Russian athletes begin appealing Olympic track and field ban

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MOSCOW (AP) — Two Russian athletes have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the IAAF’s ban on the Russian team competing in Olympic track and field.

The IAAF, track and field’s world governing body, on Friday upheld a suspension of the Russian team imposed in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping.

Race-walkers Denis Nizhegorodov and Svetlana Vasilyeva argue that a ban of the entire team is unfair punishment.

Nizhegorodov, an Olympic silver medalist in 2004, says “competing at the Olympics is the main goal and main honor. We will get that right,” in comments on agent Andrei Mitkov‘s website.

“Now they want to take away my chance to compete at the Olympics, even though I haven’t done anything to cost me a place in Rio,” Vasilyeva said. “From bitter experience I understand that you can’t wait and hope for a good result, you have to act.”

Both athletes say they reject an IAAF measure that would allow some Russian athletes to compete under a neutral status, rather than the Russian flag, if they can show they are clean and have been tested regularly by a reputable testing authority outside Russia.

“I’m a citizen of Russia, a great sports power. I don’t agree with competing under the Olympic flag,” he said.

The appeal does not have the blessing of the Russian track and field federation, which says it has yet to receive the full text of the IAAF’s decision.

“No one at the federation has any connection to this,” spokeswoman Alla Glushchenko told The Associated Press in a text message. “We’ve started work with lawyers. In any case, you have to receive the official IAAF ruling and we don’t have it yet.”

Russian race-walking is among the events most seriously affected by doping. Russia voluntarily withdrew its walking team from last year’s world championship over doping concerns.

Nizhegorodov comes from a training center that has seen over 30 doping cases, including several for Olympic champions, and where senior officials have been banned for organizing drug use. He was threatened with losing his Olympic bronze from 2008 after a retest came back positive, but was cleared when the “B” sample did not correspond with the original finding.

MORE: Five Russian track and field stars who may miss Olympics

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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