Simone Biles

Simone Biles, U.S. close World Gymnastics Championships with most medals (video)

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Simone Biles won two more gold medals to wrap the most successful Olympics or World Championships by an American woman ever Sunday. Biles also led the U.S. to top the overall medal standings in Nanning, China.

Biles, 17, won the vault and floor exercise finals Sunday. She finished her second Worlds with four gold medals and one silver medal. Biles is the first U.S. woman to win five medals or four gold medals at a single Worlds.

She now has nine career Worlds medals in two appearances, one behind the U.S. record of 10 by Alicia Sacramone, who competed in five World Championships. Biles should be expected to break Sacramone’s record at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Also Sunday, Americans Danell Leyva and Jacob Dalton added parallel bars silver and vault bronze medals, respectively.

The U.S. totaled 10 medals in Nanning and won the overall Worlds medal count for a second straight year. It bagged 12 medals in 2013. Its high before that was nine at the 2005 World Championships, where all of the medals were won by the women.

China led the medal count at every Worlds and Olympics (artistic gymnastics only) from 2006 through 2012.

In her first event Sunday, Biles won a balance beam final littered with falls and major errors with a contrastingly clean 15.1 routine. Biles upgraded her beam bronze medal from 2013. China’s Bai Yaiwen took silver this year with 15.033, followed by Russian Aliya Mustafina. U.S. Olympic team champion Kyla Ross was sixth.

Mustafina, whose routine lacked a required element that cost her a half-point, earned 14.166, the lowest score to win an Olympics or World Championships medal since the new code of points was implemented in 2006.

Biles came back to win floor exercise about 90 minutes later, repeating as World champion on the event. Romania’s Larisa Iordache took silver behind Biles, just as she did in the all-around Friday. Mustafina earned bronze, relegating American MyKayla Skinner to fourth.

Epke Zonderland earned a standing ovation with a high-flying high bar routine to repeat as World champion after winning 2012 Olympic gold as well. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won silver, his third medal of the meet and 16th career Worlds medal.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev prevailed on parallel bars, ahead of Leyva, who won the World title on the event in 2011. Another American, Donnell Whittenburg, was seventh.

North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang won the men’s vault, dethroning reigning Olympic and World champion Yang Hak Seon of South Korea.

Dalton captured bronze, adding to his team bronze from Tuesday. Dalton also won team bronze at the 2011 World Championships and floor exercise silver in 2013.

Balance Beam
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.1 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Silver: Bai Yawen (CHN) — 15.033
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.166 — 2013 World champion
4. Asuke Teramoto (JPN) — 14.1
5. Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.066
6. Kyla Ross (USA) — 13.866
7. Ellie Black (CAN) — 13.7
8. Yao Jinnan (CHN) — 13.366 — 2011 World silver medalist

Women’s Floor Exercise
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.333 — 2013 World champion
Silver: Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.8 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.733 — 2012 Olympic bronze medalist; 2010 World silver medalist
4. MyKayla Skinner (USA) — 14.7
5. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) — 14.666 — 2013 World silver medalist; 2006 World bronze medalist
6. Larrissa Miller (AUS) — 14.233
7. Erika Fasana (ITA) — 13.9
8. Claudia Fragapane (GBR) — 13.1

Parallel Bars
Gold: Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) — 16.125
Silver: Danell Leyva (USA) — 15.933 — 2011 World champion
Bronze: Ryohei Kato (JPN) — 15.666
4. Deng Shudi (CHN) — 15.633
5. Yusuke Tanaka (JPN) — 15.041
6. Cheng Ran (CHN) — 14.866
7. Donnell Whittenburg (USA) — 14.366
8. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 13.666

Men’s Vault
Gold: Ri Se Gwang (PRK) — 15.416 — 2007 World bronze medalist
Silver: Igor Radivilov (UKR) — 15.333
Bronze: Jacob Dalton (USA) — 15.199
4. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) — 15.062
5. Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA) — 15.016
6. Shek Wai Hung (HKG) — 14.999
7. Yang Hak Seon (KOR) — 14.416 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2011, 2013 World champion
8. Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 14.116 — 2012 Olympic silver medalist

High Bar
Gold: Epke Zonderland (NED) — 16.225 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2013 World champion; 2009, 2010 World silver medalist
Silver: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) — 15.725 — 2011, 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Marijo Moznik (CRO) — 15
4. Nile Wilson (GBR) — 14.766
5. David Belyavskiy (RUS) — 14.733
6. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 14.533
7. Zhang Chenglong (CHN) — 14.366 — 2010 World champion; 2011 World silver medalist
8. Jossimar Calvo Moreno (COL) — 13.3

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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