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Russia track and field doping ban remains

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MONACO (AP) — The IAAF extended its ban on Russia’s participation in international competitions on Tuesday, with no clarity on whether the suspension may be lifted before next year’s world championships in Qatar.

Sticking to a harder line than the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, a meeting of the IAAF council wasn’t prepared to draw the line under the scandal of Russian doping and cover-ups.

The IAAF still has two remaining conditions for Russia to be reinstated. It wants the country to pay its substantial costs, including legal costs, incurred from dealing with the Russian doping crisis.

“This debt must be settled,” said Rune Andersen, who heads the IAAF taskforce dealing with Russia. While Russia has promised to pay, “We need to receive the money.”

The IAAF also is pressuring for its anti-doping unit to get access to data and drug-test samples from a Moscow laboratory that could help identify more Russian athletes suspected of doping.

“Russian athletes cannot return to international competition unconditionally until that such issue is resolved one way or another,” he said.

The lab data could reach the IAAF via the WADA, which has set a year-end deadline to receive it. Track and field’s anti-doping unit would then have to analyze the information to satisfy the IAAF that it “hasn’t been tampered with,” Andersen said.

Unclear was how long all this might take. IAAF President Sebastian Coe noted the next IAAF council meeting is scheduled for March. The world championships open in Doha in late September.

In a statement, Russian Athletics Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin said “regulating our debts financially requires a lot of work and in-depth consideration. We need to draw up various legal documents and discuss the payment arrangements. We’re also talking with the IAAF about possibly paying in installments over six months.”

He also said providing WADA with access to the Moscow laboratory samples “will obviously take some time, we recognize that.”

The IAAF has allowed dozens of leading Russians to compete as neutrals if they can show an extensive history of passing drug tests. These include athletes such as Maria Lasitskene, who next year will look to defend the high jump world title she won in 2017.

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MORE: Russia Winter Olympic gold medalists face doping charges

April Ross, Alix Klineman back atop Olympic beach volleyball qualifying

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman moved back on top of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifying standings by winning an event in Itapema, Brazil this week.

Ross, who split from Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017, and Klineman beat Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 25-23, 18-21, 15-10 in Sunday’s final for their third title in 11 FIVB World Tour tournaments together.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said, according to the FIVB. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best.

Ross and Klineman supplanted Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, for the lead in the early U.S. Olympic qualifying rankings with still more than a year of events ahead.

1. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events played)
2. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,100 (7 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,180 (5 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,000 (4 events)
5. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)
6. Sponcil/Claes — 1,600 (3 events)

Each team’s 12 best results from Sept. 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020, go into the Olympic qualifying rankings. That means Ross and Klineman are comfortably in front, having played two fewer events than Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who lost in the quarterfinals in Itapema.

The top two U.S. pairs come June 15, 2020, provided they’re ranked high enough internationally, will qualify for Tokyo. Most of the qualifying events, including the ones with the most points available, are still to come this summer.

Ross, 36, picked up Klineman, 29, after Walsh Jennings didn’t join her in signing a domestic AVP contract in 2017. The 6-foot-5 Klineman primarily played indoor the previous decade, including at Stanford from 2007-10 after being the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school.

MORE: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Katie Ledecky extends 5-year win streak

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Katie Ledecky extended a five-year domestic win streak by taking the 200m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Swim Series at Bloomington on Saturday.

In her last full meet before July’s world championships, Ledecky clocked 1:55.80 to beat training partner Simone Manuel by 1.44 seconds for her second win in as many days. Ledecky is also entered in Sunday’s 800m free on the last day of the meet.

Ledecky, who also cruised to a 400m free victory on Friday, ranks third in the world in the 200m free this year, behind Australian Ariarne Titmus and Swede Sarah Sjöström (the Olympic silver medalist who is not expected to race the 200m free at worlds).

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, hasn’t lost a 200m, 400m, 800m or 1500m free final at a domestic meet since Allison Schmitt beat her in a 200m free on Jan. 18, 2014 when Ledecky was 16 years old.

BLOOMINGTON: Full Results

But Ledecky lost the two biggest 200m frees of this Olympic cycle so far, at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini handed Ledecky her first individual final defeat at a major international meet at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky dropped to third in the 200m free at Pan Pacs in Tokyo last year, beaten by younger swimmers Taylor Ruck of Canada and Rikako Ikee of Japan.

Ruck, who like Ledecky trains at Stanford, is in Bloomington, but she chose not to swim the 200m free on Saturday. She instead swam the 200m backstroke about 45 minutes after the 200m free and was upset by 17-year-old Regan Smith. Smith won in 2:06.47, moving to No. 3 in the world this year.

In other events Saturday, Ella Eastin captured the 400m individual medley in 4:37.18, taking 1.25 seconds off her personal best and moving to fifth in the world this year. Eastin is not on the world championships team after an untimely bout with mono before qualifying meets last summer.

Blake Pieroni won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.25. No American ranks in the top 20 in the world this year. World silver medalist Townley Haas did not enter Bloomington.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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