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Russia accused of ‘backsliding’ on doping reforms in track and field

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MONACO (AP) — Russia’s ban from international track and field has been extended over concerns it’s “backsliding” on doping reforms.

Sunday’s decision by track’s world governing body, the IAAF, means Russia has three months to convince the IAAF it’s made enough progress for its athletes not to have to compete under a neutral flag at the world championships in Qatar.

The head of the IAAF’s Russia task force, Rune Andersen, welcomed Russia making a long-awaited payment of $3.2 million to cover costs of monitoring its compliance with anti-doping rules. He also said progress was being made on making old doping samples available for checks that could reveal more past offenses.

However, Andersen said the IAAF would wait for the outcome of an investigation into whether Russian officials supplied fake medical documents to give high jumper Danil Lysenko an alibi for failing to notify drug testers of his whereabouts.

Andersen also said he was concerned that banned coaches may still be working with Russian athletes. “If so, that calls into question whether Rusaf is able to enforce doping bans, and whether all Rusaf athletes have embraced the change to a new anti-doping culture,” Andersen said, using an abbreviation for the Russian track federation.

“The task force shares (the IAAF) council’s frustration that progress in two areas is being undermined by apparent backsliding in two other areas,” Andersen added. “It hopes the outstanding issues can be resolved soon.”

Russia has been suspended from international track and field since 2015 over widespread drug use, though dozens of top Russian athletes have since been allowed to compete as neutrals.

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MORE: Russia investigated for doping forgery claim related to silver medalist

2026 Winter Olympic host: Milan-Cortina

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Italy will host the 2026 Winter Olympics, with Milan-Cortina winning an IOC vote over a Swedish-Latvian bid centered on Stockholm-Are.

After Winter Games in Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014), PyeongChang (2018) and Beijing (2022), they return to a traditional European site for the first time since Italy hosted in Torino in 2006.

The two bids were left after five others dropped out for various reasons, all in 2018: Calgary, Canada; Erzurum, Turkey; Sapporo, Japan; Graz, Austria and Sion, Switzerland.

With the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosts both decided two years ago (Paris for 2024, Los Angeles for 2028), next up is the 2030 Winter Games. The U.S. has already said that if it bids, it will be with Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.

MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic master schedule

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Japan’s gymnastics worlds team: no Kohei Uchimura, Kenzo Shirai

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Not only is Kohei Uchimura going to miss the world championships, but so is 11-time world medalist Kenzo Shirai.

Japan finalized its five-man team for October’s worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, following a national-level meet this past weekend. Uchimura, arguably the greatest gymnast in history, was already out of the running, sidelined with his latest round of injuries.

Shirai, reportedly slowed by a left ankle injury this season, did compete this weekend. But he finished fifth on floor exercise and third on vault, his two best events, and did not earn one of the last two spots on the world team.

Uchimura, a two-time Olympic all-around champion with six world all-around titles, misses worlds for the first time since 2007. Shirai, a 22-year-old with four world titles between floor and vault, had competed in every worlds since debuting in 2013, just after his 17th birthday.

Without their two stars, Japan sends a relatively inexperienced team. Kazuma Kaya and Wataru Tanigawa, both 22, are the only men who have been to a worlds (and were part of the 2018 silver-medal team). The youngest member is 17-year-old Daiki Hashimoto.

Japan has earned a team medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2003, a streak bettered only by the U.S. women.

MORE: Olympic gymnastics team sizes return to five for Paris 2024

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