Michael Phelps could be offered World Championships spot by FINA

Leave a comment

Michael Phelps may be extended an invitation to the World Swimming Championships by FINA, the sport’s international governing body.

Phelps was taken off the roster for the U.S. team in October as part of his punishment for a DUI arrest. Phelps said Wednesday that he accepted that decision, despite a March report that he may be reinstated by USA Swimming.

“We may give him another status because he’s the greatest athlete [in] history,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said, according to The Associated Press, adding that it would be “no problem for us.” “We can do whatever. He is the No. 1. He doesn’t need the accreditations.”

Phelps was told of Marculescu’s comments at the Pro Swim Series at Mesa, Ariz., later Thursday.

“Old Cornel,” Phelps joked to reporters after his first race since August (recap, video here). “I don’t even know. Cornel and I have known each other for a long time. It’s news to me. … I’m here to swim here right now. That’s what I’m focused on. I really don’t know what to expect. Bob and I’s plan has always been to prepare ourselves for [Summer] Nationals [in San Antonio the same time as the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August] because I wasn’t able to swim at the World Championships.”

On Wednesday, Phelps was most adamant that he did not want to take the spot of another U.S. swimmer on the World Championships team.

“By no way would I ever want to displace a member of that team,” Phelps said. “It is painful to think that I won’t have the chance to compete at Worlds based off the decision that was made last fall by USA Swimming.”

More on Phelps’ 40-minute press conference here.

If USA Swimming reinstated Phelps for the 100m butterfly, it would knock Tim Phillips off the U.S. team. In Phelps’ other events, swimmers who were already on the U.S. team in different races stepped up to take his individual spots (Tyler Clary in the 200m individual medley and Ryan Lochte in the 100m freestyle).

Rules dictate that a nation may enter no more than two swimmers per race. But if FINA awards an extra place for Phelps at Worlds, it wouldn’t have to affect the U.S. team.

If Phelps is given a third U.S. spot in Worlds races, then it creates the possibility for a U.S. podium sweep in events. However, this is unlikely, given South African Chad le Clos is the reigning 100m fly World champion, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino beat Phelps and Lochte in the 200m IM at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and Australians Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen took the 100m free at last two major international meets.

If Phelps was readded, he could also compete in U.S. relays, including mixed-gender relays, which are on the World Championships program for the first time.

“We don’t discuss with USA Swimming yet because they passed so many waves in the case of Phelps,” Marculescu said, according to the AP.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

AP
Leave a comment

Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: USOC names first permanent female CEO

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

AP
Leave a comment

Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch