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Usain Bolt did not exclude Andre De Grasse from race, meet boss says

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Usain Bolt did not exclude rival Andre De Grasse from racing him in a 100m in Monaco on Friday, the meet director reportedly said.

De Grasse’s coach was quoted in Canadian media saying that De Grasse — a Rio Olympic 100m and 200m medalist — was “booted out” of the Diamond League race and instead put into a separate 4x100m relay, per Bolt’s wishes.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold will air live Monaco coverage Friday at 2 p.m. ET, with Bolt’s race at 3:35. It’s Bolt’s last meet before August’s world championships, after which he is to retire.

Meet director Jean-Pierre Schoebel denied the claims from De Grasse’s camp, according to the Times of London.

“I am surprised because we discussed with the agent, and it was a discussion about money,” Schoebel said, according to the newspaper. “We don’t have the budget, and we stopped the discussion because we couldn’t find the money, so I don’t see why now there is a problem. [Bolt] explained that he was ready to face every athlete. But we are not able to pay every athlete.”

Bolt’s team also denied playing a role in De Grasse’s exclusion, according to British media. De Grasse refuted his coach’s reported claim on Friday, too.

“That was not true,” De Grasse said, according to the Telegraph. “I was never supposed to race Usain here. My focus was on the worlds. I just came here to run the relay with my teammates. Usain would never try to not run against someone. He’s a legend in the sport.”

Bolt, who is on a four-year winning streak, is known for rarely facing his chief rivals outside of major meets.

In 2012, London Olympic 100m and 200m silver medalist Yohan Blake cited “big money” for why he and Bolt didn’t race each other more often.

Appearance fees and sponsors can complicate top sprinters from facing each other. Bolt and De Grasse both wear Puma.

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MORE: Bolt: Nobody is running fast this year

Geraint Thomas attacks, takes Tour de France lead ahead of Chris Froome

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British Olympic track cycling champion Geraint Thomas grabbed the Tour de France lead, attacking with three and a half miles to win a summit finish on Stage 11 on Wednesday.

Thomas now leads a Team Sky one-two in the overall standings, 85 seconds ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, as the three-week Grand Tour passed the halfway mark.

“Froome is the [Team Sky] leader here, so there’s no pressure on me,” Thomas said Tuesday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It’s a bonus for me to be up there, and hopefully I can be there for as long as possible.”

The Tour continues Thursday with stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

The 109-mile stage features three beyond-category climbs — Col de la Madeleine, Croix-de-Fer and the iconic Alpe d’Huez finish after 21 switchbacks to close out the Tour’s three days in the Alps. The overall standings are sure to change.

Greg Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, went into stage 11 with a 2:22 lead, which he had tripled on the first mountain day Tuesday.

But Van Avermaet, who predicted he would lose the yellow jersey before stages Tuesday and Wednesday, cracked on the second of three major climbs Wednesday. He finished in a group 22 minutes after Thomas.

Van Avermaet is a super one-day racer but not a strong climber.

Thomas dons the yellow jersey for a second straight Tour. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic track cycling gold medalist won the opening stage in 2017 and wore the maillot jaune four days before Froome took over en route to his fourth title in Paris.

There was talk before and during this year’s Tour that Thomas could challenge Froome as Sky’s team leader, even though Froome has won the last three Grand Tours and is going for record-tying fifth Tour de France crown.

But Thomas and Sky have played that down.

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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