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China Olympic athletes must sign pledges not to cheat in Rio

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BEIJING (AP) — Seeking to dismiss lingering doubts, a top Chinese sports official says the country has committed to a zero-tolerance stance on doping ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Vice Director of the General Administration of Sports Gao Zhidian told the official Xinhua News Agency on Thursday that Olympics-bound athletes and coaches are required to sign pledges not to cheat, saying violators would be severely punished.

Gao said athletes, coaches and team doctors must also pass a written exam on banned substances with only those scoring 80 percent or more permitted to go to Rio.

“China has been firmly against doping and has a zero-tolerance approach to this particular problem,” said Gao, who is also deputy chef de mission of China’s 711- member Olympic delegation. “We have made it very clear that we want to ensure fair play and the well-being of athletes.”

China has sought to shake off a reputation for doping, particularly in distance running and swimming that gave rise to multiple scandals in the 1990s.

That resolve was questioned when it emerged that officials waited six months before revealing that champion swimmer Sun Yang served a three-month suspension after testing positive in May 2014.

Sun, the gold medalist in the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, was named male swimmer of the meet at the world championships in Kazan, Russia, last August.

China is sending 416 athletes to Rio, including 35 former Olympic champions. China topped the table at the 2008 Games and won the second largest number of medals in London, including 38 golds.

Based on recent performances by Chinese athletes, some studies predict the country could return to the top of the table at Rio with as many as 39 golds.

MORE: China’s Olympic roster its second-largest ever

Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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