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Missy Franklin fails to qualify for Pan Pacs, World Championships

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IRVINE, Calif. — Missy Franklin smiled and laughed. She choked back tears in between.

“I’ve trained really, really hard the past seven months,” she said, “and was definitely hoping it would show up a little bit more.”

Franklin, the four-time 2012 Olympic champion who struggled through 2016 and was out of competition for nearly two years, did not make the final of either of her events at the U.S. Championships.

Franklin, once the world’s top swimmer, will be absent from the two biggest international meets leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — the Pan Pacific Championships in August and the 2019 World Championships in South Korea.

She placed 18th in the 200m freestyle heats on Thursday morning. On Wednesday, she was 22nd in the 100m free heats.

Franklin did not enter her trademark backstroke events later this week. She swept the backstrokes at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds and still holds the 200m back world record.

“My shoulders are still the most painful with backstroke,” she said, referencing surgeries on each at the beginning of 2017. Franklin said she received two cortisone shots before nationals. “I can still be in a good amount of pain on any given day.”

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At this point in the last Olympic cycle, Franklin was the swim queen, coming off six gold medals at the 2013 World Championships just after her senior year in high school.

But she hasn’t returned to that level, dealing with back problems, the shoulder surgeries, three coaching changes and moves from California to Colorado back to California and, this year, Georgia.

In the last year, Franklin shared that she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety before summer 2016, when her struggles were most evident. Franklin tearfully failed to make an individual final in Rio and earned one medal, a gold on the 4x200m free relay by swimming in the preliminary heats.

She did not compete at all in 2017 due to the shoulder surgeries and relocated from the University of California at Berkeley to the University of Georgia in the winter.

Franklin, 23, returned to competition at small meets in France and Spain last month and said last week that her goal was the 2020 Olympics regardless of how nationals went.

I would 100 times rather be sitting in Omaha in 2020 having not made the team, knowing that I tried,” she said, “rather than looking back on these last two years and always thinking what if.”

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Alistair Brownlee, after Ironman, leans toward Olympic return

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Alistair Brownlee is already the only triathlete with multiple Olympic titles. In July, he is reportedly leaning toward another impressive feat, to win an Olympic gold medal the summer after completing the Kona Ironman World Championships.

The Brit Brownlee said he is “definitely swinging towards” trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games, according to the Times of London. Brownlee’s manager confirmed the stance while noting that his result in the Ironman Western Australia on Dec. 1 will play into the ultimate decision.

Brownlee previously reportedly said he was “50-50” on going for the Olympics and that he had to decide between focusing on the shorter Olympic distance or the Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon.

Other Olympic triathletes transitioned to the Ironman and never went back, such as 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany and two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True.

Brownlee finished 21st in Kona on Oct. 12 in 8 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds, which was 33:50 behind the winner Frodeno.

Brownlee won four half Ironmans between 2017 and 2018 (sandwiched by a hip surgery), then finished second to Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 2.

One other triathlete won an Olympic title after completing the Kona Ironman — Austrian Kate Allen, who was seventh in Kona in 2002, then took gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

MORE: 2019 Kona Ironman World Championships Results

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Alberto Salazar appeals doping ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has registered an appeal by track coach Alberto Salazar against his ban for doping violations, though a hearing will take several months to prepare.

CAS says Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown appealed against their four-year bans by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

After a multi-year USADA investigation, Salazar and Brown were found guilty of doping violations linked to the Nike Oregon Project training camp. USADA said Salazar ran experiments with supplements and testosterone, and possessed and trafficked the banned substance.

The case also related to falsified and incomplete medical records that disguised the work.

CAS says Salazar and Brown asked for more time to file “written submissions and evidence,” adding the hearing is “unlikely to take place before March.”

Verdicts typically take at least a further several weeks.

MORE: Mary Cain raises issues from being coached by Salazar

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