Becky Sauerbrunn
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Becky Sauerbrunn agrees strike ‘off the table’ after judge ruling

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NEW YORK — U.S. women’s national team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said she and teammates will not try to fight a federal judge’s ruling last week that said they do not currently have a right to strike for the Olympics.

“I don’t think it is possible to fight it,” Sauerbrunn said Thursday while at an event for one of her sponsors, Budweiser, with other Rio Olympic hopefuls. “We kind of knew it could go either way, and it just didn’t go our way. We’re putting everything into the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] complaint, and we’re hoping that it’ll put enough pressure on U.S. Soccer to get us equal pay.”

In April, Sauerbrunn said that an Olympic boycott “would still be on the table” in July if nothing had changed regarding a wage-discrimination complaint filed against U.S. Soccer in March.

The 18-woman Olympic team is expected to be named by early next month. Sauerbrunn expects full participation.

“It’s definitely a personal decision if you want to come or not, but from what I’ve heard from everyone on my team is that if they’re on the 18 [player] roster, they’re going [to Rio],” Sauerbrunn said Thursday.

The team will gather for camp starting July 1. Two midfield stars — Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd — are still on the comeback from knee injuries.

“It’ll be close for Pinoe,” Sauerbrunn said of her readiness for July 1. “I think Carli feels pretty good she’ll be back in the next few weeks.”

Sauerbrunn, a 31-year-old eyeing her second Olympics, said she hopes to follow Lloyd’s path and hang up her national-team jersey after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“But I don’t want to be just holding on for dear life,” she said. “I still want to be feeling like I’m making an impact on the team and that my body’s holding up, that the coaches still rely on me and that the team still relies on me. I might need somebody on the outside to be like, all right, it’s time to hang it up, but for right now, I’m looking towards another cycle.”

MORE: Lloyd ranks Olympic final-winning goals, World Cup hat trick

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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