Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps leads USADA drug-testing statistics

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Michael Phelps quickly became reacquainted with drug testers with his first swims since the 2012 Olympics this spring, logging at least eight tests under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s program in the second quarter of 2014.

No U.S. athlete was tested more in that three-month stretch by USADA’s documented statistics*. Phelps has 11 documented tests under USADA’s program for the year, trailing only Olympic silver medalist distance runner Galen Rupp, who has 12.

Rupp was tested a USADA documented statistics record 28 times in 2013.

*USADA’s quarterly statistics are interesting to break down, but they are not complete drug-testing histories. USADA stats documented 2,800 drug tests for the first six months of 2014, but the total number of tests was 4,808. That’s quite a difference and must be taken into account.

Here’s USADA’s disclaimer on its documented statistics:

*What the results do and do not include*

This search includes all in- and out-of-competition test sessions on U.S. athletes conducted under USADA’s Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, and Parapan American movements testing program. This search will also include test sessions conducted on U.S. athletes training internationally by other testing entities when the request for the test session was made by USADA. This search will not yield results conducted on U.S. athletes by other testing entities, if the test session was not requested or initiated by USADA, or test sessions conducted by USADA at the request of other sport organizations, events, international federations, or individuals. Because of these exclusions, the total numbers below are less than the numbers reported as USADA’s total testing numbers located here. This resource is intended to be used to determine the number of times USADA has organized a test on an individual athlete and is not an accurate representation of USADA’s total testing numbers or the total number of anti-doping tests an athlete will undergo by other and all testing and sport organizations.

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Notes from the second-quarter statistics released Wednesday:

*Phelps and cyclists Jacob Rathe and Tom Zirbel led the counts with eight documented tests each.

*Rupp led all track and field athletes with seven. Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, Olympic medalist sprinters who have failed drug tests, were tested five and three times, respectively.

*Norah Flatley and Lauren Hernandez, two gymnasts born in 2000, have each been tested at least once this year (in the first quarter). They are among the athletes trying to become the first Olympians born in the 2000s.

When Olympians retire, they generally withdraw from drug-testing pools. Phelps did that after the London Olympics, then re-entered the pool in 2013, knowing he had to wait nine months from the point he re-entered drug testing to be able to compete again. The waiting period for some other sports, such as gymnastics and figure skating, is at least six months.

*Olympic champion gymnast Jordyn Wieber, who hasn’t competed since London 2012 and recently said she is still deciding her competitive future, has not had a documented test since the third quarter of 2013. The other four members of the Fierce Five have been tested at least once in that span.

*2010 Olympic champion figure skater Evan Lysacek, who hasn’t competed since Vancouver 2010 and recently said his career is coming to an end, has not had a documented test yet this year.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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