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Swedish women’s hockey players boycott over pay dispute

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Sweden’s women’s hockey team, the only European team to dent the U.S.-Canada dominance in the Olympics, announced Friday it would boycott an upcoming camp ahead of the Five Nations tournament later this month.

All 43 players selected for the camp have agreed to the boycott over a lingering pay issue.

With little professional income, the players who aren’t in college have outside jobs. Until April, the Swedish federation and the players had an agreement to compensate players for lost work income, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reported. No new agreement has been reached.

The union also posted a list of grievances that includes complaints over the team’s travel conditions.

The Swedish federation says it was surprised by the move and claims an agreement with professional clubs in the country should cover compensation and insurance, as it does in the men’s game.

All of the players from Sweden’s 2018 Olympic roster play in the country’s domestic league, Yahoo Sports reported.

Sweden has historically been one of the most successful teams outside North America. The team reached four straight Olympic semifinals from 2002 to 2014 and upset the United States in 2006 to become the only team other than the U.S. and Canada to play in an Olympic final and take a silver medal. But this decade has seen less success, and the team was relegated to the second tier of the world championships after failing to reach the quarterfinals in the top tier this year.

The Five Nations Cup also includes Russia, the Czech Republic, Japan and Finland, which lost a controversial final to the United States in this year’s world championship.

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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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