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Wayde van Niekerk wants World Championships schedule change for double

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Wayde van Niekerk wants the schedule for the World Track and Field Championships in London in August to be changed so he can better attempt to sweep the 200m and 400m.

The South African won the Rio Olympic 400m in 43.03 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson‘s world record.

Many track and field fans hope to see Van Niekerk race Usain Bolt for the first time this year, in what is expected to be Bolt’s last season before retiring.

That race doesn’t appear likely at the world championships. Bolt is not expected to contest the 200m at worlds or perhaps at all this season.

“[Coach Glen Mills] still wants me to do the double, but I’ve told him I would really like to just do the 100m, so at the start of the season we’ll decide exactly what, but that’s what’s on my mind,” Bolt said on Jamaican TV in September, according to Reuters.

Van Niekerk’s agent said Friday that there’s no chance the South African races the 100m or the 4x100m relay at worlds if he’s able to race the 200m and 400m.

“Wayde wants to try and double … but currently the program at world champs in London is not conducive to that,” Van Niekerk’s agent said. “We’re in conversations with the IAAF to see if there is any possibility to alter the program.”

The IAAF said later Friday that it hasn’t received any request to change the world championships schedule from South Africa’s track and field federation.

The current worlds schedule has the 200m first round taking place about two and a half hours before the 400m final. Van Niekerk said he plans to double regardless of if the schedule is changed, according to South Africa media.

Last year, the Olympic track and field schedule was changed to give Allyson Felix more time between the 200m and 400m. She ended up qualifying for only the 400m, missing the U.S. team in the 200m by .01 after an ankle injury.

Van Niekerk said he will enter 200m races during the spring and/or early summer to prepare. His personal best, 19.94 seconds from 2015, would have earned the silver medal behind Bolt’s 19.78 in Rio.

“I’ve made up my mind, that’s really what I want to do for this year,” Van Niekerk said in a South African TV interview published Thursday. “I’ve achieved so much in the 400m these last two years. I feel I want to put a new element or aspect into my athletics. I feel I want to invest a bit more in the 200m and the 100m without totally neglecting the 400m. So I want to continue improving myself in the 400m, but at the same time I want to get back to why I started track and field, and that was the 100m and 200m.”

Van Niekerk said it’s “bittersweet” that he “probably” won’t race the 4x100m relay at worlds, assuming South Africa qualifies a 4x100m team.

“We’ll see how many body feels, and if I’m willing to take that risk,” he said. “At the moment, I’m already trying a new challenge with the 200m and 400m. So I don’t believe I should take that extra bit of pressure for myself. Let’s first see how I do this year, and how I handle that, and we’ll decide about the 4x100m. But right now I really need to make up my mind on how I would like to take this year.”

As for his goals in 2017? Van Niekerk wants to set a personal best.

“It’s really just about that growth, that continuous growth,” he said. “I’d love to do better than what I’ve done last year. So, whatever times I’ve set up, or whatever times is under my name right now, it needs to fall.”

MORE: Bolt ’50-50′ on competing in 2018

U.S. women’s hockey roster named for world championship

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Hilary KnightKendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker are among 14 PyeongChang Olympians on the 23-player U.S. roster for the world women’s hockey championship that begins March 31 in Nova Scotia.

Every major star from the Olympic champion team returns save captain Meghan Duggan (pregnant) and twins Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (childbirths in December and January).

The U.S. won the last five world titles dating to 2013, though last year’s came with controversy in the final against host Finland.

Finland, after upsetting Canada in the semifinals, forced the U.S. into overtime. The Finns scored and celebrated before the goal was overturned due to non-incidental goaltender interference. The U.S. went on to win in a shootout, just as it did in the PyeongChang Olympic final with Canada.

The U.S. coach since PyeongChang has been Bob Corkum, a 12-season NHL defenseman who succeeded Olympic head coach Robb Stauber.

Wisconsin sophomore forward Britta Curl is in line to become the first player born in the 2000s to participate in an Olympics or worlds for the U.S.

The full U.S. roster for worlds (*=PyeongChang Olympian):

Goalies
Alex Cavallini*
Aerin Frankel
Maddie Rooney*

Defenders
Cayla Barnes*
Kacey Bellamy*
Megan Bozek
Savannah Harmon
Megan Keller*
Emily Matheson*
Lee Stecklein*

Forwards
Hannah Brandt*
Dani Cameranesi*
Alex Carpenter
Jesse Compher
Kendall Coyne Schofield*
Britta Curl
Brianna Decker*
Amanda Kessel*
Hilary Knight*
Kelly Pannek*
Abby Roque
Hayley Scamurra
Grace Zumwinkle

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MORE: U.S. Olympic hockey captain plans post-pregnancy return

FINA supported Sun Yang against potential ban in doping case

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GENEVA (AP) — International swimming authorities worked to protect three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang from being banned from the sport in a doping case, according to a Swiss supreme court document.

A verdict in the case against the Chinese swimmer is expected within days from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But a federal court document shows that swimming governing body FINA supported arguments by Sun’s lawyers to have an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency thrown out early last year in a pre-trial dispute over an alleged conflict of interest for the agency’s lead prosecutor, American lawyer Richard Young.

The swimmer’s lawyers appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which dismissed their procedural objections weeks before a rare public hearing held by CAS last November.

“In the course of the proceedings, the swimmer and FINA raised a plea of inadmissibility because of the allegedly late filing of the (WADA) appeal brief,” said the Swiss federal ruling, dated Oct. 28.

Had Young, who previously prosecuted doping cases involving Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones and is based in Colorado, been considered ineligible for the case because of his past work for FINA, the WADA appeal could have technically missed its deadline and allowed CAS to decline jurisdiction.

Instead, Young stayed on the WADA team for the public hearing.

Sun is facing a ban of up to eight years for his alleged refusal to provide blood and urine in September 2018 in a visit by sample collectors to his home in China. WADA appealed after a FINA tribunal merely warned Sun and cited doubts about credentials shown by three sample collection officials.

FINA has faced criticisms in the past, including from some top swimmers, for favoring Sun during his career. It did not announce Sun’s three-month ban for doping imposed by Chinese authorities until after it ended in 2014.

The Lausanne-based FINA declined to comment on attempts to remove Young and stop WADA’s case. Young did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Months before the public hearing by CAS, Sun’s lawyers and FINA asked Young to stand down from the case because of a possible conflict of interest. Young had resigned from FINA’s legal commission in February 2019 to free himself for WADA’s appeal, the federal court document stated.

The open-door doping hearing in Montreux, Switzerland, was streamed live for 10 hours on the CAS website.

Neither previous procedural appeal — judged by CAS in July and the federal court in October — was aired in the doping hearing when the sample collection incident was examined. During the late-night confrontation, a security guard eventually used a hammer to smash a container holding a vial of Sun’s blood as the swimmer lit the scene with his mobile phone.

“That is pretty sensational,” Young said three months ago in court. “But he (Sun) was nailed on a tampering violation before any of that happened.”

Sun has denied any wrongdoing. Any ban imposed in the coming days would likely prevent him defending his 200m freestyle title at the Tokyo Olympics.

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics