Yelena Isinbayeva condoning corrupt system in Russia, IAAF official says

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Russia’s most famous track and field star calls competing in the Olympics a matter of human rights.

A person who cast a vote that could bar two-time gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva from this year’s games says the champion is missing the point.

On the day the pole vaulter threatened legal action to preserve her spot in Rio de Janeiro, Stephanie Hightower, America’s representative on track’s governing body, said Isinbayeva’s protests are proof she doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the problem in her own country.

“I’m very disappointed in her response,” Hightower told The Associated Press. “In my mind, she is condoning the corrupt system over there.”

Shortly after learning of the IAAF’s decision to ban the Russian track team from the Olympics, the 34-year-old world-record holder released a statement calling the decision “a violation of human rights.”

“I’m disappointed and angry,” Isinbayeva said. “I am offended, first on my personal behalf and on behalf of the team of clean athletes who are no longer in action. Nobody defended us. Nobody fought for our rights and there are huge concerns over IAAF itself and its stance on defending the rights of clean athletes.”

Hightower took umbrage to that, and pointed at the IAAF’s decision Friday as proof it is trying to protect clean athletes.

She said the most difficult part of the IAAF council’s decision was in determining how to decide who is clean and who isn’t. The IAAF’s conclusion: Russians who can prove they’ve been monitored by anti-doping agencies outside of their home country could be eligible to compete in Rio de Janeiro as independent athletes.

Isinbayeva does not appear to fall into that category.

The news came about 24 hours after Isinbayeva’s biggest rival, defending Olympic champion Jenn Suhr of the United States, said it would be a shame if the Russian couldn’t compete.

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

Hightower said that based on the latest from Isinbayeva, Suhr’s comments are “misguided.”

“Yes, she has a fan base. Yes, she’s been successful,” Hightower said of Isinbayeva. “But when you question our system that way, it paints a shadow over who she is and what she’s about when it comes to being a clean athlete.”

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said the decision to ban an entire country’s delegation can’t be taken lightly, but in this case, he felt it was appropriate.

“It’s tough,” he said. “But at the end of the day, if there are truly clean athletes … you hope they use this opportunity to stand up against the people in their country who’ve caused them this harm and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

MORE: Yelena Isinbayeva plans to sue after Russia’s track and field ban upheld

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek set French Open rematch

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she plays Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays the top seed Swiatek, who later Monday advanced after 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko retired down 5-1 after taking a medical timeout due to illness.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty ratchets up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world. Gauff said last week that there’s no point in revisiting last year’s final — a 6-1, 6-3 affair — but said Monday that she should rewatch that match because they haven’t met on clay since.

“I don’t want to make the final my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “Since last year I have been wanting to play her, especially at this tournament. I figured that it was going to happen, because I figured I was going to do well, and she was going to do well.

“The way my career has gone so far, if I see a level, and if I’m not quite there at that level, I know I have to improve, and I feel like you don’t really know what you have to improve on until you see that level.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

In the men’s draw, 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals by beating 35th-ranked Chilean Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5. He’ll next play sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7) winner over 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

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