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Top skeleton slider’s federation boycotts Sochi World Championships

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The Latvian skeleton federation is boycotting the world championships in Sochi in February, meaning the world’s best in the sport appears set to skip the biggest competition of the season over Russia’s doping allegations.

Latvian Martins Dukurs has won seven straight World Cup skeleton season titles and four of the last five world championships.

The federation’s Sunday boycott statement was shared by a Facebook account appearing to belong to Dukurs. Dukurs’ father and coach confirmed the boycott, according to Latvian media.

Dukurs was upset for Olympic titles in 2010 and 2014, taking silver behind Canadian Jon Montgomery in Vancouver and Russian Alexander Tretiakov in Sochi.

Tretiakov is one of the athletes named on the Sochi doping list first reported by The New York Times in May and is competing this season. He finished second in the opening World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., last weekend.

Dukurs’ brother, Tomass Dukurs, finished fourth in the Sochi race won by Tretiakov.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation has heard public calls from Olympic medalists from the U.S., Canada, Latvia and Great Britain that holding worlds in Sochi threatens their safety amid the serious doping allegations about Russia.

While some have threatened boycott, the Latvian skeleton federation is the first organization with a high-profile bobsled or skeleton athlete to say it will definitely boycott if the February event is not moved from Sochi.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said that it will “read and digest” the second part of a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report that was published Friday with “highest priority and urgency.”

From the Latvian skeleton federation on Sunday:

“Enough time has passed since first public WADA and IOC announcements regarding dirty athletes in our sport.
As members of skeleton sport community we feel that more can still be done to make it right.
Now, according to latest reports, we say- enough is enough.

And while our international federation is still going to: “read and digest the report”, we will do what WE can- we will be glad to race in World Championships at any track of the world, but

WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in World Championships in Sochi, Russia- a place where Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014.”

MORE: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in organized doping, probe says

Posted by Martins Dukurs on Sunday, December 11, 2016

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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