Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross historically dominant at World Championships

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Kerri Walsh Jennings has played three full Olympic beach volleyball tournaments and is in her sixth World Championships, and never before has she been part of such a rout at a major competition.

The three-time Olympic champion and partner April Ross thumped Paraguay’s Gabriela Filippo and Michelle Valiente 21-6, 21-10 in the round of 32 at the Worlds in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

“We had never seen that team before,” Ross said in an FIVB interview. “We didn’t know, really, what to expect.”

Walsh Jennings, who played with Misty May-Treanor from 2001 through 2012, set personal records for Olympic or Worlds play for largest margin of victory in a set (15) and fewest points allowed in a match (16) and matched her mark for shortest match (29 minutes), according to BVBinfo.com.

Walsh Jennings and Ross are undefeated in four matches at Worlds and advanced to the round of 16 against China’s Wang Fan and Yue Yuan on Thursday. The Chinese pair swept Americans Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in a later round of 32 match Wednesday.

If Kessy and Day had beaten Wang and Yue, it would have set up Kessy’s first international match against Walsh Jennings and Ross. Walsh Jennings first planted the seed to start playing with Ross immediately after the 2012 Olympic final, where Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor beat Kessy and Ross in May-Treanor’s last match before retiring.

Walsh Jennings and Ross’ toughest potential match at Worlds would be in the semifinals. They are in the same half of the bracket as Brazil’s best team — Larissa and Talita. That match would be Friday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross are playing together for the first time since Walsh Jennings, a 36-year-old mother of three, on May 27 dislocated a shoulder on which she previously had four surgeries. Walsh Jennings, who played Wednesday with her right shoulder heavily taped, won three straight World titles with May-Treanor in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

“We want this sucker so bad,” Walsh Jennings said.

Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat are the other U.S. pair that reached the round of 16.

U.S. men’s pairs Ryan Doherty and John MayerJohn Hyden and Tri BourneNick Lucena and Theo Brunner and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson were to play round of 32 matches later Wednesday.

World Beach Volleyball Championships preview

Emily Sweeney posts fastest time in qualifier for luge World Cup opener

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World championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney placed first in the Nations Cup luge race Friday in Innsbruck, Austria, qualifying with ease for the first World Cup event of the season.

Twelve women, including fellow American Summer Britcher, were seeded directly into the World Cup race. Sweeney, Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson all qualified from the Nations Cup race. Britcher has finished third in the overall World Cup standings for two straight years and is a contender in a wide-open year with seven-time defending champion Natalie Geisenberger taking a year off while pregnant.

MORE: Geisenberg will not race in 2019-20

In the men’s competition, Jonny Gustafson and Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer finished third and fifth in the Nations Cup race to advance. Tucker West claimed the second-to-last qualifying spot to get all three U.S. sliders in Sunday’s World Cup race.

Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman qualified for the doubles competition, ensuring all eight U.S. sliders will see the weekend races.

OlympicChannel.com will have live streaming this weekend (all times ET):

  • Women: Saturday, 4:15 a.m. and 5:40 a.m.
  • Doubles: Saturday, 7:05 a.m. and 8:25 a.m.
  • Men: Sunday, 4 a.m. and 5:35 a.m.
  • Team relay: Sunday, 7:40 a.m.

Highlights will be on television at the following times:

  • Saturday: Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: NBCSN, 4:30 p.m.

Next weekend, the World Cup series heads to Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Russian track and field federation faces expulsion threat over new doping allegations

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MOSCOW (AP) — The governing body for track and field will consider expelling Russia from membership following new charges that senior officials faked medical records.

Russia has been suspended by World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, over widespread doping since 2015. There will be a review of whether vetted Russians should still be allowed to compete in international events as neutrals.

“We need to deal with renegade factions like this,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said Friday in Monaco.

World Athletics has frozen talks about lifting the long-running suspension and asked its Russia task force for recommendations on expelling the country’s track federation.

“It’s not symbolic,” said Coe, who said the charges and suspensions against Russian officials were so wide-ranging that they left the task force with almost no one left to talk to.

One route could be to close the Russian track federation and set up a new national governing body. Russia’s sports minister said he had referred the federation to a commission which oversees such matters.

Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and four other senior officials are accused of obstructing the investigation into 2017 world championship silver medalist Danil Lysenko, who was accused last year of failing to make himself available for drug testing.

Lysenko allegedly provided fake medical documents as an alibi with help from the officials. He and his coach have also been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit pending full disciplinary hearings.

Also Friday, the three-time world high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene assailed Russian track leaders after they were charged Thursday, saying they have made a “doping nightmare” even worse.

Lasitskene called for swift and radical reforms, and the removal of officials appointed by Shlyakhtin.

Shlyakhtin took office shortly after the federation was suspended from international competition for widespread doping. The suspension remains in place four years later.

“The new team, whose task was to take us out of this doping nightmare, has turned out no better than the old one. And in some ways worse,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram. “Shlyakhtin and his team must quit their posts immediately and never come back. And I will make sure this happens.”

Lasitskene has won two of her three world titles as a neutral athlete as a result of Russia’s suspension, which also caused her to miss the 2016 Olympics.

“Our track and field is in its death throes and we can’t procrastinate anymore,” she wrote. “We’ve lost four years already. Clean athletes are still defenseless and not sure they’ll be able to compete tomorrow.”

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov expressed concern about the “emergency situation” and referred the federation to a ministry commission which could officially withdraw its government recognition.

“The future fate of the track and field federation will be examined,” Kolobkov said Friday in a video statement. “For us now, the main thing is that the training process isn’t interrupted. That means all of the athletes will get the help they need to continue the training and competition process.”

Earlier, the Kremlin said the charges against Shlyakhtin and others won’t derail the country’s preparations to compete in next year’s Olympics.

“Undoubtedly, this (situation) requires attention from the sports authorities, and I’m sure they’re dealing with it,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “But I don’t see a direct connection with Russia’s participation in the Olympics here.”

With Shlyakhtin suspended, the federation is set to select an interim president at a board meeting on Saturday.

Russia is also facing a World Anti-Doping Agency ruling next month on whether it manipulated data from a lab in Moscow.

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