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Ukrainian weightlifter stripped of 2012 Olympic bronze medal

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LONDON (AP) — A Ukrainian weightlifter was stripped of her bronze medal from the 2012 London Olympics on Wednesday, the first athlete formally disqualified by the IOC after the retesting of doping samples from the past two Summer Games.

Yulia Kalina, who finished third in the 58-kilogram division in London, tested positive for the steroid turinabol in reanalysis of her stored samples and was retroactively disqualified from the games, the International Olympic Committee said.

A three-man disciplinary panel stripped her of the medal and ordered her to return it.

The IOC asked the international weightlifting federation to revise the results and consider any further sanctions against Kalina, who could face a two-year ban.

The IOC recorded 55 positive results — 32 from Beijing and 23 from London — in the retesting program, which used enhanced techniques to catch cheats who escaped detection at the time. The Russian Olympic Committee has said 22 of the cases involved Russian athletes, including medalists.

The IOC stores Olympic doping samples for 10 years, allowing them to be reopened and reanalyzed when improved testing methods become available.

The latest retesting program targeted athletes who were in contention to compete at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but has also been widened to cover many medalists.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that further disqualifications will be announced once disciplinary procedures are completed, including hearings and testing of “B” samples.

“The majority of the cases have been dealt with on the IOC level and have been forwarded to the international federations,” Bach said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press and two other international news agencies. “The disciplinary commissions are working hard. We will know pretty soon.”

“If there are no surprises to the test results and the legal procedures, you can be sure wherever an infringement is proven there will be a sanction,” he said.

The International Weightlifting Federation reported last month that its sport had produced 20 positive cases. Four Olympic gold medalists from Kazakhstan and medalists from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus have already been provisionally suspended by the IWF.

Entire teams from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan could be barred from the Rio Olympics because three or more positive cases from each country were discovered during the retests. Each national federation faces a possible one-year ban.

MORE: Thomas Bach cites ‘right to individual justice’ in Russian doping

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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