Jenn Suhr, Yelena Isinbayeva
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Jenn Suhr wants Yelena Isinbayeva to compete in Rio

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BOSTON (AP) — The IAAF could all-but guarantee American Jenn Suhr a gold medal if it bans the entire Russian track team from the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Suhr is hoping that doesn’t happen.

The defending Olympic champion said Thursday that she wants to compete against the top competition this Summer in Rio — and that means Yelena Isinbayeva, the winner in 2004 and ’08 and the world record-holder.

“If you don’t have your best people in the event, then it’s not really the true event,” Suhr said Thursday.

Her husband and coach, Rick Suhr, went even further.

“If you’re going to have an Olympic final, you’re going to want Jenn in there and you’re going to want Yelena Isinbayeva in there. It’s the Ali-Frazier” of pole vaulting, he said.

“Without them, is it really even the Olympic final?” Rick Suhr said. “They’re the greatest pole vaulters who have ever touched a pole. The spectators and the world deserve to see the best people jump.”

Track’s international governing body is expected to decide on Friday whether to ban the entire Russian track and field team from the Rio Games as punishment for a widespread, state-backed doping scheme. Russia has insisted that it has abided by all international requests to clean up its program and that its athletes should be allowed to compete in Rio.

On Thursday, Isinbayeva wrote in The New York Times that she understood the need “to take strong action to eradicate doping.”

“But I do not think it is fair to forbid me and other clean Russian athletes to compete — athletes who have repeatedly proved they are innocent of cheating,” she said. “The IAAF should not punish all of us for the wrongdoing of some.”

Suhr agrees.

“If people are clean, they should be allowed to compete,” she said before the Boost Boston Games, which will include a “street meet,” with the 100 meter event and the pole vault and long jump on an Olympic specification track temporarily laid out along the Boston Common.

Suhr, who won the gold medal in London and is the current World Indoor champion and world record-holder, stressed that she would like to see the sport cleaned up but doesn’t see the point in punishing those who haven’t been found guilty of doping.

Rick Suhr said governing bodies could kill the sport they are trying to clean up.

“Track is dying,” he said. “The only way you are ever going to get fans out watching track and field again is to put the absolute best out there.”

MORE: Suhr wins World Indoor title

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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