Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay
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Russian Olympic boss takes swipe at Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The president of the Russian Olympic Committee took a swipe at American sprinters Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay in a speech to Olympic leaders on Tuesday, questioning the fairness of letting them compete in Rio de Janeiro while some Russians cannot.

Alexander Zhukov made his case for Russian athletes to the sports leaders, who later upheld the decision to keep the country’s track and field federation suspended.

“Do you really think it is fair to make it impossible for Yelena Isinbayeva and Sergey Shubenkov to participate in the Olympic Games which will be attended by Tyson Gay and twice disqualified for doping Justin Gatlin?” Zhukov asked. “From the perspective of Russian athletes, it is an extreme injustice and humiliation.”

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medalist, has twice been suspended for doping. He tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, his second offense, but was reinstated on July 24, 2010. He returned to capture the bronze medal at the London Games two years later and finished second to Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m at last year’s world championships in Beijing.

Gay has also tested positive for doping.

“We consider it unfair on the vast majority of our athletes who have never doped and have not violated any criteria,” Zhukov told the meeting. “They will be punished for the sins of others.”

Isinbayeva, the world-record holder in the pole vault and a two-time Olympic champion, has threatened to go to court on human rights grounds if she is barred from competing in Rio. Shubenkov won the 110m hurdles at last year’s worlds.

Russia’s track and field federation was suspended last November following a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailing systematic, state-sponsored doping. The sport’s world governing body upheld the decision on Friday, effectively keeping Russian track and field athletes from competing in Rio while also opening the door for some to compete as neutral athletes if they can prove they are clean.

The IOC backed the decision last week, and the Olympic summit did the same on Tuesday. But IOC President Thomas Bach did say that if any Russian track athletes do compete in Rio, they will do so under the Russian flag.

VIDEO: Gatlin wins race on track over water

Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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