Pole vaulter successfully blames positive cocaine test on kissing a stranger

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Star Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber tested positive for cocaine before the Rio Olympics following a tryst with a woman he met on Craigslist.

The 2015 world champion was permitted to compete in Brazil after it was determined he inadvertently ingested trace amounts of the banned substance through kissing. Barber called the positive test “a complete shock.”

The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada made its decision Aug. 11, four days before Barber competed in Rio de Janeiro, where he finished 10th. The report wasn’t released until Thursday.

“It was quite an ordeal going into the Olympics, but everything worked out the way it was supposed to,” Barber said during a conference call.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport proposed a four-year competition ban. Barber wasn’t suspended but was stripped of his 2016 national title.

“This has been a learning experience for Shawn,” Athletics Canada, the nation’s governing track and field body, said in a statement. “He is a young athlete learning how to compete on the field of play, and prepare away from it.”

According to the report, Barber used cocaine July 8, the night before he won the Canadian title in Edmonton, Alberta. He had posted in the “casual encounter” section of Craigslist for a “professional person” to engage in a sexual rendezvous as a way to relieve stress. He specified he wanted a woman who was drug- and disease-free, the report said.

The woman, referred to as “W” in the report, testified that she consumed cocaine before she met Barber and then again in the bathroom of his hotel room. She said at his hearing he could not have known she’d used the drug, and she felt “horrible about what happened.”

The woman also said she had consumed a 26-ounce bottle of vodka that night and had four or five drinks before meeting Barber. She said he declined her offer of a drink. The two did not exchange money, the report said.

Arbitrator Ross Dumoulin wrote in his decision that the encounter was a “pre-meditated effort” by Barber to have a sex with “a stranger in a hotel room. Exercising utmost caution would require him to have made inquiries to satisfy himself that there was no cocaine involved,” he added.

Barber was a strong hope for a medal at the Rio Olympics after winning the 2015 world title in Beijing. But he struggled in the rainy conditions in Rio.

Last fall, Barber’s father, George, was banned by Athletics Canada. George Barber had acted as Shawn’s coach until the governing body learned of his 2007 criminal conviction on charges of having sex with a student while employed at a U.S. high school.

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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