U.S. volleyball player Max Holt OK for Olympics after meldonium case

Max Holt
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Max Holt, who was named to the U.S. Olympic volleyball team on June 21, tested positive for meldonium via a June 10 sample, but can compete in the Rio Games because he took meldonium in December, before it became illegal Jan. 1.

Holt and other members of his Russian club team, Dynamo Moscow, received medication in December and were assured by a team doctor, who did not give a medical justification, that it was legal, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

“It was not until weeks later that Holt and his teammates realized they had been given meldonium,” according to USADA. “After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the extremely low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1.”

That meldonium remained in Holt’s system for six months is no surprise, given a World Anti-Doping Agency update in April.

That Holt received medication from a doctor while with a Russian team is also no surprise, given meldonium was the source of dozens of failed drug tests earlier this year, mostly by Russian athletes. Most notably, Maria Sharapova, who took meldonium well before and then after Jan. 1 and is appealing a ban to Jan. 25, 2018.

“The fair determination was made that Holt’s use of meldonium came prior to its inclusion on the WADA Prohibited List,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a press release. “This case serves as a reminder to all athletes that they must be diligent from a health and clean sport standpoint about exactly what they are using, and not simply ingest an unknown substance from just any coach or doctor.”

MORE: Olympic roster set for top-ranked U.S. women’s volleyball team

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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