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Russian Olympic medalist cyclist switches countries, fearing Tokyo 2020 ban

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Olga Zabelinskaya, a triple Olympic road cycling medalist, said she switched her nationality from Russia to Uzbekistan in fear of being excluded from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a Russian who served a doping ban, according to Russian media.

“You see what has been happening in Russian sport over the last two Olympic cycles,” the 38-year-old Zabelinskaya said, according to an RT translation of a Match TV interview. “It all started in Rio, then the situation only deteriorated in PyeongChang. I have a feeling that in Tokyo everything will be even worse. I’m 99 percent confident that my participation in the 2020 Olympics will be impossible under the Russian flag.”

Though Uzbekistan listed Zabelinskaya on its roster for the Asian Games that start next week, Russia’s cycling federation bosses will not cooperate with the switch, which could keep Zabelinskaya out of the 2020 Olympics, according to Olympic Charter Rule 41.

Some Russian athletes were excluded from the 2016 and 2018 Olympics due to the country’s poor anti-doping record. In PyeongChang, Russian athletes were allowed in on an IOC-invitation basis only with stars who previously served doping bans not making the cut to compete as neutrals.

Zabelinskaya served an 18-month doping ban between earning road race and time trial bronze medals at London 2012 and time trial silver at Rio 2016.

That suspension was due to keep her out of the Rio Games, per the IOC’s policy on Russia, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared her as the Olympics began. Zabelinskaya maintained her innocence from cheating despite the charge.

“In the morning they told us we could participate. In the evening, they said we won’t. It was two weeks like this,” she said after the Rio Olympic time trial. “I had my ticket to go back to Russia. … I’m not the only cyclist that has a doping problem in the past.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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