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Coach: Yevgenia Medvedeva asked if Alina Zagitova could be held out of Olympics

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The relationship between Russian figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva and now former coach Eteri Tutberidze has turned icy, with the coach intimating Medvedeva wanted 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova kept in the junior division last season and held out of the PyeongChang Olympics.

Medvedeva announced Monday she will be coached by Brian Orser. More on that here.

Zagitova and Medvedeva went one-two in PyeongChang, with Zagitova rising in the two months before the Winter Games to supplant the returning-from-injury Medvedeva, who had won the previous two world titles and gone undefeated for two years.

Zagitova, in her first senior international season, became the second-youngest Olympic singles champion after Tara Lipinski.

Tutberidze, who coached both skaters, shared a conversation she had with Medvedeva in PyeongChang in this Russian TV interview.

“There was this really childish phrase: ‘Couldn’t you have kept Alina in the juniors for one more year?’” Tutberidze said, according to an Associated Press translation. “I said … we have to give everyone the same chance.”

Medvedeva declined to comment on the exchange later Monday, according to R-Sport. An image was shown on the broadcast of Tutberidze’s text messages to Medvedeva that went unreturned.

“Rumors had been circulating, of course, and I had been writing [Medvedeva] by that time, but I hadn’t received any answers to my texts, and she wasn’t answering my phone calls,” Tutberidze said, according to a TASS translation. “That’s why I realized [Medvedeva] had left us when I heard it on Channel One news.”

Medvedeva, now 18, started training under Tutberidze at age 7. She became world junior champion in 2015 and world senior champion in 2016 and 2017.

She went undefeated for more than two years — the longest streak in women’s singles since Katarina Witt in the 1980s — and looked primed for Olympic gold in PyeongChang before being sidelined by a foot injury last fall.

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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