Jason Brown again slowed by injury going into U.S. Championships

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Jason Brown was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula on Dec. 16, kept off the ice for the rest of December and goes into next week’s U.S. Championships with 80 percent strength in that right leg.

Not ideal for the only Olympian in the men’s field as he tries to make the two-man world championships team.

“I’m going to do the best I can do with what I’ve got right now,” Brown said Thursday. “I am in the healing process. I am getting stronger.”

Brown, 22, was the breakout U.S. men’s skater of 2014 and 2015.

In Sochi, he was the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976 and finished ninth. In 2015, Brown became the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 2004 and finished fourth at the world championships, the best U.S. men’s finish since 2009.

But Brown missed last year’s U.S. Championships with a back strain. His petition to be placed on the world championships team was denied.

Brown came back strong this fall with a second-place finish at Skate America in October, with a score that ranks him second among Americans this season.

Then Brown started feeling right leg soreness before his next competition in November. He finished seventh at NHK Trophy in Japan, his performances impacted by a lack of strength in that leg.

He returned to Colorado and continued training, but the soreness and fatigue turned into sharp pain. He received the diagnosis on Dec. 16, exactly five weeks before the U.S. Championships short program, and was told the recovery would take four to six weeks.

Brown returned to skating two weeks ago and started doing jumps on Tuesday. He hasn’t attempted a quadruple jump in practice yet but isn’t ruling out being able to next week.

VIDEO: Kristi Yamaguchi previews nationals

If Brown can be anywhere near his best skating from the fall, he should be able to finish in the top two at nationals and make the world championships team.

Defending U.S. champion Adam Rippon is out. While 17-year-old phenom Nathan Chen is the favorite, no other skater in the field has scored within 25 points of Brown’s top total this season.

If Brown finishes lower than second, he could still be placed on the worlds team due to his strong results in recent years.

“I might be 100 percent in a week,” Brown said. “I don’t want to rule that out. But the main thing is, I want to show that I can be a good candidate.”

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)