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Alberto Salazar responds to USADA investigation reports

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Track coach Alberto Salazar again denied breaking anti-doping rules following more reports of details from an ongoing U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project program.

“As I have noted repeatedly, the successes my athletes have achieved are through hard work and dedication,” Salazar wrote in an email Wednesday, according to the Oregonian. “I believe in a clean sport and a methodical, dedicated, approach to training. The Oregon Project will never permit doping and all Oregon Project athletes are required to comply with the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code and IAAF Rules.”

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the USADA investigation determined then-Nike Oregon Project runner Dathan Ritzenhein “likely” received an infusion of the substance L-carnitine above the legal dosage limit in December 2011.

An interim USADA report published by Flotrack backed the Times report regarding Ritzenhein while saying its findings were “subject to change” at “this preliminary stage” of the investigation. It also agreed with previous reports that other Salazar-coached athletes received L-carnitine infusions and said it was “highly likely” they were above the legal limit of 50 milliliters per six-hour period.

“USADA’s conjecture regarding the L-carnitine injections is simply wrong,” Salazar wrote Wednesday, according to the Oregonian. “Evidence has been submitted to USADA disproving their unsupported assumptions.”

Salazar said the Nike Oregon Project has “nothing to hide.”

“I’ve done more than any coach to continuously disprove false allegations where no violation has occurred,” he wrote. “I fully cooperated, voluntarily answered USADA’s questions under oath and provided thousands of documents.”

The three-time Olympian Ritzenhein, who left Salazar’s group in 2014, said he “complied with all WADA rules, including my use of L-carnitine,” in a reported 2015 statement.

At least seven former athletes and staff members of Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project have spoken with USADA, some alleging that Salazar violated medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes, according to June 2015 reports.

Salazar called allegations of cheating from his former athletes and staff “demonstrably false” in an 11,000-word response three weeks after the June 2015 reports.

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April Ross, Alix Klineman back atop Olympic beach volleyball qualifying

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman moved back on top of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifying standings by winning an event in Itapema, Brazil this week.

Ross, who split from Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017, and Klineman beat Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 25-23, 18-21, 15-10 in Sunday’s final for their third title in 11 FIVB World Tour tournaments together.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said, according to the FIVB. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best.

Ross and Klineman supplanted Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, for the lead in the early U.S. Olympic qualifying rankings with still more than a year of events ahead.

1. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events played)
2. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,100 (7 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,180 (5 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,000 (4 events)
5. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)
6. Sponcil/Claes — 1,600 (3 events)

Each team’s 12 best results from Sept. 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020, go into the Olympic qualifying rankings. That means Ross and Klineman are comfortably in front, having played two fewer events than Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who lost in the quarterfinals in Itapema.

The top two U.S. pairs come June 15, 2020, provided they’re ranked high enough internationally, will qualify for Tokyo. Most of the qualifying events, including the ones with the most points available, are still to come this summer.

Ross, 36, picked up Klineman, 29, after Walsh Jennings didn’t join her in signing a domestic AVP contract in 2017. The 6-foot-5 Klineman primarily played indoor the previous decade, including at Stanford from 2007-10 after being the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school.

MORE: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Katie Ledecky extends 5-year win streak

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Katie Ledecky extended a five-year domestic win streak by taking the 200m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Swim Series at Bloomington on Saturday.

In her last full meet before July’s world championships, Ledecky clocked 1:55.80 to beat training partner Simone Manuel by 1.44 seconds for her second win in as many days. Ledecky is also entered in Sunday’s 800m free on the last day of the meet.

Ledecky, who also cruised to a 400m free victory on Friday, ranks third in the world in the 200m free this year, behind Australian Ariarne Titmus and Swede Sarah Sjöström (the Olympic silver medalist who is not expected to race the 200m free at worlds).

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, hasn’t lost a 200m, 400m, 800m or 1500m free final at a domestic meet since Allison Schmitt beat her in a 200m free on Jan. 18, 2014 when Ledecky was 16 years old.

BLOOMINGTON: Full Results

But Ledecky lost the two biggest 200m frees of this Olympic cycle so far, at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini handed Ledecky her first individual final defeat at a major international meet at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky dropped to third in the 200m free at Pan Pacs in Tokyo last year, beaten by younger swimmers Taylor Ruck of Canada and Rikako Ikee of Japan.

Ruck, who like Ledecky trains at Stanford, is in Bloomington, but she chose not to swim the 200m free on Saturday. She instead swam the 200m backstroke about 45 minutes after the 200m free and was upset by 17-year-old Regan Smith. Smith won in 2:06.47, moving to No. 3 in the world this year.

In other events Saturday, Ella Eastin captured the 400m individual medley in 4:37.18, taking 1.25 seconds off her personal best and moving to fifth in the world this year. Eastin is not on the world championships team after an untimely bout with mono before qualifying meets last summer.

Blake Pieroni won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.25. No American ranks in the top 20 in the world this year. World silver medalist Townley Haas did not enter Bloomington.

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