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Ryan Lochte can be prosecuted in Rio Olympic case, Brazil court rules

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SAO PAULO (AP) — The prosecution of U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte for filing a false police report during the Rio Olympics is back on after a Brazilian court decision this week.

During the Games, the 12-time Olympic medalist told NBC that he and fellow swimmers were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with police badges as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party.

But prosecutors said Lochte invented the story to cover up the swimmers’ vandalism of a gas station and an ensuing confrontation with security guards. The confrontation was captured by surveillance cameras at the gas station.

Lochte later acknowledged he was intoxicated at the time and his behavior led to the confrontation.

The initial claim appeared to confirm widespread fears before the Olympics that the event would be marred by rising crime rates in Rio de Janeiro, which has long struggled with violence. As Lochte’s version of events began to shift, many Brazilians became annoyed that a false story about crime drew so much attention, when the city had hosted the games without major problems.

The scandal drew international headlines and grew to overshadow the final days of the games. Lochte ended up serving a 10-month suspension from the U.S. national swim team for his behavior.

Last year, a court dismissed the case against Lochte, but the Superior Court of Justice reversed that decision Tuesday. Prosecutor Rodrigo de Almeida Maia said Thursday that the next step is for Lochte’s lawyers to present their defense. Lochte does not have to appear in person to defend himself, de Almeida Maia said.

Steve Lochte, the swimmer’s father, said by telephone that he had no comment and directed questions to his son or his son’s lawyers.

Jeff Ostrow, a lawyer who has represented Lochte in the past, did not immediately respond to an email and a voicemail message seeking comment. It was not clear if he would represent Lochte in this case.

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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