Stanley Biwott, Mary Keitany
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Kenyans sweep New York City Marathon for third straight year

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NEW YORK — Kenyans Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany won the New York City Marathon on Sunday, marking the third straight year the distance-running power swept the 26.2-mile race.

Biwott, 29, notched the biggest victory of his career in his second New York appearance. He clocked 2 hours, 10 minutes, 34 seconds, and outlasted countryman Geoffrey Kamworor by 14 seconds, pulling away in the final two miles in Central Park.

Pre-race favorite and defending champion Wilson Kipsang of Kenya was fourth out of an unofficial 50,229 total starters.

Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 winner, placed seventh in 2:13:32 for his eighth top-10 in 10 New York appearances. Keflezighi, at 40 seeking next year to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, broke the U.S. masters marathon record of 2:13:52.

Biwott, who worked on a dairy farm until 2006 and still owns 10 cows, finished fifth in his previous New York start in 2013. He won the 2012 Paris Marathon.

Keitany, 33, became the first woman to win back-to-back New York marathons since world-record holder Paula Radcliffe in 2007 and 2008.

She clocked 2:24:25, prevailing by 67 seconds over Ethiopian Asefelech Mergia. The top U.S. woman was Laura Thweatt, seventh in 2:28:23, the seventh-fastest time in New York history by an American woman.

In 2014, Keitany prevailed in New York by three seconds, tying the closest women’s finish ever, in her first marathon since giving birth to her second child. She placed fourth at the London Olympics and missed all of 2013 due to childbirth.

The fastest American woman coming into the race, 18-year-old Alana Hadley, dropped out a little past the halfway point. Hadley is too young to be eligible for the 2016 Olympic marathon.

The U.S. Olympic marathon trials are Feb. 13, live on NBC. The top three men’s and women’s finishers earn Rio spots.

“If I’m going to make the Olympic team, I better run a lot faster,” said Keflezighi, who has 104 days to recover before the trials in Los Angeles.

Keflezighi, a four-time Olympian and 2004 marathon silver medalist, won the 2012 Olympic trials in 2:09:08. The third-place finisher at the 2012 trials clocked 2:09:47 and fourth place was 2:09:55.

Even though Keflezighi’s 2:13:32 from Sunday is much slower than that, New York is known as a slower course. Keflezighi ran 2:13:18 in New York last year, in tougher weather conditions. He clocked a personal-best 2:08:37 to win Boston last year, which ranks him No. 2 among Americans across all marathons since he finished fourth at the London Olympics.

Thweatt, whose marathon debut time made her the seventh-fastest U.S. woman since the start of 2013, said she does not plan to race the marathon trials but focus on the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in July.

Tatyana McFadden, an 11-time Paralympic medalist, shattered the women’s wheelchair course record by 7 minutes, 20 seconds. McFadden clocked 1:43:04 for 26.2 miles, completing a sweep of Boston, Chicago, London and New York City marathons for a third straight year.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Kenya marathon runner-up arrested for cheating in race

Maria Sharapova appears set to miss Tokyo Olympics

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Maria Sharapova, who would have a difficult time qualifying for the Olympics next year, committed to play an event in California the week of the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova is scheduled to play World Team Tennis matches in California during the Olympic tennis events in late July, according to a press release. Sharapova’s longtime agent hasn’t responded to a message seeking confirmation that she is ruling out the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova, 32 and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was barred from the Rio Games due to her 15-month meldonium suspension in 2016 and 2017. That alone could rule her ineligible for Tokyo, given the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Russia on Monday.

Sharapova is ranked No. 131 after a season shortened by shoulder surgery. She would have to be among the top four ranked Russian women after the French Open in June for possible automatic Olympic qualification. She is currently the 14th Russian.

Olympic eligibility rules include minimum participation requirements in Fed Cup, which Sharapova hasn’t done in this Olympic cycle, though exceptions can be made.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said in 2017. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility. One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

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Russia banned from Olympics, world champs for 4 years; athletes could compete as neutrals

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Russia is banned from the next two Olympics and other major sports events for four years, though its athletes could still compete without representing the country if cleared by anti-doping authorities.

Russia’s hosting of world championships in Olympic sports also face being stripped after the World Anti-Doping Agency executive committee approved a full slate of recommended sanctions for tampering with a Moscow laboratory database.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in major events — including world championships — only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or their data was not manipulated, according to the WADA ruling. “In this circumstance, they may not represent the Russian Federation,” according to a WADA release.

“While I understand the calls for a blanket ban on all Russian athletes whether or not they are implicated by the data, it was the unanimous view of the CRC [compliance review committee], which includes an athlete, that in this case, those who could prove their innocence should not be punished, and I am pleased that the WADA ExCo [executive committee] agreed with this,” WADA CRC chairman Jonathan Taylor said.

There are 145 unnamed athletes within WADA’s “target group of most suspicious athletes” from 2012-15 who would not be allowed to compete at the Olympics, Taylor said, adding that it’s possible those names will be made public. About one-third of them are still active.

Russia’s anti-doping agency can appeal the decision within 21 days. Russia previously signaled it would appeal the ruling.

“The decision will come into effect only when it becomes final ie when either RUSADA accepts it or it is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” a WADA spokesperson said in an email.

Russia avoided blanket bans for the Rio and PyeongChang Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed by media and WADA investigations after Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Approved Russian athletes competed as neutrals — “Olympic Athletes from Russia” — including in team sports in PyeongChang. Those Russians combined to earn two gold medals (figure skater Alina Zagitova and men’s hockey) and 17 overall, compared to the leading 33 Russia earned at the Sochi Olympics before medals were stripped for doping.

“Will Russian athletes be accepted as Olympic Athletes from Russia?” during the ban, Taylor said. “No, they are neutral athletes, which means not representatives of any country. Not representatives of Russia.”

Going forward, “they cannot use the name of the country in the name of the team,” WADA president-elect Witold Bańka told The Associated Press.

Two of the 168 Russians who competed in PyeongChang failed drug tests and were punished for doping.

More recent evidence shows that Russian authorities tampered with a Moscow laboratory database to hide hundreds of potential doping cases and falsely shift the blame onto whistleblowers, WADA investigators and the International Olympic Committee said last month. “Flagrant manipulation” of the Moscow lab data was “an insult to the sporting movement worldwide,” the IOC said last month.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order … but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.

Russia will be allowed to participate in the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, that open Jan. 9.

WADA’s inability to fully expel Russia from the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games frustrated the doping watchdog’s vice president.

“I’m not happy with the decision we made today. But this is as far as we could go,” said Linda Helleland, a Norwegian lawmaker who serves on WADA executive committee and has long pushed for a tougher line against Russia. “This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen. I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize on all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced.”

Although the IOC has called for the strongest possible sanctions, it wants those sanctions directed at Russian state authorities rather than athletes or Olympic officials.

“To allow Russia to escape a complete ban is yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “And, in turn, the reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform.”

Russia’s Olympic champion women’s handball team is currently competing at the world championships in Japan. Its next match is Tuesday against Montenegro. Russia has been the scheduled host for the world luge championships in Sochi in mid-February.

The “major sports” events that fall under WADA’s sanctions do not include European Championships or other non-world championships events such as tennis’ upcoming Australian Open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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TIMELINE: Russia’s recent history of sports doping