Nominative lists out for World Gymnastics Championships

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USA Gymnastics isn’t expected to announce its women’s team for the World Championships until Sept. 15, but every nation had to submit preliminary “nominative lists” to the International Gymnastics Federation.

The lists give a glimpse into what the World Championships field could look like in Antwerp, Belgium, from Sept. 30-Oct. 6. Of course, changes can still be made.

Here are the full men’s list and the full women’s list.

Women’s notes

The storyline heading into the U.S. women’s selection camp later this month is who the fourth member of the World Championships team will be. Simone BilesKyla Ross and McKayla Maroney are considered locks to be on the team. All three were on the nominative lists. The fourth could be Brenna Dowell, who was third in the all-around at August’s National Championships behind Biles and Ross. Dowell is on the nominative list, but she could very well just be a placeholder.

The U.S. listed Biles and Ross for the all-around, Maroney for vault and floor exercise and Dowell for uneven bars and balance beam. U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi has said Maroney still has a chance to compete in the all-around despite not doing all four events at nationals.

There is no team event at this year’s World Championships. Therefore, the individual all-around is the biggest single event. If you remember the 2012 Olympics, this was a U.S.-Russia affair.

The Russians listed for the all-around 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina and Tatiana Nabieva, who was seventh in the all-around at 2010 worlds but was not selected for the 2012 Olympic team. Mustafina won the all-around at the 2013 European Championships and World University Games.

Olympic all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova is also listed for Russia, but only on balance beam. She has reportedly dealt with health issues recently, putting her status for Antwerp in doubt.

Also on the list, from Uzbekistan, is Oksana Chusovitina. Chusovitina, 38, won two gold medals at the 1991 World Championships competing for the Soviet Union. She’s an 11-time world medalist (nine on vault) and a six-time Olympian with the Unified Team, Uzbekistan and Germany.

Men’s notes

The U.S. men’s team on the nominative list is the same as was announced shortly after worlds, following Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva‘s withdrawal.

U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak is the only American man entered in the all-around on the nominative list, but, again, this can change. The others on the list are Olympians John Orozco (pommel horse, parallel bars, high bar) and Jake Dalton (floor exercise, vault, parallel bars, high bar) and past worlds team members Alex Naddour (pommel horse, still rings), Brandon Wynn (rings) and Steven Legendre (floor exercise, vault).

The all-around favorite will be the man who has won the last three world titles — Japan’s Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura. Uchimura is entered in all six events on the nominative list. He’s the only man to win three world all-around titles. Russian woman Svetlana Khorkina is the only other gymnast to win three world all-around titles, but hers were not consecutive.

Stretcher brought out for athlete injury in table tennis

Maria Sharapova appears set to miss Tokyo Olympics

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Maria Sharapova, who would have a difficult time qualifying for the Olympics next year, committed to play an event in California the week of the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova is scheduled to play World Team Tennis matches in California during the Olympic tennis events in late July, according to a press release. Sharapova’s longtime agent hasn’t responded to a message seeking confirmation that she is ruling out the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova, 32 and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was barred from the Rio Games due to her 15-month meldonium suspension in 2016 and 2017. That alone could rule her ineligible for Tokyo, given the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Russia on Monday.

Sharapova is ranked No. 131 after a season shortened by shoulder surgery. She would have to be among the top four ranked Russian women after the French Open in June for possible automatic Olympic qualification. She is currently the 14th Russian.

Olympic eligibility rules include minimum participation requirements in Fed Cup, which Sharapova hasn’t done in this Olympic cycle, though exceptions can be made.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said in 2017. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility. One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

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Russia banned from Olympics, world champs for 4 years; athletes could compete as neutrals

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Russia is banned from the next two Olympics and other major sports events for four years, though its athletes could still compete without representing the country if cleared by anti-doping authorities.

Russia’s hosting of world championships in Olympic sports also face being stripped after the World Anti-Doping Agency executive committee approved a full slate of recommended sanctions for tampering with a Moscow laboratory database.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in major events — including world championships — only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or their data was not manipulated, according to the WADA ruling. “In this circumstance, they may not represent the Russian Federation,” according to a WADA release.

“While I understand the calls for a blanket ban on all Russian athletes whether or not they are implicated by the data, it was the unanimous view of the CRC [compliance review committee], which includes an athlete, that in this case, those who could prove their innocence should not be punished, and I am pleased that the WADA ExCo [executive committee] agreed with this,” WADA CRC chairman Jonathan Taylor said.

There are 145 unnamed athletes within WADA’s “target group of most suspicious athletes” from 2012-15 who would not be allowed to compete at the Olympics, Taylor said, adding that it’s possible those names will be made public. About one-third of them are still active.

Russia’s anti-doping agency can appeal the decision within 21 days. Russia previously signaled it would appeal the ruling.

“The decision will come into effect only when it becomes final ie when either RUSADA accepts it or it is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” a WADA spokesperson said in an email.

Russia avoided blanket bans for the Rio and PyeongChang Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed by media and WADA investigations after Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Approved Russian athletes competed as neutrals — “Olympic Athletes from Russia” — including in team sports in PyeongChang. Those Russians combined to earn two gold medals (figure skater Alina Zagitova and men’s hockey) and 17 overall, compared to the leading 33 Russia earned at the Sochi Olympics before medals were stripped for doping.

“Will Russian athletes be accepted as Olympic Athletes from Russia?” during the ban, Taylor said. “No, they are neutral athletes, which means not representatives of any country. Not representatives of Russia.”

Going forward, “they cannot use the name of the country in the name of the team,” WADA president-elect Witold Bańka told The Associated Press.

Two of the 168 Russians who competed in PyeongChang failed drug tests and were punished for doping.

More recent evidence shows that Russian authorities tampered with a Moscow laboratory database to hide hundreds of potential doping cases and falsely shift the blame onto whistleblowers, WADA investigators and the International Olympic Committee said last month. “Flagrant manipulation” of the Moscow lab data was “an insult to the sporting movement worldwide,” the IOC said last month.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order … but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.

Russia will be allowed to participate in the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, that open Jan. 9.

WADA’s inability to fully expel Russia from the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games frustrated the doping watchdog’s vice president.

“I’m not happy with the decision we made today. But this is as far as we could go,” said Linda Helleland, a Norwegian lawmaker who serves on WADA executive committee and has long pushed for a tougher line against Russia. “This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen. I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize on all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced.”

Although the IOC has called for the strongest possible sanctions, it wants those sanctions directed at Russian state authorities rather than athletes or Olympic officials.

“To allow Russia to escape a complete ban is yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “And, in turn, the reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform.”

Russia’s Olympic champion women’s handball team is currently competing at the world championships in Japan. Its next match is Tuesday against Montenegro. Russia has been the scheduled host for the world luge championships in Sochi in mid-February.

The “major sports” events that fall under WADA’s sanctions do not include European Championships or other non-world championships events such as tennis’ upcoming Australian Open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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