Ryan Lochte: I have no doubt Michael Phelps will come back

Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps
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Ryan Lochte believes longtime friendly rival Michael Phelps will “be ready for Rio.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be back in the water,” Lochte said Tuesday.

Phelps was pulled over and arrested on DUI charges in Maryland on Sept. 30, announced he would attend a six-week program on Oct. 5 and suspended for six months by USA Swimming on Oct. 6. He will not swim at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

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Phelps, who came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April, has not said if or when he will return to swimming competition.

Lochte, a teammate of Phelps at the last three Olympics, correctly predicted two years ago that Phelps would eventually come out of his post-London 2012 retirement.

Lochte believes Phelps will race again with an eye on his fifth Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in two years, because of the same reasons he unretired earlier this year.

“Once you’re in that racing mode, it’s hard to get rid of,” said Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist who will swim at the World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, next month. “He missed that excitement.”

Lochte didn’t say whether he has been in contact with Phelps since the arrest.

Natalie Coughlin, also a three-time Olympic teammate of Phelps, said she reached out to Phelps.

“Just to tell him how much we care about him, and we want him to be well,” said Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist who will also race at short course Worlds. “I think he’s taking the proper steps in his life to get his life in order. Hopefully we’ll see him back in the fold. It’s a blessing for us to see him race.”

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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