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Caster Semenya sets national record in Doha, dismisses ‘nonsense’ rule

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Caster Semenya lowered her 1500m national record, then reportedly dismissed questions about a new IAAF rule limiting female testosterone levels in her events.

“I don’t talk about nonsense,” the Olympic and world 800m champion said at the Diamond League opener in Doha on Friday, according to multiple reports, echoing her response to a similar question last August.

South Africa’s Olympic Committee said Semenya, whom track officials mandated undergo gender testing in 2009, is expected to be affected by the rule planned to go into effect Nov. 1. South Africa’s track and field federation has said it will see that the rule is challenged to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Semenya broke four minutes for the first time in the 1500m in the Qatar capital on Friday.

She moved from fifth to first in the last lap against a field that lacked any of the other top seven women from the 2016 Olympics or 2017 Worlds. Semenya earned 1500m bronze at last year’s worlds to complement her 800m title.

Full Doha meet results are here.

In other events, Kendra Harrison edged Brianna McNeal in a matchup of world-record holder and Olympic champion in the 100m hurdles. McNeal led early but clipped the eighth of 10 hurdles and ended up .05 behind Harrison, who clocked 12.53 seconds, well off her record of 12.20. It was McNeal’s first international meet since the Rio Games and a yearlong ban for missing three drug tests.

American Noah Lyles won the men’s 200m in a personal-best 19.83. Surprise world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey was third in 20.11, and Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada was sixth in 20.46. Lyles, 20, won last season’s Diamond League final but missed worlds because he withdrew from the U.S. Championships with a hamstring strain.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou prevailed in the women’s 100m in a personal-best 10.85, the fastest time in the world this year. Jamaican Elaine Thompson, the Olympic champion, was third in 10.93, marking her second 100m loss since the start of 2016. World champion Tori Bowie of the U.S. was not in the Doha field.

World silver medalist Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took the 400m in a national record 43.87 seconds. Only Michael Johnson has run faster this early in a year. The race lacked Olympic champion and world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk, who is coming back from an ACL tear.

Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor was outdueled by Portuguese rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo in the triple jump, 17.95 meters to 17.81.

Abderrahman Samba of Qatar took the men’s 400m hurdles in 47.57, the world’s fastest time in nearly eight years and the fastest time ever this early in a year. Olympic champion Kerron Clement was sixth in 50.19.

The Diamond League moves to Shanghai a week from Saturday, with Christian ColemanJustin Gatlin and De Grasse expected to meet in the 100m.

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‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ primetime special covers social justice, combating inequality

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Athletes, including Olympians, discussed social justice, locker room conversations about race and ways that sports can help combat inequality in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports’ Damon Hack hosted roundtables with active and retired athletes at the American Century Championship Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, last week.

Panelists, including Olympians James Blake and Charles Barkley and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Stephen Curry, also reflected on personal experiences.

Barkley, an Olympic gold medalist in 1992 and 1996, said coaches recently reached out to him to speak to their teams.

“First of all, relax and breathe,” Barkley said. “This crap started 400 years ago. We can’t do nothing about that. We can’t do anything about systematic racism. What I challenge every Black person, every white person to do: What can I do today going forward?

“You have to ask yourself, I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Blake, a retired former top-five tennis player and 2008 Olympian, was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by a plainclothes New York City police officer in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity caught on video. The police officer’s punishment was a loss of five vacation days.

“The first thing I said when I got tackled was, I’m complying 100 percent,” Blake said. “And that shouldn’t have to be your response the first time you interact with a police officer. And because that’s the way my dad taught me is stay alive. Do whatever you can to stay alive. Sort it out later with lawyers or however you want to do it, and stay alive in that moment. The fact you have to have those rules in 2020 means maybe we have to do something drastic to change the way police interact with the African-American community and the way the community interacts with the police.”

Curry said his daughters, 7-year-old Riley and 5-year-old Ryan, asked questions about the images they recently saw. He’s not shielding them, but rather being honest about society, going back centuries.

“We have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those type of things,” Curry said. “And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change. I’m hopeful and optimistic about, but I understand how much work will need to go into that.”

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Additionally, Hack was joined by Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis for an extended interview that will be published on NBC Sports’ digital and podcast platforms.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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