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Russia loses more Sochi Olympic medals in latest doping bans

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The IOC banned five more Russian Olympians — and stripped the nation of two more Sochi Olympic medals — in its latest round of punishments for the nation’s doping violations leading up to and during the 2014 Winter Games.

Russia has now been stripped of 11 of its leading 33 medals from the Sochi Olympics. The U.S. is temporarily the medal standings leader with 28 overall, though medal upgrades and more disqualifications will impact the table.

Nineteen Russian Sochi Olympians have been banned overall.

The IOC will announce whether Russia will be allowed to take part in the PyeongChang Olympics on Dec. 5.

Bobsledders Dmitry Trunenkov and Aleksey Negodaylo, who made up half of Russia’s four-man gold-medal team, led Monday’s banned list.

The driver of that four-man sled (and Russia’s two-man gold-medal sled), the retired Aleksandr Zubkov, was retroactively disqualified and banned for life last week. So Trunenkov and Negodaylo had already lost their gold medals before Monday’s announcement.

A Latvian team led by driver Oskars Melbardis is in line to move up from silver to gold. The late Steven Holcomb and his U.S. team could get silver.

The fourth-place team, piloted by Russian Alexander Kasjanov, could get bronze. None of the members of Kasjanov’s sled have been sanctioned by the IOC or the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF).

MORE: Updated Sochi Olympic medal standings

Two Russian biathletes were stripped of two combined medals on Monday.

Olga Vilukhina and Yana Romanova, two of the four members of Russia’s biathlon relay team that took silver, are banned from any future Olympics.

Vilukhina also took silver in the 7.5km sprint.

Vilukhina and Romanova were also banned by the International Biathlon Union last winter after being named in a Russian doping investigation. Vilukhina hasn’t competed in nearly two years; Romanova since March 2015.

Norway and the Czech Republic could be upgraded to silver and bronze, respectively, in the relay. Ukraine’s Vita Semerenko and Italy’s Karin Oberhofer could move up to silver and bronze, respectively, in the sprint.

The fifth athlete retroactively disqualified and banned for life Monday was skeleton slider Sergei Chudinov, who finished fifth in Sochi.

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MORE: No end in sight for Russia track and field ban

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.

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.

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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