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U.S. wrestlers still plan to travel for Iran meet

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The executive director of USA Wrestling said Monday that the American team still plans to compete next month in Iran, one of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were temporarily banned from the U.S. by an executive order from President Donald Trump.

USA Wrestling’s Rich Bender told The Associated Press that the Americans have “every intention” of traveling to Kermanshah for the men’s freestyle World Cup on Feb. 16-17. Bender said the U.S. federation been given assurances from the Iranians that special attention is being given to their applications.

The scheduled trip to Iran will be the first major test for U.S. athletes travelling to one of the seven nations affected by Trump’s 90-day ban, issued last week.

“We’re going to respect the laws and orders of those in leadership positions in government and figure out how to embrace those and work with them to secure proper documentation for athletes to come here and us to go there,” Bender said.

Iran’s senior vice president Ishaq Jahangiri, through the official IRNA news agency, said Monday that Trump’s executive order was “illegal, inhumane and against human rights.”

The U.S. and Iran — two of the world’s top wrestling countries — have long found common ground on the mat. The U.S. wrestling team was the first American sports team to compete in Iran in nearly 20 years back in 1998, and the Iranian team has competed in the U.S. 16 times since the 1990s.

“Wrestling has shown a long, rich history of transcending politics and participating despite governmental disagreements,” Bender said. “That’s the beauty of sport and the Olympic movement. It’s about competition, not politics.”

USA Wrestling plans to send 13 wrestlers, two coaches, a referee, a medical staff member, a videographer and other official delegates to Kermanshah, which is in western Iran some 310 miles southwest of Tehran.

The annual World Cups in each discipline are among the most prestigious tournaments in the world. Iran will also host the Greco-Roman World Cup in Tehran in March.

MORE: Mo Farah ‘relieved’ he can travel home

Alistair Brownlee, after Ironman, leans toward Olympic return

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Alistair Brownlee is already the only triathlete with multiple Olympic titles. In July, he is reportedly leaning toward another impressive feat, to win an Olympic gold medal the summer after completing the Kona Ironman World Championships.

The Brit Brownlee said he is “definitely swinging towards” trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games, according to the Times of London. Brownlee’s manager confirmed the stance while noting that his result in the Ironman Western Australia on Dec. 1 will play into the ultimate decision.

Brownlee previously reportedly said he was “50-50” on going for the Olympics and that he had to decide between focusing on the shorter Olympic distance or the Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon.

Other Olympic triathletes transitioned to the Ironman and never went back, such as 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany and two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True.

Brownlee finished 21st in Kona on Oct. 12 in 8 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds, which was 33:50 behind the winner Frodeno.

Brownlee won four half Ironmans between 2017 and 2018 (sandwiched by a hip surgery), then finished second to Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 2.

One other triathlete won an Olympic title after completing the Kona Ironman — Austrian Kate Allen, who was seventh in Kona in 2002, then took gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

MORE: 2019 Kona Ironman World Championships Results

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Alberto Salazar appeals doping ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has registered an appeal by track coach Alberto Salazar against his ban for doping violations, though a hearing will take several months to prepare.

CAS says Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown appealed against their four-year bans by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

After a multi-year USADA investigation, Salazar and Brown were found guilty of doping violations linked to the Nike Oregon Project training camp. USADA said Salazar ran experiments with supplements and testosterone, and possessed and trafficked the banned substance.

The case also related to falsified and incomplete medical records that disguised the work.

CAS says Salazar and Brown asked for more time to file “written submissions and evidence,” adding the hearing is “unlikely to take place before March.”

Verdicts typically take at least a further several weeks.

MORE: Mary Cain raises issues from being coached by Salazar

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