Norway ski star banned from Olympics over lip cream

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Norwegian cross-country skiing champion Therese Johaug is set to miss the PyeongChang Olympics over lip cream.

Johaug, a triple Olympic medalist and seven-time world champion, tested positive last September for a steroid found in a cream given to her by a team doctor to treat sunburned lips.

Johaug claimed the doctor told her it was OK to use, but she failed to check clear warning labels and was suspended all last season up to this November.

On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport extended her current doping ban into April, through the Olympics in February.

The court ruling came after an appeal by the International Ski Federation, which felt the original 13-month ban handed down by Norwegian sports officials was too lenient.

“I am heartbroken,” a tearful Johaug said at a news conference within an hour of the announcement, according to The Associated Press. “I had a dream to get to the Olympics. I think it is unfair, I feel I was unfairly treated.”

Norway’s Olympic Committee had previously banned the 29-year-old from October 2016 to November 2017, saying she was not at significant fault.

“I am not guilty. I asked the [team] doctor, and he said it was not on the doping list,” Johaug said at an Oct. 19 news conference, wiping tears away with her hands (video here), according to the AP. “And he said no.”

In March, the International Ski Federation appealed for a longer ban of 16 to 20 months, which would rule her out of the Winter Games. The federation argued that Johaug deserved more fault in part because the medication was “unknown to her and was purchased in a foreign country.”

A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel decided to give Johaug an 18-month ban for her negligence in missing a clear warning label listing the banned substance.

“Johaug failed to conduct a basic check of the packaging, which not only listed a prohibited substance as an ingredient but also included clear doping cautionary warning,” the court said in a press release.

Though Johaug had an “otherwise clean anti-doping record,” the panel chose to follow the letter of the World Anti-Doping Code, which calls for a 12-to-24-month suspension in this type of case.

Johaug was the world’s top cross-country skier in 2015-16, winning the World Cup overall title.

In her absence, two other Norwegians starred last season — Heidi Weng and 10-time Olympic medalist Marit Bjoergen, who was coming back from childbirth.

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MORE: U.S. cross-country skiers mark most successful world champs

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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