Kerri Walsh Jennings
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Kerri Walsh Jennings out until March

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Kerri Walsh Jennings will have right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and a torn capsule Thursday and hopes to return to beach volleyball competition in mid-March, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion and a 37-year-old mother of three, dislocated the shoulder twice in competition this season — May 27 and July 10. She will have surgery on her right shoulder for the fifth time in her career.

“They always say six months, but I’ve always been back in four, maybe four and a week,” Walsh Jennings said, according to the report. “That’s plenty of time — even if I didn’t expedite my rehab — to come back stronger than ever.”

Walsh Jennings missed at least one month of competition following each of her two shoulder dislocations this season.

She and Olympic silver medalist partner April Ross returned from the first one at the World Championships and were eliminated in the round of 16.

They were better after the second layoff, reaching the final of the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach Calif., last month, with Walsh Jennings serving underhand and swinging primarily with her left arm. They lost the final to Brazilians Larissa and Talita, who are looking like the Rio Olympic favorites.

Walsh Jennings said that last week’s Rio Open would be her final tournament of the season. She and Ross lost in the round of 16.

Walsh Jennings and Ross must play at least five tournaments before June 12 to be eligible to qualify for the Rio Olympics. The 2016 FIVB World Tour schedule has not been released, but the 2015 schedule had six tournaments from March to June 12.

More Beach Volleyball: Kerri Walsh Jennings on brain games, her Super Bowl commercial, more

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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