James Magnussen

James Magnussen out of World Swimming Championships

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Australian James Magnussen will miss the World Swimming Championships in August due to impending left shoulder surgery, according to Australia’s swimming federation.

“We, as a team, have explored every possible avenue to allow me to compete, but unfortunately surgery is the only viable option if I am to be fit for the 2016 Rio Olympics,” Magnussen said in a press release. “I will now focus all my time and effort on preparing for the Olympics next year. I am looking forward to regaining full strength in my shoulder and getting back to my best performances.”

Magnussen, 24, was Australia’s biggest swimming star going into the London 2012 Olympics. He won the 2011 World Championships 100m but in London was beaten for gold by American Nathan Adrian by .01 of a second. That’s the closest an Australian man has come to winning an Olympic swimming gold medal since 2004.

Magnussen repeated as World champion in 2013, relegating Adrian to bronze.

At the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, Magnussen dropped to bronze behind Adrian and the gold medalist, Cameron McEvoy of Australia.

McEvoy, 21, then beat Magnussen again in the 100m free at the Australian Championships in April, firmly taking over as the top Australian men’s swimmer. McEvoy became the first Australian man to qualify for the World Championships in the 50m, 100m and 200m frees since 1998 (Michael Klim).

McEvoy is ranked No. 2 in the world this year in the 100m free, behind Russian Vladimir Morozov. Magnussen is No. 3, with Adrian tied for No. 27. The rankings are deceiving, because many nations had World Championships trials this year, requiring swimmers to taper and peak, while the U.S. team was determined last summer.

Magnussen’s absence will of course also hurt the Australians in the 4x100m free relay, an event they won over the U.S. at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships after finishing fourth at 2013 Worlds.

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Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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