Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps suspended 6 months, no World Championships

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USA Swimming suspended Michael Phelps for six months and withdrew him from the 2015 World Championships, which are in 10 months, on Monday, six days after his arrest on DUI charges.

He is still eligible to swim in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, the only path to making it to the Rio Olympics.

Full details from USA Swimming:

  • Six-Month Suspension from Competition. Phelps will be permitted to train with his member club, but shall be ineligible to participate in USA Swimming-sanctioned competitions through April 6, 2015.
  • Withdrawal from the 2015 World Championship Team. Phelps and USA Swimming each agree that Phelps will not represent the United States at the 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, from August 2-9.
  • Forfeiture of USA Swimming’s Monthly Stipend. The monthly payments from USA Swimming will be halted during the six-month suspension period.

“Membership in USA Swimming, and particularly at the National Team level, includes a clear obligation to adhere to our Code of Conduct,” USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said in a press release. “Should an infraction occur, it is our responsibility to take appropriate action based on the individual case. Michael’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences. Michael has publicly acknowledged the impact of his decisions, his accountability especially due to his stature in the sport and the steps necessary for self-improvement. We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”

The 2015 World Championships are the biggest meet between now and the 2016 Olympics, which would potentially be Phelps’ fifth Games. Phelps, 29, is six months into a competitive comeback after a 20-month retirement following the London Olympics.

Phelps is ineligible to swim in the next three USA Swimming Grand Prix meets in Minneapolis (November), Austin, Texas (January), and Orlando (February).

His next eligible USA Swimming Grand Prix meet is in Mesa, Ariz., in April. Phelps made his competitive comeback at the Mesa meet six months ago.

No decision has been made on Phelps’ nominations for USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards, Nov. 24 in New York. Phelps received an Awards-leading five nominations for the top performances this year.

“We think the sanctions are appropriate, and we are glad that Michael is seeking help,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “We are grateful that nobody was hurt and appreciate the speed at which USA Swimming and Michael took action.”

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals, said he was stepping away from swimming to attend an unspecified program to get “the help I need,” according to posts on his social media pages Sunday.

It’s an in-patient, six-week program, according to reports citing Phelps’ representatives.

The past few days have been extremely difficult. I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am…

Posted by Michael Phelps on Sunday, October 5, 2014

Phelps was traveling 84mph in a 45mph zone, pulled over and arrested early Tuesday morning, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority, whose documents said Phelps “appeared to be under the influence,” and was unable to perform standard field sobriety tests.

Phelps had a blood-alcohol level of .14 percent, above the Maryland legal limit of .08, and was “disoriented” and “argumentative,” according to police documents. The officer smelled alcohol in Phelps’ white Land Rover and in his breath. Phelps said he had “three or four drinks,” the last two hours earlier, according to police documents.

In 2004, Phelps was sentenced to 18 months probation after pleading guilty to drunken driving shortly after the Athens Olympics.

In 2009, USA Swimming suspended Phelps three months after a photo surfaced of him using a marijuana pipe. He was not charged.

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal rekindle record bids at French Open

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Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will play on the same day at the French Open through the quarterfinals, assuming each advances that far and the weather doesn’t wreak havoc. Each time they walk on the crushed red clay, the legends move closer to tying all-time records.

Williams, in her 10th bid since returning from childbirth to tie Margaret Court‘s 24 Grand Slam singles titles, battled and then rolled past 102nd-ranked countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0.

“I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena,” she said of the difference between a 74-minute first set and a 27-minute second set. “I love the clay, and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.”

Nadal, in his second major since moving within one of Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Slam titles, swept 83rd-ranked Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

“Six months without playing a single tennis match is not easy,” said Nadal, who skipped the U.S. Open and then lost his third match at his comeback tournament in Rome. “I had to stop playing tennis for more than two months, so situation is difficult.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Their pursuits are very different.

Williams is already the greatest player in history by many measures, especially considering most of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and some at the Australian Open without the world’s best players.

Williams has lost all four of her major finals since her life-threatening childbirth. But she is not the favorite in Paris, despite the absence of 2019 champion Ash Barty of Australia and recent U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka. Williams hasn’t made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in four years and just went 16 months between competitive matches on clay.

She’s also battling an Achilles injury that affected her during a U.S. Open semifinal run three weeks ago. She’s spent most of her preparation time in France rehabbing.

“A ton of prayer,” she said, noting coming early to a post-match press conference to maximize her subsequent time handling the Achilles. “I’m doing so much for it.”

None of Williams’ potential first three opponents have ever beaten her. Next up: Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.

Like Williams, Nadal next plays on Wednesday. He gets Mackenzie McDonald, one of six American men to so far reach round two, the most since 1998.

For more than a decade, followers have debated the greatest male player in history between Nadal and Federer (and now Novak Djokovic). But not until winning the 2019 U.S. Open did Nadal move within one Slam of Federer’s total.

Now, Nadal can tie Federer and pass the Swiss if he wins the next two French Opens (and Federer doesn’t win the next Australian Open).

Nadal is going for his 13th crown in Paris, as usual downplaying his favorite status. This time, he’s noting the cool, slow, autumnal conditions and a new brand of tennis ball that is disadvantageous.

“Conditions here probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros,” Nadal said last week. “The conditions are a little bit extreme to play an outdoor tournament.”

Federer is not playing after two knee operations. Nadal, who at 34 is five years younger than Federer, has the opportunity in the coming matches and months to tip the scales in his favor. And help deny Djokovic, who is 33 with 17 Slams.

Nadal is not one to engage in that GOAT debate. Turns out, neither is Williams.

“You can’t compare two people that are equally great,” she said of Nadal and Federer. “I don’t understand why people want to pit who’s this, who’s that? They both have spectacular careers that 99 percent of people can only dream of and they both deserve.”

Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310.

Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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World silver medalist opts out of figure skating Grand Prix

Elizabet Tursynbaeva
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Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.

Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.

Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.

Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.

Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.

Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.

Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.

Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.

Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.

Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

MORE: Orser reacts to Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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