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Olympian failed drug test due to ‘frequent, passionate’ kissing

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Gil Roberts, a U.S. Olympic 400m runner, successfully argued that kissing his girlfriend led to him unknowingly ingesting a banned substance and failing a March drug test.

Roberts, a Rio 4x400m relay gold medalist, was provisionally suspended in May after both his A and B samples from a March 24 test came back positive. He had a small amount of the well-known banned masking agent probenecid in his system.

On June 20, an arbitrator cleared Roberts of wrongdoing, allowing him to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships two days later. Roberts finished second in the 400m in a personal-best time, qualifying for the world championships in London in August.

Roberts, who has never before tested positive, argued that he ingested probenecid through “frequently and passionately” kissing his girlfriend in the day(s) leading up to his March 24 test, according to an arbitration decision.

On March 14, Roberts’ girlfriend received a sinus infection medication labeled Moxylong in semi-rural India.

She continued to take the medicine after arriving in the U.S., including on March 24, about three hours before Roberts’ out-of-competition drug test.

The arbiter decision document stated that Roberts and his girlfriend kissed between the time she took the medication and when Roberts provided a urine sample, including when Roberts told his girlfriend that he was leaving the room to be tested.

“Roberts could not count the number of times they kissed between 1 p.m. and the doping control officer’s arrival [at 4:07],” the decision read. “He had no idea that kissing his girlfriend could lead to his ingesting a prohibited substance. When he kissed her he did not remember the taste of medicine in her mouth.”

Roberts’ girlfriend later googled Moxylong and found that it contained probenecid.

An arbitrator accepted Roberts’ story.

He was not banned, in part to consideration of previous, similar cases of tennis player Richard Gasquet and pole vaulter Shawn Barber failing drug tests for cocaine after kissing women who had used the drug.

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Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff set Australian Open duel

Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff
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Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff will meet in the third round of a second straight Grand Slam, this time at the Australian Open on Friday.

Osaka, the defending champion and world No. 4, and Gauff, the 15-year-old American phenom, each won second-round matches in Melbourne to reach the final 32.

Osaka swept Chinese Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4 on a windy Wednesday afternoon. Later, Gauff followed her first-round win over Venus Williams by eliminating Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

“I know what to expect,” Gauff said. “I’m excited.”

Osaka beat Gauff 6-3, 6-0 in the U.S. Open third round on Aug. 31. In the most memorable moment of that night, Osaka urged Gauff to share the on-court victor’s interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s better than going into the showers and crying,” Osaka told Gauff in front of a packed crowd. “Let these people know how you feel.”

Gauff obliged after at first declining.

“I’m not the type of person who wants to cry in front of everyone,” she said later. “I didn’t want to take that moment away from [Osaka], as well.”

Gauff, ranked No. 684 at this time last year, is now No. 67. She broke through by beating Williams in the Wimbledon first round, then reaching the round of 16.

Gauff won a lower-level WTA Tour event in October and now ranks fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying. The top four after the French Open qualify for the Tokyo Games, though Gauff has fewer than half the points as No. 4 Alison Riske.

“It’s been really cool to watch her grow because it’s happened so fast,” Osaka said.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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John Isner leaning toward skipping Olympics again

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John Isner, the highest-ranked U.S. male singles tennis player, is considering skipping the Olympics for a second straight time.

“I haven’t put a ton of thought into it, but as of right now, I think I’m leaning towards not playing,” the 19th-ranked player said at the Australian Open on Tuesday. “It’s about scheduling. I know the Olympics, it’s a fantastic honor. There’s no doubt about that. … Right now, at this stage in my career, it’s not a huge priority for me. So that’s probably the main reason I won’t be going. I certainly love playing in the summer in America, and I’m going to focus on that.”

The Tokyo Games take place the same week as a lower-level ATP Tour event in Atlanta that Isner, a former University of Georgia star, has won five times.

Other notable male players already said they will pass on Tokyo, including Sam Querrey, the top American in Olympic qualifying standings.

Austrian Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open finalist, is prioritizing an ATP event in Kitzbühel the week of the Olympics. The U.S. doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are not planning to play the Olympics in their final season before retirement, their manager said in November.

“The Olympics is very tough on the schedule … especially with Davis Cup,” Isner said in 2016, according to USA Today. “I think the fact that they have no [ATP ranking] points [at the Olympics], to be honest, was a pretty big factor as well. Obviously the Olympics is not about the money, but no points I think hindered me a bit.”

Isner, who turns 35 on April 26, is likely giving up his last chance to play Olympic singles. In his only Olympic participation, he reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Games, plus lost an opening-round doubles match there with Andy Roddick.

The top four U.S. men qualify for Tokyo, assuming they are among the top 60 overall qualifiers (maximum four per country) after this spring’s French Open.

Taylor FritzReilly Opelka, Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul are the U.S. men currently in Olympic qualifying position if excluding Querrey and Isner.

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