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Hope Solo: U.S. needs a goalkeeper, but I would need an answer

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NEW YORK — Hope Solo hasn’t retired — “It’s hard to retire when you got fired,” she repeated Tuesday, referencing her 2016-17 U.S. Soccer suspension and contract termination — but she also would not return to the U.S. national team under the current state.

“If Jill came to me today, Jill Ellis, the coach of the women’s team, and said, ‘Hope, we need a goalkeeper,’ — which they do — ‘can you come back and help us win the World Cup?’ I’d say to her, ‘Are you guys abiding by federal law?'” Solo said at the Hashtag Sports event in Manhattan. “That’s the only question I have to ask back and see what the answer is. We all know that they are not abiding by federal law, so I can not stand for that at this point.”

In January, Solo filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the U.S. Olympic Committee, accusing it of illegally favoring Major League Soccer. On Tuesday, she called the current labor agreement agreed to in April 2017 as “eye candy,” saying it yielded more pay for female players but fewer players on contract.

Solo, 36, has not played for club or country since she was suspended six months by U.S. Soccer in August 2016 after she called Sweden’s national team “a bunch of cowards” after beating the Americans in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals.

She was the No. 1 goalie for the U.S. at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups, taking two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title and compiling 202 caps.

“If I didn’t have that World Cup victory, I’m not sure I could have ever left the game,” Solo said Tuesday. “I would have been back on the field at all costs. But I got my World Cup victory, and, for me as a young girl, more than the Olympics, that’s something I needed in my life, that I always wanted to accomplish. If I hadn’t had that, then I’m not sure I’d be happy with my career.”

Solo said she would “be perfectly happy out of the public eye” living on her 60 acres of North Carolina farmland with husband Jerramy Stevens. She was adamant that she would not run for U.S. Soccer president again, as she did unsuccessfully last winter.

Solo has said she has turned down offers to play overseas and would not return to the National Women’s Soccer League because it is run by U.S. Soccer.

“For me, competing means competing at the highest level,” said Solo, who in 2020 will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic soccer player. “That would be the World Cup. That would be the Olympics. And if I can’t play for my country, then it’s hard for me to go move to France and play professional league soccer when I want to play for my country. I want to play in World Cups and Olympics.

“If I went back and played club ball, it would be in Europe.”

And does she she herself ever doing that?

“I don’t shut out opportunities, so who knows,” Solo said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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. 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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