USA Gymnastics
USA Gymnastics

U.S. women’s gymnastics team for world championships qualifying named

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As expected, Simone Biles must outscore a U.S. teammate to make the world championships all-around final.

The Olympic all-around gold medalist and three-time world champion is one of three U.S. women slated to compete on all four apparatuses in qualifying at worlds in Doha on Saturday. The top two out of Biles, 2017 World all-around champion Morgan Hurd and two-time U.S. bronze medalist Riley McCusker advance to next Thursday’s all-around final.

Biles, Hurd and McCusker are joined on the U.S. women’s team for qualifying by first-year seniors Grace McCallum (floor exercise, uneven bars and vault) and Kara Eaker (balance beam).

Ragan Smith, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion who has struggled with injuries the last year, was named the alternate.

In Tuesday’s team final, nations are reduced to three gymnasts per apparatus, with all three scores counting.

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Biles, eyeing a female record-breaking fourth world title, is used to competition within the U.S. team just to make all-around finals.

In 2013, Biles and Kyla Ross outscored McKayla Maroney in worlds qualifying, then went one-two in the final.

In 2014, Biles and Ross made it ahead of MyKayla Skinner and Madison Kocian. Biles and Ross would share the podium again, this time with Ross taking bronze.

In 2015, Biles and Gabby Douglas kept Aly Raisman out of the world all-around final. In Rio, Raisman made it over Douglas. Both times, the U.S. went one-two in the all-around final.

Every time, Biles safely qualified in the No. 1 spot overall and at least 1.8 points clear of the No. 3 American.

Given that, the competition between Hurd and McCusker for the second U.S. all-around final spot should be among the most intriguing of qualifying.

Hurd outscored McCusker by. 55 between two days at the U.S. Championships in August. McCusker was second to Biles at a selection camp two weeks ago, two points better than Hurd.

Gymnasts also vie for apparatus finals spots in qualifying.

The top eight women per apparatus make each of the four event finals, maximum two per country. That’s where McCallum and Eaker can make their mark individually. McCallum was second to Biles on floor at the selection camp. Eaker had the top beam score in the selection camp all-around.

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Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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