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Two Russian dopers to get Olympic medal upgrades

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MOSCOW (AP) — The International Olympic Committee says it will give medal upgrades to two Russian athletes who have served doping bans.

The IOC will award silver medals to Ekaterina Poistogova and Tatyana Tomashova after other athletes were banned. In the past, the IOC has blocked upgrades in similar cases.

Poistogova was banned for two years in 2017 after a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation found she admitted to using banned substances in undercover footage and discussed techniques to “thwart drug detection.”

Tomashova was barred from the 2008 Olympics and banned when a doping sample she submitted was found to contain someone else’s urine.

Both raced at the 2012 Olympics, with Poistogova originally finishing fourth in the 800m. Tomashova was fourth in the 1500m.

Two Turkish runners who finished ahead of Tomashova were later disqualified for doping, while Poistogova moved up because her Russian training partner Maria Savinova was banned.

The IOC said it decided to give the medals to the two Russians because their samples from the 2012 Olympics were retested and found to be clean.

“The redistribution of Olympic medals is solely the responsibility of the International Olympic Committee,” track and field’s world governing body, the IAAF, said in an e-mailed statement. “The IAAF does retain the right to decide if it will allow such medals to be presented at an IAAF event.”

Reallocating medals isn’t an automatic process, and the IOC board has previously vetoed some upgrades.

In 2007, when the U.S. sprinter Marion Jones was stripped of her gold medal in the 100 meters from the 2000 Olympics, it wasn’t handed to second-place finisher Ekaterini Thanou of Greece.

Thanou had been embroiled in a scandal at the 2004 Olympics after missing a drug test and allegedly staging a motorcycle crash to create an alibi. She was eventually banned for two years over three missed tests.

The IOC didn’t say why the Russians’ cases were different to that of Thanou. It also didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether more medal reallocations are planned, which could mean more tough decisions over who deserves an upgrade.

Numerous weightlifting results from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics were cast into doubt after retests found steroid use was rife in the sport.

In one event from the 2012 Olympics, the men’s 94kg class, all three medalists and six of the top seven finishers were banned for doping.

The original ninth-place finisher, Poland’s Tomasz Zielinski, is in line for an upgrade to bronze even though he was sent home from the next Olympics in 2016 for failing a drug test.

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned four years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)