Michael Phelps leads USADA drug-testing statistics

Michael Phelps
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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.

Rising Japan swim star: I’m trying to be like Michael Phelps

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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Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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