Maria Kuchina, Anna Chicherova
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Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio Olympics

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Russia’s ban from Olympic track and field means some of the sport’s most successful athletes are not eligible for the Rio Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.

Here are five Russian Olympic or World champions who are set to miss the Rio Games:

Yelena Isinbayeva, Pole Vault
Olympic champion in 2004, 2008
World champion in 2005, 2007, 2013
World-record holder

Isinbayeva, a 34-year-old converted youth gymnast, is the greatest female pole vaulter of all time and one of the greatest athletes in Russian history across all sports. She has broken the world record 17 times.

Isinbayeva is certainly past her prime, and her fitness a complete unknown after taking 2014 and 2015 off due to pregnancy and her build-up to Rio set back by injuries. She went three years between competing until June 21, when she cleared the highest height in the world this year.

MORE: Russian Olympic ban upheld by court | Ten U.S. athletes who may benefit

Anna Chicherova, High Jump
Olympic champion in 2012
World champion in 2011

Chicherova has been the most consistent female track and field athlete in the world the last decade. She and Usain Bolt are the only track and field athletes to earn individual medals at every Olympics and World Championships since 2007.

However, the 33-year-old reportedly failed a recent retest of 2008 Beijing Olympic doping samples, putting her bronze medal from those Games in jeopardy. Like Isinbayeva, Chicherova is in the twilight of her career. Her best clearance in domestic competitions this year would rank No. 4 in the world.

Sergey Shubenkov, 110m Hurdles
World champion in 2015

At age 25, Shubenkov is arguably the biggest Russian track and field star at or near a career peak. He was eliminated in the first round at 2011 Worlds, then the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics before winning bronze at the 2013 Worlds and gold last year.

Shubenkov has struggled this year while not being able to compete internationally, with a best time of 13.20 seconds that would be joint ninth place in world rankings, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Shubenkov said before Thursday’s ruling that he would “get drunk” if Russia lost its appeal.

Natalya Antyukh, 400m Hurdles
Olympic champion in 2012

Antyukh, 34, beat American Lashinda Demus by .07 for London Olympic gold, eight years after taking bronze in the Athens Olympic 400m (without hurdles).

Antyukh has also been a longtime member of the 4x400m relay pool for Russia, a close rival to the U.S. over the last 10 to 15 years. Her Rio Olympic 400m hurdles chances were not great, given she ranked No. 42 in the world last year and withdrew before the 2015 World Championships.

Maria Kuchina, High Jump
World champion in 2015

Kuchina, 23, set a personal best to win the 2015 World Championship, continuing a strong tradition of female Russian high jumpers. She was expected to make her Olympic debut in Rio.

Kuchina told NBC News in June that she has never taken performance-enhancing drugs, nor been urged to take performance-enhancing drugs.

“Why should I pay for someone else’s mistakes?” she said, according to NBC News.

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David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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