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Michael Phelps: Caeleb Dressel must be perfect for 8 golds in Tokyo

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GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Michael Phelps was watching from his home in Arizona, and told The Associated Press that Caeleb Dressel would have to be perfect to win seven or eight golds in Tokyo. Phelps, of course, won eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Games.

“If there’s someone who doesn’t care how hard it’s going to be, how hard they’re going to have to work, how much pain they’re willing to put their body through, we might see it,” he said by phone.

Dressel won eight medals, including six golds, at the world championships, the biggest meet outside the Olympics. Two years ago in Hungary, he tied Phelps’ record of seven golds at a single worlds, including three in one night.

He would have to add an event to his program to get to eight at the Olympics, given two of his nine events at worlds are not on the Olympic schedule.

Phelps suggested Dressel could be a “great addition” to the 4x200m free relay.

“Clearly, he’s got the speed,” he said. “At this point, he’s just got to have better endurance.”

Dressel still feels his retired teammate’s influence. He knows the 23-time Olympic gold medalist’s times and watched how Phelps swam his races.

“It’s really special for me just to have that one little moment where I claimed I was the best in the history of swimming,” Dressel said. “Just a young kid from a small town, it’s just crazy how far the sport can go.”

Like Phelps, Dressel is his own worst critic. The 22-year-old Floridian picks apart each of his races, whether the result is gold, a world record or something less lofty.

“I always look for the bad,” he said. “There’s plenty to improve on. I know what to look for heading into next year, even for small meets. I take each event and I have to learn from it.”

MORE: Dana Vollmer retires from swimming

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1. The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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