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Up to 70 Russian athletes could face doping charges

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MOSCOW (AP) — The number of Russian athletes accused of receiving banned treatments from a doctor could rise to 70, the country’s anti-doping agency said Wednesday.

The agency, known as RUSADA, previously said Monday it would file cases against 33 athletes from numerous sports suspected of receiving banned intravenous infusions.

RUSADA chief executive Yuri Ganus said that is just the “first package” of cases and a planned second package could take the number to 70.

The cases are all linked to a sports academy in central Russia’s Chuvashia region, a major center for track and field. RUSADA said many of the athletes were underage when they were given the infusions and some come from cycling, skiing and Paralympic sports.

They come as Russia seeks to have its ban from international track and field lifted in time to field a full team at the world championships in September and October. The Russian track federation has been banned since 2015 for widespread doping, though dozens from the country are allowed to compete as neutral athletes.

Ganus accused the Russian track federation, known as RusAF, of prioritizing cosmetic reforms over real cultural change.

“Over the course of four years we’ve spent a lot of time presenting athletics in a beautiful condition,” Ganus said. “We have enough material to say that RusAF cannot be reinstated in its current condition.”

Ganus also revealed that RUSADA is under two investigations from Russian authorities into its own conduct.

Ganus said Russian prosecutors were investigating a complaint that RUSADA employees exceeded their authority while looking into whether high jumper Danil Lysenko presented forged medical documents as an alibi for failing to notify drug testers of his whereabouts. Ganus said he believed the case originated with a complaint from someone unhappy with RUSADA’s work on doping cases.

The other matter involves tax authorities looking into a contract signed between RUSADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency, Ganus said.

RUSADA was reinstated by WADA last year, in the face of criticism from some Western athletes who believed Russia had not done enough to reform. Since then, RUSADA has increased its level of drug testing and pursued high-profile investigations into cases such as that of Lysenko and of seven athletes accused of training in secret in Kyrgyzstan with a banned coach.

MORE: Russia’s top track and field athlete slams ‘never-ending disgrace’

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Kelly Slater has an Olympic decision to make

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Surfing icon Kelly Slater is in great position to qualify for his sport’s Olympic debut in 2020, but he’s undecided about making a required event appearance this summer to stay eligible.

The top two U.S. male surfers in this season’s World Surf League final standings are in line to qualify for the Olympics.

Slater, a 47-year-old, 11-time world champion, is ranked third among Americans through six of 11 events, but the No. 2, two-time world champion John John Florence, is likely out for the rest of the season after an ACL tear.

If Slater keeps up his current pace of results, he will pass Florence’s point total by the end of the season in December.

“It appears as though I have to make a decision [on the Olympics] sooner than that,” Slater said after being eliminated from South Africa’s J-Bay Open in ninth place on Wednesday. “I’ve really got to figure out all the factors around that and make a decision in the next few weeks.”

Slater’s concern is the ISA World Surfing Games in Miyazaki, Japan, in September, an event that top Olympic hopefuls on the WSL tour are required to attend, barring illness or injury.

“I think I have to surf that event, and if I don’t, it may disqualify me,” he said (the International Surfing Association, the sport’s governing body, later confirmed it would disqualify him). “But I’m not sure if I want to go to Japan and compete right now.”

The ISA Games take place in the week between the next two WSL events, the latter hosted by Slater’s Surf Ranch wave pool in California.

“I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Olympics right now, anyways,” said Slater, who last year said he was “50-50” on the Olympics when noting his differing thoughts on the qualification process and venue. “The point is, I’m not really focusing on it at this point. I’m trying to get myself back in the flow of the tour.”

Slater missed 13 tour stops between the 2017 and 2018 seasons after breaking a foot and having multiple surgeries.

He finished fifth, third, ninth, ninth and ninth in his five most recent events to get into Olympic qualifying position. He expected more after placing third in the two contests he entered healthy last season. Slater said he competed at J-Bay after straining his back “really bad” on Sunday, keeping him from surfing the three days before the contest.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, at 48, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, via the OlyMADMen.

“Right now in my head the focus is more on this tour than it is on the Olympics, but we’ll see,” he said. “I was starting this year with a lot of pressure on myself to try and make the Olympic team and think, maybe I’ll retire there next year and that will be the end for me. It put so much pressure on the start of the year for me that I didn’t feel like I could freely compete. It was putting too many things in my head. I needed to let that take a backseat and not worry about it. I’m just not really thinking about it a lot.”

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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