Pau Gasol
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Spain, France to meet in EuroBasket with Rio spot at stake

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Either Spain or France must wait until one month before the Olympics to learn if it will qualify for Rio in men’s basketball.

The European stalwarts, which combined to win three of the last four Olympic silver medals, meet in the EuroBasket semifinals Thursday with an Olympic berth at stake.

EuroBasket acts as an Olympic qualifying tournament with the finalists receiving Rio spots. Teams that finish third through seventh advance to one of the global, last-chance qualifying tournaments in July.

Spain was nearly knocked out in the EuroBasket group stage last Thursday, beating Germany 77-76 after Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder missed a game-tying free throw attempt with three seconds left.

In the round of 16, Spain was tied with Poland after three quarters before a 25-11 fourth-quarter run.

And in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, Spain trailed Greece in the fourth before emerging with a 73-71 victory.

This Spain team is not reminiscent of the roster that reached the last two Olympic finals. It lacks NBA players Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon and has leaned heavily on Pau Gasol.

Pau Gasol, 35, made six of seven three-pointers against Poland and scored a game-high 27 points against Greece.

France’s roster includes more NBA players than Spain’s — six, including Olympians Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum. France and Serbia, a nation in the other bracket half, are the remaining undefeated teams at EuroBasket.

Spain beat France in the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals.

France, then without Parker, beat Spain, then with both Gasol brothers, Ibaka, Rubio and Calderon, in the 2014 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.

France beat Latvia 84-70 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

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USOPC seeks to revoke USA Badminton’s status

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U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland filed a complaint to revoke USA Badminton’s status as the national governing body for the sport, a year after a USOPC audit found the organization lacked athlete safety requirements.

USA Badminton “failed to meet its responsibilities as an NGB and consistently failed to meet its obligations to its members and to U.S. athletes,” according to the USOPC. “Further, USAB has failed to conduct itself in a manner that demonstrates it can fulfill those responsibilities.”

Asked for reaction, USA Badminton interim CEO Linda French said, “I’m very disappointed in the USOPC and the conduct of their staff.”

USA Badminton recently had mass resignations among its board and top officials amid governance issues and the USOPC threatening decertification. A 2018 USOPC audit found four “high risk” areas in USA Badminton’s athlete safety and SafeSport compliance that, by March, had not been fully resolved.

“We have attempted to work with USAB’s leadership over the course of the last year to address our concerns, however those efforts have not yielded the results necessary to give me confidence in USAB’s ability to continue to serve its athletes as an NGB,” Hirshland wrote. “We remain committed to working with USAB’s leadership to address our concerns but have so far not found a willing partner.”

The next step is for Hirshland to appoint an independent panel to hear the complaint. There is no specific timeline for a resolution, though Hirshland said it will take a minimum of several weeks.

If USA Badminton’s status is revoked, the USOPC would assume control on an interim basis.

Last November, the USOPC filed the same complaint against USA Gymnastics, seeking to revoke its status after the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes came to light followed by several leadership changes.

USA Gymnastics since filed for bankruptcy and named former college gymnast and NBA executive Li Li Leung its new CEO in February. It remains the sport’s NGB with eight months until the Tokyo Olympics.

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Sun Yang should get lengthy ban if he loses doping hearing, WADA says

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency wants China’s star swimmer Sun Yang banned for up to eight years for alleged doping rules violations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday ahead of a rare appeal hearing in open court on Friday that WADA requests a ban of two to eight years. Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 for a positive test.

If WADA wins, the three-time Olympic freestyle champion will miss the Tokyo Games.

WADA has challenged world swimming body FINA’s ruling to merely warn Sun after a disputed attempt by sample collectors to take blood and urine from him at his home in China in September 2018. The late-night confrontation lasted from 11 p.m. to beyond 3:30 a.m.

The day-long hearing will examine why a secure box storing a glass vial of blood came to be destroyed by Sun’s entourage, who questioned the sample team’s authority. A FINA tribunal panel agreed the officials lacked proper credentials to make the sample collection valid.

WADA believes Sun broke anti-doping rules by refusing to submit to a sample collection.

All sides agreed to Sun’s request to hold a first CAS appeal in public for 20 years.

A verdict is unlikely until early next year.

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