Ryan Lochte makes history risking DQ at Worlds; more gold for Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin

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Ryan Lochte became the second swimmer to win four straight World Championships in one event, taking the 200m individual medley in Kazan, Russia, on Thursday, despite saying going in that he heard he might get disqualified.

Katie Ledecky anchored the U.S. women’s 4x200m freestyle relay to win her fourth gold medal of the meet, giving her eight gold medals in eight career Worlds events over 2013 and 2015. Missy Franklin led off that relay to pick up her 10th career Worlds gold, breaking her tie with retired Australian Libby Trickett for most by a woman.

In the men’s 200m IM, Lochte clocked 1:55.81, the fastest time in the world this year, to win by .84 over Brazil’s Thiago Pereira. China’s Wang Shun earned bronze.

“Just goes to show all that hard work and dedication I’ve put in the pool, I mean it pays off,” Lochte, who had a poor 2014 following tearing an MCL after a fan ran into him, he fell and hit a curb in fall 2013, told Michele Tafoya on Universal Sports. “This is just kind of a stepping stone to what I want to accomplish in Rio.”

Lochte said he risked disqualification with a new strategy he uses on the turn off the wall at 150 meters, switching from breaststroke to the final 50 meters of freestyle. Lochte swims on his back off that wall before turning to the freestyle, while everyone else stays more or less on their belly.

Rowdy Gaines and Dan Hicks said on Universal Sports that an Australian judge who stood over Lochte’s lane at the 150-meter turn might have tried to disqualify Lochte.

“I’ve never heard a rule saying that you can’t do that, but I think they’re going to start changing the rules now,” Lochte told Tafoya. “I took that chance tonight going into it. They said you might get disqualified.”

Lochte’s win came against a field that did not include Olympic champion Michael Phelps or the two other fastest 200m IM swimmers each of the last two years — Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (injured) and Daiya Seto (failed to advance out of semis).

“There was a couple of people that weren’t in that race, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there was other people there to push me,” Lochte said on Eurosport.

Worlds broadcast schedule | Thursday results

Lochte, 31, became the second swimmer to win the same Worlds event four straight times. Australia’s Grant Hackett did so in the 1500m freestyle from 1998 through 2005. Hackett, 35, is competing in the 4x200m free relay in Kazan, his first Worlds in eight years.

Lochte also became the second swimmer to earn a medal in the same Worlds event six straight times. Italy’s Federica Pellegrini accomplished the feat in the women’s 200m freestyle Wednesday.

Lochte’s individual events are finished at Worlds, his lightest individual workload at a major international meet in 11 years. In his other event, he finished fourth in the 200m freestyle. Lochte is likely to be part of the U.S. 4x200m free relay on Friday.

He said that Michael Phelps emailed him earlier this week after the U.S. started the meet poorly. The U.S. is now up to 11 medals and five golds, both leading the medal standings after five of eight days. Its fewest medals won at a Worlds or Olympics in the last 50 years was 21 at the 1994 Worlds.

Phelps is not swimming at Worlds as part of his punishment for a September DUI arrest.

“He emailed me saying good luck, you’re like one of the older men on the team, so you’ve got to push through from Team USA and get them going because you’re a leader now,” Lochte said on Eurosport. “I’m not there to help you. I’m like, yeah, we miss him. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s definitely missed. But like I said, the biggest picture is Rio, and I know he’ll be there, and he’ll be fired up for that.”

Michael Phelps: U.S. swimming is no longer on top

In other finals Thursday, Franklin and Ledecky led the U.S. women’s 4x200m free relay to a 3.04-second win over Italy and China. They switched spots in the relay order from 2013, when Ledecky led off and Franklin anchored.

Sarah Sjostrom led off the relay with the fastest split of the field in 1:54.31, a time that would have beaten Ledecky for gold in the individual 200m freestyle on Wednesday. Ledecky won that race in 1:55.16. Sjostrom opted not to swim the individual 200m free in Kazan.

The U.S. closed the gap on Sweden to within .34 for Ledecky’s anchor leg. Ledecky easily moved into gold-medal position and clocked 1:55.64 on her split.

Ledecky will swim the 800m freestyle Saturday, looking to become the first swimmer to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at one Worlds. She can also become the second swimmer to win four individual events at a Worlds, joining Lochte and Phelps.

Franklin will swim the 100m freestyle final Friday and the 200m backstroke final Saturday. She’s still looking for her first individual gold medal of the meet after winning three individual events in 2013.

In the men’s 100m freestyle Thursday, U.S. Olympic champion Nathan Adrian tied for seventh. Ning Zetao, who was handed a one-year doping ban in 2011, became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic or World title in an event shorter than 400 meters. Australia’s Cameron McEvoy took silver followed by Argentina’s Federico Grabich for bronze.

“He underperformed a little bit,” Russian two-time Olympic 100m freestyle champion Alexander Popov said of McEvoy on Eurosport.

Cammile Adams took silver in the 200m butterfly for her first Worlds medal, coming from seventh place after 100 meters and fifth after 150. Adams finished fifth at the 2012 Olympics and seventh at the 2013 World Championships.

The U.S. has won a medal in every women’s swimming event at one of the last two Olympics, except the 200m butterfly. The last U.S. woman to win an Olympic 200m butterfly medal was Misty Hyman‘s surprise gold at Sydney 2000.

Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi took the gold in 2:05.56, followed by Adams in 2:06.40 and China’s Zhang Yufei in 2:06.51. Hoshi won the first World Championships gold by a Japanese woman, after 24 combined silver and bronze medals.

China’s Fu Yuanhui took the women’s 50m backstroke title. No Americans were in the final, and the event is not part of the Olympic program. Fu was fourth in the 100m back Tuesday.

In semifinals Thursday, Franklin advanced to Friday’s 100m freestyle final by .01 as the eighth and final qualifier. Franklin was fourth in the event at the 2013 Worlds and fifth at the 2012 Olympics. Countrywoman Simone Manuel qualified sixth into the final.

The favorites are fastest qualifier Swede Sarah Sjostrom and Australian sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell.

Ryan Murphy and Olympic champion Tyler Clary qualified second and seventh into Friday’s 200m backstroke final. An American has won this event at each of the last 20 major international meets.

American Micah Lawrence was the No. 2 qualifier into Friday’s 200m breaststroke final behind Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen. Lawrence won bronze two years ago, with Pedersen earning bronze. The 2013 World champion Yulia Efimova of Russia failed to advance out of the morning heats.

American Kevin Cordes was the fourth qualifier into Friday’s men’s 200m breast final. Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta will try to match Lochte and Hackett with a fourth straight World title Friday.

Phelps: I won’t drink alcohol until after Rio, if ever

Men’s 200m Individual Medley
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) — 1:55.81
Silver: Thiago Pereira (BRA) — 1:56.65
Bronze: Wang Shun (CHN) — 1:56.81

4. Daniel John Wallace (GBR) — 1:57.59
5. Conor Dwyer (USA) — 1:57.96
6. Marcin Cieslak (POL) — 1:58.14
7. Henrique Rodriguez (BRA) — 1:58.52
8. Simon Sjodin (SWE) — 1:59.06

Men’s 100m Freestyle
Gold: Ning Zetao (CHN) — 47.84
Silver: Cameron McEvoy (AUS) — 47.95
Bronze: Federico Grabich (ARG) — 48.12
4. Santo Condorelli (CAN) — 48.19
5. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) — 48.27
6. Alexander Sukhorukov (RUS) — 48.28
7. Nathan Adrian (USA) — 48.31
7. Pieter Timmers (BEL) — 48.31

Women’s 200m Butterfly
Gold: Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) — 2:05.56
Silver: Cammile Adams (USA) — 2:06.40
Bronze: Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 2:06.51
4. Brianna Throssell (AUS) — 2:06.78
4. Franziska Hentke (GER) — 2:06.78
6. Katie McLaughlin (USA) — 2:06.95
7. Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) — 2:07.76
8. Zhou Yilin (CHN) — 2:10.20

Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay
Gold: U.S. — 7:45.37
Silver: Italy — 7:48.41
Bronze: China — 7:49.10
4. Sweden — 7:50.24
5. Great Britain — 7:50.60
6. Australia — 7:51.02
7. Japan — 7:54.62
8. France — 7:55.98

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Sweden weighs 2030 Winter Olympic bid after IOC meeting

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Sweden’s Olympic leaders are weighing up whether to bid for the Winter Games in 2030.

The Nordic country’s potential entry into the race to stage the 2030 Games comes at a time when the International Olympic Committee has delayed the process and is searching around for more contenders to host the event.

Sapporo, Japan, was considered the favorite before an ongoing bid-rigging scandal related to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo held in 2021. Salt Lake City is the only other known bidder that might consider taking 2030, though officials have said they favor a bid for 2034.

A joint Stockholm-Are bid from Sweden lost out to another shared bid, from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, to stage the Winter Games in 2026 amid a lack of clear public support in Sweden and some government upheaval at local and national level in the run-up to the vote.

There was reportedly discontent in Stockholm over how the Swedish bid was treated in the contest for the 2026 Games.

The Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committees and the Swedish Sports Confederation will start a feasibility study for 2030, they said Wednesday. A report from the study will be presented on April 20.

“These are new times now and the feasibility study will show how the Olympics and Paralympics can be shaped based on Sweden’s conditions,” said Anders Larsson, acting chairman of the Swedish Olympic Committee. “We already have virtually all the arenas required to arrange the largest Winter Games.”

The committee’s secretary general, Åsa Edlund Jönsson, said the 2030 Games “could be a campfire to rally Sweden around.”

“The idea is to review the concept that existed for the candidacy in 2026, which would mean competitions in several places in Sweden,” Jönsson said, specifically referencing Stockholm and the regions of Dalarna and Jämtland. “Here we feel confident that there is great experience in arranging world-class winter championships in the Swedish sports movement.”

The Stockholm-Are bid for 2026 even included plans to stage ice-sliding sports across the Baltic Sea at a venue in Latvia to avoid building a white elephant venue in Sweden — a key demand of IOC reforms to cut Olympic hosting costs.

The idea of Sweden potentially joining the 2030 race came up at a meeting in Lausanne in January.

“We have had a meeting with the IOC that was about, without obligation from any quarter, looking at the Games in 2030,” Larsson said. “During that meeting, it was clear that the IOC liked our concept for 2026. What the feasibility study will provide answers to is whether we are ready to move forward in the process.”

Sweden hosted the Summer Olympics in 1912 but never a Winter Games, despite the country being an established giant in winter sports.

It has made eight failed bids to stage the Winter Games.

Gunilla Lindberg, who is on the Swedish Olympic Committee, is also an IOC member and on its panel tasked with finding potential future hosts for the Winter Games.

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