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Ruta Meilutyte, Olympic swimming champ, faces possible ban for missed drug tests

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Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, the surprise 2012 Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, could be suspended up to two years after missing three drug tests in a one-year span, according to the Lithuanian Swimming Federation.

Meilutyte, who earned gold as a 15-year-old and remains the youngest Olympic champion this millennium, missed drug tests on April 22, 2018; Aug. 19, 2018 and March 28.

Missing three tests in a 12-month span can be tantamount to a failed test and subject to up to a two-year ban, though it can be reduced to as little as one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault and doping record (Meilutyte has a clean record).

This is key, for a two-year ban would keep her out of the Tokyo Olympics, while a one-year ban would give her time to return for a third Olympic appearance.

Recall that Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal was banned for three missed tests in 2017, but under unusual circumstances and with her clean record, had it reduced to one year.

Athletes across Olympic sports must register daily time windows and locations where they are available for random out-of-competition drug tests. Sometimes missed tests are due to a “filing failure,” where the athlete incorrectly filled out this information.

Meilutyte stunned at the London Games, where she dropped 1.74 seconds off her personal best in the 100m breast prelims, clocking the fastest time of the field. She went even faster in the semifinals and final, upsetting American favorite Rebecca Soni, who had the eight fastest times in the world in 2011.

Meilutyte followed that with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds before dropping to seventh at the Rio Games. She held the 100m breast world record for four years before American Lilly King reset it in 2017.

Meilutyte ranked seventh in the world last year.

(h/t @AlexPussieldi)

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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