Damian Lillard
AP

Damian Lillard added as U.S. Olympic basketball team finalist

Leave a comment

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was added to the list of 30 finalists to make the 12-man U.S. roster for the Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Lillard, 25 and a two-time All-Star, did not attend an August camp deemed mandatory for Olympic consideration, but called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and expressed desire for the Rio Games.

“Both [coach] Mike [Krzyzewski] and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said in a press release. “Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”

Last summer, Lillard said he probably wouldn’t go to the August camp after he was one of the final four cuts from the 2014 FIBA World Cup roster.

“I don’t know why I would go if I got cut last summer,” Lillard said in a radio interview last summer.

Lillard explained Wednesday why he changed his mind.

“I knew that down the line I still wanted to be a part of [USA Basketball], and I think it was just the fact that we got to speak about it face-to-face,” Lillard told media before a game against the Rockets. “I wasn’t getting the opportunity, and I felt that way, I was a little bit down on it. But going into it [now], I won’t have that on my mind and on my heart. I’ll go into it with good intentions.”

USA Basketball has not said when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the London Games.

The 2012 Olympic roster included three point guards — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. Paul and Westbrook are finalists for the 2016 team, but Williams is not.

Other potential first-time Olympic point guards competing with Lillard include NBA MVP Stephen Curry, All-Star John Wall and past All-Star Kyrie Irving.

MORE: Tony Parker updates Olympic qualifying, Rio status

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!