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U.S. skeleton sliders want global drug-testing standards to match those in U.S.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — There was an offseason when U.S. skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender got a knock on her door from drug testers 19 times in the span of a few weeks. Sometimes they wanted blood. Sometimes they wanted urine. Often, they wanted both.

NBCOlympics.com: 2018 U.S. Olympic skeleton team

The process is annoying. It’s also effective, so Uhlaender and her teammates wonder why it’s not the global standard.

Uhlaender and other members of the U.S. skeleton team suggested Thursday that the rest of the world should follow the testing model employed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, especially with the ongoing fallout from the Russian doping scandal that saw widespread accusations of cheating and now a belief that many flat-out beat a broken system.

“I’d love if the global model adopted ours,” three-time U.S. men’s skeleton Olympian John Daly said. “We get tested pretty strictly, as does Canada. Everyone else? You talk to some of the other athletes, they don’t even know how to fill out the paperwork. The testing isn’t happening. We don’t care if our testing is strict. That’s fine with me. We just want the rest of the world to be like ours.”

It’s not the first time American athletes have offered this opinion. Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps took his pleas for change to Congress last year, saying that he does not believe “that I’ve stood up at international competitions and the rest of the field has been clean.”

Same goes these days for sliders, who saw many Russians sanctioned and banned by the International Olympic Committee — and many of those reinstated after appeals went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I’m not in other nations’ testing pools, so I can’t speak exactly for how often they get tested,” said Matt Antoine, a two-time Olympian and the bronze medalist in men’s skeleton at the Sochi Games. “But my perception, talking to them, is we get tested considerably more than they do.”

Uhlaender finished fourth at the Sochi Olympics four years ago. When Russia’s Elena Nikitina was found by the IOC to have been part of the doping program at those Olympics, Uhlaender was expected to move up to Nikitina’s bronze-medal spot. But the CAS ruling essentially restored Nikitina’s medal, Uhlaender still doesn’t have one and now Nikitina is among those in PyeongChang fighting for a chance to compete.

NBCOlympics.com: See full skeleton schedule

“Mindblowing,” Uhlaender said. “I think initially when the IOC took such a strong stance to ban Russia and suspend the federation completely and strip the medals, it gave the athletes who are holding on to the spirit of sport hope and kind of strengthened our Olympic spirit. And then when CAS took that away, it did the opposite. So I think we’re all turning to the IOC for reform and to take a strong stance to give us that spirit back.

“We’re holding onto an Olympic spirit that feels like it’s dying.”

There are still 45 Russian athletes who are trying last-minute appeals with hopes of getting into the Olympics. Some coaches and support staff who were banned also are trying to win appeals before CAS, which is planning to issue decisions Friday — just hours before the opening ceremony.

Nikitina believes she will win, and said the Russians will fight for as long as they can. If they are successful, the IOC may have no choice but to accept athletes who they say are dopers.

“For me, if that’s allowed, my faith in the system will be heartbroken,” Uhlaender said.

Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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