Katie Ledecky wins by 13 seconds, seals Olympic Trials spot

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There was already zero doubt that Katie Ledecky would qualify for the June 2020 Olympic Trials, but she did it officially on the first day of the 18-month window on Wednesday night.

The five-time Olympic champion comfortably won her trademark event, the 800m freestyle, by 13.76 seconds in 8:14.40 at USA Swimming’s Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. At the 200-meter mark, Ledecky became the first of who will be hundreds of swimmers to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

That’s because she split 2:01.46 for the opening 200m, just under the 200m free trials entry standard of 2:01.69. The women’s 800m free entry standard is 8:48.09, which is 43.3 seconds slower than Ledecky’s world record.

The third-year Stanford student now owns 22 of the 23 fastest times ever in the 800m free, according to USA Swimming’s times database. Her time Wednesday was her 20th fastest, just ahead of her 2012 Olympic-winning effort.

“I was happy with it,” Ledecky told media in Greensboro after her first race in three and a half months, the longest break of her career. “I wasn’t really focused on time.”

Eight more women joined Ledecky in swimming under the trials qualifying time on Wednesday, including Ashley Twichell, the open-water 5km world champion.

Later, Rio Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky qualified for trials by taking the men’s 800m free in 7:56.88, well under the trials qualifying standard of 8:12.99. Ledecky should easily beat the men’s qualifying standard in 2019. Her time Wednesday would have placed eighth in the men’s event of 24 swimmers.

NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA air winter nationals coverage all weekend, highlighted by Ledecky, Simone ManuelDana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian. A broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. breaststroke hope tasked with ending 28-year Olympic drought

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Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

Lance Armstrong
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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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