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Sarah Robles aims to cap strong showing for U.S. weightlifting women

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Jenny Arthur gave the U.S. women a third medal Wednesday in the world weightlifting championships, a feat that was unprecedented in this century. On Friday, Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles tries to make it an unfathomable four.

Robles has already ended two droughts for U.S. women’s weightlifters. In 2016, she took Olympic bronze to become the first U.S. women’s medalist since 2000. The next year, she was the first U.S. woman to win a world championship since Robyn Byrd in 1994. (Second behind Robles in the 2017 super heavyweight competition was Laurel Hubbard, a transgender athlete competing for New Zealand.)

READ: Hubbard faces uphill climb to qualify for 2020 Olympics

U.S. women were successful for the first years of world championship competition, which opened for women in 1987. When the sport debuted in the Olympics in 2000, Tara Nott and Cheryl Haworth won medals, with the diminutive ex-gymnast Nott being bumped up to gold after apparent winner Izabela Dragneva of Bulgaria failed a drug test, but no U.S. woman reached the podium again until Robles.

Haworth also was the last U.S. woman to win a world championship medal, a bronze in 2005, until Instagram star (619,000 followers) Mattie Rogers took bronze in 2017, three days before Robles’ gold.

Also in 2017, Harrison Maurus became the first U.S. man to win a world championship medal since Wes Barnett in 1997. No U.S. man has medaled this year.

This year, the U.S. women have already bested their 2017 breakthrough, starting with a 1-2 finish at 71kg, where Kate Nye won gold and Rogers took silver. Jenny Arthur made it three with her bronze at 81kg.

READ: Nye, Rogers go 1-2 at 71kg

Despite her resume, Robles will be an underdog in her weight class. She ranks fifth coming into the event, just behind North Korea’s Kim Kuk Hyang but farther behind the trio of Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina, China’s Li Wenwen and China’s Meng Suping, all of whom have lifted a total of 300kg between the two phases of competition (snatch, clean and jerk). Robles won the 2017 title with 284kg, when many of the top lifters weren’t present, and set an American record of 290kg to take fifth in the 2018 world championships.

In addition to the medals for combined weight between the two lifts, the world championships offer medals for each individual lift. Arthur won silver in clean and jerk, Rogers won clean and jerk silver along with bronze in the snatch, and Nye swept the gold medals on offer.

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Olympic wrestlers tie for gold medal, 8 years after the competition

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A pair of doping cases led to the first Olympic gold-medal tie in wrestling history, eight years after the matches took place.

Russian Bilyal Makhov was upgraded to 2012 Olympic freestyle super heavyweight gold, joining Iranian Komeil Ghasemi, who was upgraded last year, according to the IOC’s website.

In February, Russian media reported that Makhov recently tested positive for growth hormone, which would have no bearing on 2012 results.

The move came after the finalists in 2012 — Uzbek Artur Taymazov and Georgian Davit Modzmanashvil — were stripped of their gold and silver medals last year in retests of doping samples from the London Games.

Makhov and Ghasemi each originally earned bronze medals. In wrestling, bronze medals are awarded to each match winner in repechage finals.

Ghasemi, whose only loss in London came to gold medalist Taymazov, was originally upgraded to gold by United World Wrestling in 2019. Makhov, whose loss came to Modzmanashvil, was originally upgraded to silver before the later upgrade to a second gold.

American Tervel Dlagnev and Kazakh Daulet Shabanbay, who lost the bronze-medal matches to Ghasemi and Makhov, were upgraded to bronze-medal positions last year, according to United World Wrestling.

Taymazov became the second athlete to be stripped of gold medals from multiple Olympics for doping, losing his London 2012 title two years after giving up his Beijing 2008 crown. Both were because of retests coming back positive for banned steroids.

Wrestling has been contested at every modern Olympics save 1900.

In 1912, Sweden’s Anders Ahlgren and Finland’s Ivar Bohling wrestled for nine hours in a final without deciding a winner, according to Olympedia.org. The match was declared a “double loss” and both awarded silver medals. There was no gold medalist.

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MORE: World wrestling championships rescheduled for 2020

Deajah Stevens, Olympic sprinter, suspended through Tokyo Games

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Deajah Stevens, a U.S. Olympic 200m sprinter, was suspended through Aug. 15, 2021, for missing drug tests, ruling her out of the Tokyo Games unless she successfully appeals.

Stevens, who placed seventh in Rio, missed three drug tests in 2019, grounds for a suspension between one and two years.

The exact length depends on an athlete’s degree of fault and, with the timing in this case, determined whether she would be banned through the Olympics.

Full details of her case are here.

The 18-month ban was backdated to Feb. 17, the date that Stevens requested her case be expedited. Her last of three missed tests was Nov. 25.

Stevens’ lawyer requested the suspension be backdated to the third missed test, which would have kept her eligible for the Olympics, or the date of Stevens’ request for an expedited hearing on Feb. 17, which could have kept her Olympic eligible if the ban was closer to one year.

For Stevens’ second missed test, she did not hear door knocks from a back bedroom. The drug tester called her five times but never received an answer. Stevens said her phone was out of battery power.

For her last missed test, the drug tester again tried to call Stevens. But Stevens changed her phone number six weeks earlier, after somebody was harassing her and threatening her fiance’s life. She had not yet notified drug-testing authorities that she changed her number.

“Despite our sympathy for the athlete, we have not been satisfied on a balance of probability that her behavior was not negligent and did not cause or contribute to her failure to be available for testing,” a disciplinary tribunal found. “She already had missed two doping tests in the last six months. She should have been on red alert and conscious that she could not miss the next one.”

Stevens’ initial provisional suspension was announced May 1 ahead of a June 25 disciplinary tribunal hearing.

Stevens, 25, was disqualified from the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Championships 200m semifinals in her only outdoor meet of the year, according to World Athletics.

She ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in the 200m in 2017 (and placed fifth at the world championships), No. 31 in 2018 and No. 59 in 2019.

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