Ryan Lochte
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Ryan Lochte qualifies for Olympic Trials 400m IM final

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OMAHA — Ryan Lochte can clinch a spot on his fourth Olympic team on Sunday night.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, qualified second fastest into the Olympic Trials 400m individual medley final from the top morning heats on the first day of competition.

“My first race is always the worst one,” Lochte said. “I didn’t really press anything to full potential. I think there’s a little juice left. There has to be.”

The top two finishers in the eight-man final on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports app) will make the U.S. Olympic team.

Lochte is a favorite along with Chase Kalisz, who earned silver and bronze 400m IM medals at the last two world championships. Kalisz beat Lochte by .12 in their preliminary heat.

Other meet headliners Michael PhelpsMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky are not in any of Sunday’s events and will make their Trials debuts in the next two days.

Full Olympic Trials results are here.

TRIALS: Broadcast ScheduleEntry Lists
PREVIEWS: Men | Women
FIVE KEY RACES: Men | Women

Lochte, 31, won the 400m IM at the London Olympics, his only individual gold medal from those Games. He had not raced the grueling event at a major international or national meet since.

Also in Sunday’s prelim session, 2012 Olympians Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer qualified second- and fourth-fastest into Sunday night’s men’s 400m freestyle final. They were bettered in prelims by Zane Grothe, who is trying to make his first Olympic team.

In the women’s 400m individual medley, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and world silver medalist Maya DiRado qualified second and fourth into Sunday night’s final. Sarah Henry, eyeing her first Olympics, was fastest in prelims.

Favorites Dana Vollmer and Kelsi Worrell advanced to the women’s 100m butterfly semifinals. Also advancing was favorite Kevin Cordes into the men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals.

MORE: Missy Franklin confident going into Trials after frustrating swims

Sunday Night Schedule
Men’s 400m IM final
Women’s 100m butterfly semifinals
Men’s 400m freestyle final
Women’s 400m IM final
Men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)