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Nathan Chen headlines Skate America; Grand Prix assignments announced

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Nathan Chen will try to become the first male singles skater in 22 years to three-peat at Skate America. Chen’s return to the biggest annual international figure skating event in the U.S. highlights the Grand Prix season fields announced Thursday.

Chen, a two-time world champion who went undefeated last season, will try to join Scott Hamilton and Todd Eldredge as the only men to win three straight Skate America titles. The competition is in Las Vegas in October, kicking off the six-event Grand Prix Series leading up to December’s Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.

GP Entries: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance

Joining Chen at Skate America are past U.S. champions and Olympians Jason BrownBradie Tennell and Karen Chen. Reigning U.S. pairs’ champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc and ice dance champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are also slated for Las Vegas.

The top international names at Skate America include two-time world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China, world silver medalist Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan and 15-year-old Russian champion Anna Shcherbakova in her senior Grand Prix debut.

Nathan Chen will also compete at Grand Prix France the first week of November, which would require him to skip classes at Yale. Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is entered in two other Grand Prix events in Canada and Japan.

U.S. champion Alysa Liu, at 13, is too young for the senior Grand Prix. She will make her Junior Grand Prix debut in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August.

As previously announced, U.S. Olympians Ashley WagnerMirai Nagasu and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are skipping the Grand Prix Series as they continue to take indefinite breaks from skating. None have competed since the PyeongChang Olympics.

Also not in the Grand Prix fields, as expected, are Olympic medalists Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, Carolina Kostner of Italy and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They all sat out last season, too.

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USOPC seeks to revoke USA Badminton’s status

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U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland filed a complaint to revoke USA Badminton’s status as the national governing body for the sport, a year after a USOPC audit found the organization lacked athlete safety requirements.

USA Badminton “failed to meet its responsibilities as an NGB and consistently failed to meet its obligations to its members and to U.S. athletes,” according to the USOPC. “Further, USAB has failed to conduct itself in a manner that demonstrates it can fulfill those responsibilities.”

Asked for reaction, USA Badminton interim CEO Linda French said, “I’m very disappointed in the USOPC and the conduct of their staff.”

USA Badminton recently had mass resignations among its board and top officials amid governance issues and the USOPC threatening decertification. A 2018 USOPC audit found four “high risk” areas in USA Badminton’s athlete safety and SafeSport compliance that, by March, had not been fully resolved.

“We have attempted to work with USAB’s leadership over the course of the last year to address our concerns, however those efforts have not yielded the results necessary to give me confidence in USAB’s ability to continue to serve its athletes as an NGB,” Hirshland wrote. “We remain committed to working with USAB’s leadership to address our concerns but have so far not found a willing partner.”

The next step is for Hirshland to appoint an independent panel to hear the complaint. There is no specific timeline for a resolution, though Hirshland said it will take a minimum of several weeks.

If USA Badminton’s status is revoked, the USOPC would assume control on an interim basis.

Last November, the USOPC filed the same complaint against USA Gymnastics, seeking to revoke its status after the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes came to light followed by several leadership changes.

USA Gymnastics since filed for bankruptcy and named former college gymnast and NBA executive Li Li Leung its new CEO in February. It remains the sport’s NGB with eight months until the Tokyo Olympics.

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Sun Yang should get lengthy ban if he loses doping hearing, WADA says

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency wants China’s star swimmer Sun Yang banned for up to eight years for alleged doping rules violations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday ahead of a rare appeal hearing in open court on Friday that WADA requests a ban of two to eight years. Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 for a positive test.

If WADA wins, the three-time Olympic freestyle champion will miss the Tokyo Games.

WADA has challenged world swimming body FINA’s ruling to merely warn Sun after a disputed attempt by sample collectors to take blood and urine from him at his home in China in September 2018. The late-night confrontation lasted from 11 p.m. to beyond 3:30 a.m.

The day-long hearing will examine why a secure box storing a glass vial of blood came to be destroyed by Sun’s entourage, who questioned the sample team’s authority. A FINA tribunal panel agreed the officials lacked proper credentials to make the sample collection valid.

WADA believes Sun broke anti-doping rules by refusing to submit to a sample collection.

All sides agreed to Sun’s request to hold a first CAS appeal in public for 20 years.

A verdict is unlikely until early next year.

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