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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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Weekend Gymnastics Roundup: Carey and McCusker on World Cup podium

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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.

Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.

Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.

McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.

The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.