James Harden
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James Harden is 8th U.S. basketball withdrawal; who remains?

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Houston Rockets guard James Harden is the eighth of 31 USA Basketball finalists to withdraw from Olympic team consideration before the 12-man roster is expected to be named June 27.

Harden, one of four to withdraw this week and the fifth withdrawal of the eight overall who had been named to the 2012 Olympic team, did not cite a reason.

Previously, Russell WestbrookLaMarcus AldridgeStephen CurryChris PaulJohn WallAnthony Davis and Blake Griffin withdrew for various reasons.

Most of the eight withdrawals have been due to injury. Nobody has cited the Zika virus.

“As a result of many difficult conversations with my family, the Rockets, and trusted advisors, I’ve notified Jerry Colangelo and Team USA that I will not be competing at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil,” Harden said in a statement Friday night. “This decision was a painstaking one that I did not take lightly. As a member of the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal Team, and as Team Captain for the 2014 FIBA Gold Medal Team, it goes without saying that USA Basketball has provided me with some of the most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life. I have been extremely blessed to wear the ‘red, white, and blue’ and to compete at the highest international level with the greatest players representing the greatest country in the world. I sincerely hope I’ll earn an opportunity to represent Team USA again in the future.”

Harden, 26, was a reserve on the 2012 Olympic team behind Kobe Bryant, averaging 9.1 minutes per game in London. He started all nine games at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and led the U.S. in scoring (14.2 points per game).

The U.S. is now without any guards with Olympic experience, unless one counts Andre Iguodala as a guard.

The U.S. finalist pool is down to six players with Olympic experience. The 2012 Olympic team brought back five players with Olympic experience.

Here are the remaining finalists:

Carmelo Anthony — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics
LeBron James — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics
Kevin Durant — 2012 Olympics
Andre Iguodala — 2012 Olympics
Kevin Love — 2012 Olympics
Dwight Howard — 2008 Olympics
DeMarcus Cousins — 2014 World Cup
DeMar DeRozan — 2014 World Cup
Andre Drummond — 2014 World Cup
Kenneth Faried — 2014 World Cup
Rudy Gay — 2014 World Cup, 2010 World Cup
Kyrie Irving — 2014 World Cup
Klay Thompson — 2014 World Cup
Harrison Barnes
Bradley Beal
Jimmy Butler
Mike Conley
Paul George
Draymond Green
Gordon Hayward
DeAndre Jordan
Kawhi Leonard
Damian Lillard

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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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