Abeba Aregawi
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Abeba Aregawi’s meldonium ban lifted, Olympic status unclear

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Ethiopian-born Swedish runner Abeba Aregawi‘s meldonium ban has been lifted, but the 2013 World 1500m champion’s status for the Olympics has not been determined, the Swedish track and field federation said Thursday.

Aregawi, 26, was suspended indefinitely in February after failing a drug test for meldonium, the substance that later gained widespread media attention after it was learned that many Russians, including Maria Sharapova, also failed tests.

Meldonium was switched from legal to illegal starting Jan. 1. However, it’s unknown exactly how long meldonium stays in the body, so the World Anti-Doping Agency has relaxed punishments. It was not proven Aregawi took meldonium after Jan. 1, according to the Swedish Sports Confederation.

Aregawi has not competed this year, but she had qualified for the Swedish Olympic team by finishing in the top eight at the 2015 World Championships. She was removed from the team with her suspension in February, and now there will be discussions about her status for Rio, according to the Swedish track and federation.

Aregawi ran the fastest women’s 1500m at the London Olympics, when she represented Ethiopia, but it came in the semifinals.

She finished fifth in the slower final won by Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin, who was stripped of the gold medal last year for doping.

In 2013, Aregawi switched to Sweden and won six of the nine Diamond League 1500m races plus the world title in a dominating season. U.S. Olympian Jenny Simpson took silver behind Aregawi at worlds.

In 2014, Aregawi was overtaken as the world’s best 1500m runner by the Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan and Simpson.

In 2015, Aregawi won zero Diamond League races and finished sixth at the world championships, won by Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, who also broke the world record last year.

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Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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